This chapter traces the strategies that Caribbean ritual specialists used to create substances and objects with bodily effect. It shows how ritual practitioners modeled the power of medicinal substances and power objects on the basis of myriad encounters with cosmopolitan therapeutic communities in Caribbean lands. The power of healing substances resided in the tactics that practitioners used to claim privileged access to nature’s secrets, to its blessings and terrifying truths. The chapter shows how the tracing of the history of seventeenth-century Caribbean materials with bodily effects necessitates the plotting of maps of social realities and competition that go beyond a study of European appropriation and interpretation of “exotic” materials.These substances’ effectiveness was inextricably linked to the local realities within which practitioners deployed them. Caribbean substance specialists worked in communities that were unstable and continuously engaged in exchanges and appropriations. The specialized and complex powers of the substances and power objects they crafted for specific Caribbean rich and vibrant social spaces were, thus, not always geographically portable.
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