Black Magic Matters: Hoodoo as Ancestral Religion


Does Black Magic Matter? A brief discussion of the African American traditions known as Hoodoo, Conjure and Rootworking, and practices of divination, spiritual protection and healing. We will discuss the origins of magic in the specific context of slavery in America and consider the meaning of black magic in the present day. Like their enslaved forebears, today’s practitioners cultivate ancestral spirituality in support of individuals and communities, and to heal diverse afflictions of the body politic, intergenerational trauma, racial and sexual violence, and economic impoverishment.

Yvonne Chireau is Professor in the Department of Religion at Swarthmore College, where she teaches courses on African American religions, Black women and religion, and New World African religions. She is the author of Black Magic: Religion and the African American Conjuring Tradition (2003). Her work focuses on the intersections between religion and magic and the diversity of Africana traditions in the United States. She writes on topics such as race, comics, and Voodoo memes at The Academic Hoodoo.

The event took place November 10, 2021.

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