Divine Sounds and Sacred Movements

The Healing Power of Words, Breath, and Dance in Spiritual Baptist and Kumina

Panel Abstract

The sacred healing arts of the Caribbean reveal a wide-range of practices wedded to ancient African wisdom-systems refashioned in the Americas. These spiritual traditions simultaneously encompass those that came into being as a direct result of their volatile interaction with and defiant reinterpretation of Christianity. The papers assembled in this panel reveal the ways in which the inner coding of selfhood required a rethinking of the cosmos displacing the supposed supremacy of whiteness through embodying the primacy of African ways of knowing and communing with the divine universe. While Obeah, Vodou and Lucumi-Orisha practices have occupied the imagination of many scholars of Africana religions for quite some time, other traditions more readily found in the eastern and southern Caribbean have not gained the same level of sustained academic inquiry. In this multidisciplinary panel, graduate students and established scholars come together to reflect on the healing dimensions of words, breath divine utterances as sonic and embodied practices that enliven and elevate the Spirit. In focusing on Spiritual Baptist and Rastafari as it is practiced in Barbados, the presenters reflect on their own positionality as practitioners and researchers reflecting critically on their sacred practices as well as seeing those points of interconnection with other healing traditions and across broader sociocultural themes.

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