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Hoodoo Medicine: Gullah Herbal Remedies

Hoodoo Medicine: Gullah Herbal Remedies

Current price: $15.55
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Publication Date: November 11th, 2011
Summerhouse Press
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Hoodoo Medicine is a unique record of nearly lost African-American folk culture. It documents herbal medicines used for centuries, from the 1600s until recent decades, by the slaves and later their freed descendants, in the South Carolina Sea Islands. The Sea Island people, also called the Gullah, were unusually isolated from other slave groups by the creeks and marshes of the Low Country. They maintained strong African influences on their speech, social customs, and beliefs, long after other American blacks had lost this connection. Likewise, their folk medicine mixed medicines that originated in Africa with cures learned from the American Indians and European settlers. Hoodoo Medicine is a window into Gullah traditions, which in recent years have been threatened by the migration of families, the invasion of the Sea Islands by suburban developers, and the gradual death of the elder generation. More than that, it captures folk practices that lasted longer in the Sea Islands than elsewhere, but were once widespread throughout African-American communities of the South.

About the Author

I am a medical anthropologist who has conducted original research in African American communities in the U.S. and Caribbean, as well as working on social and health policy issues throughout my professional career. My current research interests combine anthropology and genealogy. Hoodoo Medicine: Gullah Herbal Remedies was the first book to fully document and preserve the use of traditional medicines by the Gullah of the Sea Islands. The Gullah have a unique history among African Americans because of their strong legacy of African traditions. In addition to Hoodoo Medicine, I have co-edited several authoritative reports through the National Academies Press (National Academy of Sciences). I have a doctorate in Medical Anthropology from the UC Berkeley-UC San Francisco joint program. My dissertation research, which sparked my interest in policy, was on health care (from "bush medicine" to the best doctors) in Jamaica.