African American Medical Culture in the Antebellum South: As Remembered in the WPA Narratives

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Barber, Daniel (2015)
  • Publisher: eScholarship, University of California
  • Subject: African American studies | Medicine | Folklore | conjure | ethnomedicine | healing | herb | slavery

This project examines the oral accounts of former slaves, as recorded in the WPA narratives in the 1930s, to study the development of African American medical culture in the Antebellum South. Through an examination of these transcribed memories, my research investigates how African American praxes with medicinal flora, healing techniques, and spiritual harmony, reflected their ethnomedical and cosmological ideologies. The duality of these ideologies represents an African American medical identity that provided a means to resist the everyday domination of chattel slavery. These medical praxes provide insight into an early set of cultural practices formed by Africans arriving in the American South and are important components in understanding how African Americans developed a larger cultural identity during chattel slavery and into the post-emancipation decades.
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