Obeah Histories : Researching Prosecution for Religious Practice in the Caribbean

Obeah Histories Website ( External Site )

Material Information

Obeah Histories : Researching Prosecution for Religious Practice in the Caribbean
Series Title:
Spiritual Politics in Caribbean History
Physical Description:
Scholarly Website with primary and secondary material
Paton, Diana
Romain, Gemma
Forde, Maarit
Diana Paton
Place of Publication:
United Kingdom
Publication Date:


From the website: http://obeahhistories.org/ ; Introduction: Thousands of people in the Caribbean have been subject to prosecution for their religious and spiritual healing practice, since the first law against obeah was passed in Jamaica during slavery, until the recent past. As well as the obeah laws, which still exist in many Caribbean countries, there have also been laws against specific religious groups, including the Spiritual Baptist faith, which was outlawed for a substantial part of the twentieth century in Trinidad and Tobago, St. Vincent, and Grenada. Other people faced prosecution for independent religious and healing work under laws against practicing medicine without a license, vagrancy, and ‘night noises’, among others. Although stories about some of these individuals have been passed down within families, there has been little memory of most of them. Painstaking work in newspapers and colonial archives, however, has revealed information about hundreds of people who were prosecuted for crimes relating to religion between the eighteenth and twentieth century. This website tells some of their stories, explains the legal context of the laws under which they were prosecuted, and directs interested readers to where they might find out more.
General Note:
From: http://obeahhistories.org/project/ The website is part of the project ‘Spiritual Politics in Caribbean History’, led by Diana Paton and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, which ran from January 2012 to January 2013. Diana Paton is Reader in Caribbean History at the School of History, Classics and Archaeology at Newcastle University. She is the author of No Bond but the Law: Punishment, Race, and Gender in Jamaican State Formation, 1780-1870 (Durham: Duke University Press, 2004), and co-editor, with Pamela Scully, of Gender and Slave Emancipation in the Atlantic World (Durham: Duke University Press 2005). For her publications on obeah and Caribbean religion, please see the publications page. Gemma Romain specialises in researching Caribbean and Black British history. She currently works as a Research Associate for The Equiano Centre, Department of Geography, UCL and also undertakes freelance historical research and public engagement. She was Vera Douie Fellow at the Women’s Library during 2011, documenting interwar Black histories within the collections of the Women’s Library and was previously Leverhulme Early Career fellowship at Newcastle University. Her publications include Connecting Histories: A Comparative Exploration of African-Caribbean and Jewish History and Memory in Modern Britain (Kegan Paul, 2006) and co-edited with David Cesarani, Jews and Ports Cities, 1590-1990: Commerce, Community and Cosmopolitanism (Vallentine Mitchell, 2006). Gemma wrote the initial drafts of most of the text on the website. Maarit Forde worked with Diana on an earlier phase of this project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust. She researched obeah prosecutions and prosecutions under the Shouters Prohibition Ordinance in the Port of Spain Gazette, co-organized the conference that led to the publication of Obeah and Other Powers, and co-edited the book. Previous research on this project has also been funded by Newcastle University and the British Academy.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
Applicable rights reserved.
System ID:

This item is only available as the following downloads: