Domingos Álvares, African Healing, and the Intellectual History of the Atlantic World

Domingos Álvares, African Healing, and the Intellectual History of the Atlantic World

by James H. Sweet
     
 

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Between 1730 and 1750, Domingos Alvares traversed the colonial Atlantic world like few Africans of his time—from Africa to South America to Europe. By tracing the steps of this powerful African healer and vodun priest, James Sweet finds dramatic means for unfolding a history of the eighteenth-century Atlantic world in which healing, religion, kinship, and

Overview

Between 1730 and 1750, Domingos Alvares traversed the colonial Atlantic world like few Africans of his time—from Africa to South America to Europe. By tracing the steps of this powerful African healer and vodun priest, James Sweet finds dramatic means for unfolding a history of the eighteenth-century Atlantic world in which healing, religion, kinship, and political subversion were intimately connected.

Alvares treated many people across the Atlantic, yet healing was rarely a simple matter of remedying illness and disease. Through the language of health and healing, Alvares also addressed the profound alienation of warfare, capitalism, and the African slave trade. As a result, he and other African healers frequently ran afoul of imperial power brokers. Nevertheless, even the powerful suffered isolation in the Atlantic world and often turned to African healers for answers. In this way, healers simultaneously became fierce critics of Atlantic imperialism and expert translators of it, adapting their therapeutic strategies in order to secure social relevance and even power. By tracing Alvares' frequent uprooting and border crossing, Sweet illuminates how African healing practices evolved in the diaspora, contesting the social and political hierarchies of imperialism while also making profound impacts on the intellectual discourse of the "modern" Atlantic world.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
This book should become mandatory reading for graduate students as well as faculty working on Atlantic history. . . . The skillful prose of this work also should be a model for other historians.—Journal of World History

[An] insightful examination of the politics of healing.—Early American Literature

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781469609751
Publisher:
The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date:
08/01/2013
Edition description:
1
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
609,897
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.80(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
This exceptionally creative, engaging, and provocative book is a tour de force of historical imagination and sensitivity and a hallmark of Atlantic history.—Joseph C. Miller, University of Virginia

Engage[s] and expand[s] both biological and historical-cultural approaches to colonial epidemics and medicine.—Early American Literature

Meet the Author

James H. Sweet is professor of history at the University of Wisconsin.

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