Issue 20: How Are You?

Holly Bynoe

Reading time: 14 minutes



Mothering an Archipelago of Hope

Curator and spiritist Holly Bynoe reflects on the expansion of Obeah, a belief system of the Caribbean Black communities, and its relationship with women and their ancestral heritage to continue exercising care in the face of colonial extermination.

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  1. Alexander Giraldo, Obeah: The Ultimate Resistance in Slave Resistance, A Caribbean Study, Miami: Miami University, 2014. Disponible en: https://scholar.library.miami.edu/slaves/Religion/religion.html (Consultado el 26 de marzo de 2021).

  2. Don Rojas, “Capitalism—A System Born of Slavery” en Caricom Reparations Commission, Sección Essays and Speaches, 18 de octubre de 2018. Disponible en: https://caricomreparations.org/capitalism-a-system-born-of-slavery/ (Consultado el 26 de marzo de 2021).

  3. Hilary McD. Beckles, “Capitalism, Slavery and Caribbean Modernity”, en Callaloo – Eric Williams and the Postcolonial Caribbean: A Special Issue, vol. 20, no. 4, otoño, 1997, pp. 777-789. Disponible en: https://www.jstor.org/stable/3299407?seq=1 (Consultado el 26 de marzo de 2021).

  4. Pachamama es la diosa madre en los sistemas de creencias indígenas de la Cordillera de los Andes. Su nombre literalmente significa “Madre Mundo” y está asociada con la tierra y la fertilidad.

  5. Simon Lewis y Mark Maslin, Defining the Anthropocene, Nature Press, no. 519, 2015, pp. 171-180.

  6. Term penned by Guatemalan sociologist Gladys Tzul Tzul.

  7. The following former British Caribbean island colonies achieved independence during a more than 20 year period starting in the early ’60s and ending in the early ’80s: Jamaica (1962), Trinidad and Tobago (1962), Barbados (1966), Guyana (1966), The Bahamas (1973), Grenada (1974), Dominica (1978), St. Lucia (1979), St. Vincent and the Grenadines (1979), Antigua and Barbuda (1981), Belize (1981), and St. Kitts and Nevis (1983).

  8. Animism is the belief that objects, places, and creatures all possess a distinct spiritual essence. Potentially, animism perceives all things—animals, plants, rocks, rivers, weather systems, human handiwork, and perhaps even words—as animated and alive.

  9. “What is Obeah?” Early Caribbean Digital Archive (ECDA), Northwestern University. Available in: https://ecda.northeastern.edu/home/about-exhibits/obeah-narratives-exhibit/what-is-obeah (Accessed on March 16, 2021)

  10. Diana Paton, The Cultural Politics of Obeah: Religion, Colonialism and Modernity in the Caribbean World. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015).

  11. “A common position expressed by many astrologers sees the Age of Aquarius as that time when humanity takes control of the Earth and its own destiny as its rightful heritage, with the destiny of humanity being the revelation of truth and the expansion of consciousness, and that some people will experience mental enlightenment in advance of others and therefore be recognized as the new leaders in the world.” More information: Vera W. Reid, Towards Aquarius, (Arco Publishing Company, 1971), 97–116.

  12. Grounded in Bahamian writer, healer, and shaman Helen Klonaris’ Soul Healing Way mystery school philosophy. https://soulhealingway.com/the-soul-healing-way/

  13. Jeffrey Cottrell, “At the end of the trade: obeah and black women in the colonial imaginary,” Atlantic Studies 12, no. 2 (2015): 200-218.

  14. Jascene Dunkley-Malcolm, “Beckles calls for High Level International Reparations Summit,” Caricom Today, July 14, 2020, Available in: https://today.caricom.org/2020/07/09/beckles-calls-for-high-level-international-reparations-summit (Accessed on March 26, 2021)

  15. The Obeah Act of Jamaica, June 2, 1898. Available in: https://moj.gov.jm/sites/default/files/laws/The%20Obeah%20Act.pdf (Accessed on March 26, 2021)

  16. “Obeah was decriminalized in Anguilla in 1980, Barbados in 1998, Trinidad and Tobago in 2000, and St Lucia in 2004. In Guyana, the government last year announced its intention to remove the crime of obeah from the criminal code. In Jamaica, the last conviction for obeah was that of Cindy Brooks, in 1964. The last arrest for obeah I located was in 1977.” Diana Paton, The Racist History of Jamaica’s Obeah Laws, History Workshop, July 4, 2019, Available in: https://www.historyworkshop.org.uk/the-racist-history-of-jamaicas-obeah-laws/.

  17. Bernard Ferguson “Hurricane Dorian was a Climate Injustice,” The New Yorker, September 12, 2019. Available in: https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/hurricane-dorian-was-a-climate-injustice (Accessed on March 26, 2021)

  18. “Dominica – Prime Minister Addresses General Debate, 72nd Session,” UN Web TV, September 23, 2017, Available in: http://webtv.un.org/watch/dominica-prime-minister-addresses-general-debate-72nd-session/5584856254001 (Accessed on March 26, 2021)

  19. This market-based mechanism aims at incentivizing emitters to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by directly assigning a cost to carbon-emitting operations.

  20. “Caribbean Islands – Threats,” Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund. Available in: https://www.cepf.net/our-work/biodiversity-hotspots/caribbean-islands/threats#:~:text=The%20loss%2C%20fragmentation%20and%20degradation,populations%20(many%20threatened%20species)%20and (Accessed on March 26, 2021)

  21. Joanna Zylinska, The End of Man: A Feminist Counterapocalypse (Minneapolis: The University of Minnesota Press, 2018)

  22. Souleymane Bachir Diagne, “We, the servants and tenants of Earth,” The Unesco Courier, 2018. Available in: https://en.unesco.org/courier/2018-2/we-servants-and-tenants-earth. (Accessed on March 26, 2021)

  23. “The Fresh Milk Art Platform supports excellence in the visual arts through residencies and programmes that provide Caribbean artists with opportunities for development and foster a thriving art community. By offering a safe space for people to innovate, gather, and create, Fresh Milk moves against the Caribbean’s traumatic history as a platform of excellence and diversity.” “About,” Fresh Milk Barbados, https://freshmilkbarbados.com.

  24. “The number of black people, and especially Caribbeans, who migrated to the United States increased dramatically in the first three decades of the twentieth century, peaking in 1924 and falling off during the Depression. From a trickle of 412 in 1899 black migration to the U.S. reached 12,243 per year by 1924.” Vía Winston James, “The History of Afro-Caribbean Migration to the United States” in The Schomburg Center, ed., In Motion: The African American Migration Experience (The New York Public Library, 2005) & “The History of Afro-Caribbean Migration to the United States,” In Motion: The African American Migration Experience, The Schomburg Center, http://www.inmotionaame.org/print.cfm?migration=10.

  25. “I realize that if I wait until I am no longer afraid to act, write, speak, be, I’ll be sending messages on a Ouija board, cryptic complaints from the other side.” — Audre Lorde


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