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Experiential CaribbeanCreating Knowledge and Healing in the Early Modern Atlantic$
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Pablo F. Gómez

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781469630878

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469630878.001.0001

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(p.39) 2 Landscapes
Experiential Caribbean

Pablo F. Gómez

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter describes the sanitary conditions of the seventeenth-century Caribbean, the diversity of ideas about illnesses, spaces for healing and diseasing, and the multitude of practitioners who operated in this context. It introduces a Caribbean geography of health and disease, the contours of which appear familiar, but upon closer scrutiny morph into unsettling spaces. Rather than being mere reproductions of Old World hierarchies and dynamics, the chapter shows, Caribbean landscapes of healing were created anew through the multiple encounters that occurred between mostly black historical actors in the highly competitive cultural economy based on the experiential that developed in the region. These were arenas in which a variety of actors deployed multiple visions of the natural, cultural, and social world of the early modern Atlantic. The multiplicity of origins of practitioners of African descent implies that analysis of their historical circumstances cannot be contained in simple dialectic terms of continuities, ruptures, or coarsely defined hybridities. By unmasking muddying labels and maps of social and physical landscapes conceived through Old World imaginaries, we begin to perceive the countless ways in which black Atlantic actors usurped canonical and mundane spaces in which to enact their own corporeal encounters.

Keywords:   Illness, Death rates, Sanitary conditions, Health practitioners, Epidemics, Hospitals, Ritual spaces, Medical regulation, Marketplace of Healing practices, Competition

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