Obeah and Experiments with Power

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J. Brent Crosson joins the RSP to discuss his most recent award-winning book, Experiments with Power: Obeah and the Remaking of Religion in Trinidad (Chicago, 2020). Based on more than a decade of fieldwork during and after Trinidad declared a state of emergency in 2011, Crosson explores how religion in Trinidad took to the streets to demand justice in the face of brutal governmental crackdowns against protestors crying out against rampant police brutality. Many marching the streets believed that if the legal justice system could not deliver justice for those wrongfully killed by the police, then perhaps obeah could. Using Trinidadian spiritual workers’ own descriptions of their religious practice—obeah—as “science” and “experiments with power,” Crosson examines how these spiritual workers unsettle the moral and racial foundations of Western categories of religion.

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