CFP: Early Caribbean Society MLA 2023 Special Session

Dr Desha A Osborne's picture
Call for Papers
March 31, 2022
Subject Fields: 
Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Latin American and Caribbean History / Studies, Literature, Slavery, Theatre & Performance History / Studies

Healing as Resistance in Caribbean Literature

The Early Caribbean Society invites paper proposals for an ECS Special Session at the Modern Language Association (MLA) 2023 annual convention in San Francisco, California, from January 5-8, 2023.

Please see the CFP below. Send a 200-300 word abstract by March 31, 2022 to

Beginning in the mid-eighteenth century, the religious, spiritual and medical practice of obeah was made illegal throughout the Caribbean. Following a series of rebellions in which leaders like Tacky, Jack Mansong and Nanny of the Maroons were all reported to be connected to obeah, enslaved Africans caught engaging in the practice that included buying and selling remedies, prayers, charms and incantations were subject to arrest; those convicted faced severe capital punishment. Meanwhile, writers on all sides of the Atlantic were capitalizing from the public’s fascination. Novelists like Maria Edgeworth (Belinda, 1801), William Earle (Obi, or, The History of Three-Finger’d Jack, 1800), and the anonymous writer of Hamel, the Obeah Man (1827) joined playwrights like John Fawcett (Three-Fingered Jack, 1800) to create narratives driven by skewed interpretations of both African and indigenous religious and medicinal practices. This panel seeks to include multidisciplinary approaches to the way Caribbean and transatlantic literature of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries used and confounded African religious and medical practices to tell a particular story about the dangers of colonial life for Europeans - and their ultimate triumph over ignorance and superstition. We are interested in exploring how the work of healing for Black and Indigenous people became the loci of resistance and source of entertainment for Europeans in the early Caribbean. 


Contact Info: 

Désha A Osborne


Early Caribbean Society