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Hoodoo in the Old Tradition

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These readings are designed to assist the reader in locating material germane to understanding the African American experience in the United States.  These readings all challenge the contemporary paradigms for understanding African American life and culture. The authors presented here are cross cultural and they are nationally known scholars and researchers. They are neither apolitical nor apathetic. Hopefully these readings will assist the reader in building a new approach to understanding the movement of Hoodoo and African American Culture generally.  If you have suggested readings that might fit then by all means suggest them.  The list is limited so, as with all good bibliographies, this list will also limit its scope. 

Books and Articles

1.Katrina Hazzard-Donald, Mojo Workin: The Old African American Hoodoo System (Urbana: University of ilinois Press, 2013)

2. Ayi Kwei Armah, Remembering the Dismembered Continent (Popenguine, Senegal: Per Ank, 2010) This volume challenges African and thus their descendants to rethink who we are and to look to ourselves and our traditions for healing and uplift.  He challenges the "eurocentric" paradigm of self evaluation. 

2. Loudell F. Snow, "Mail Order Magic:The Commercial Exploitation of Folk Belief," Journal of the Folklore Institute vol.16 (1979):44-74. This article documents the abusive aspects of marketeered Hoodoo and the commercial exploitation of African American folk belief.

3. Katrina Hazzard-Gordon, Jookin:The Rise of Social Dance Formations in African American Culture (Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 1991) As you see this is my first book. It is a sociohistorical accounting of the African American dance institutions and their response to a changing socioeconomic backdrop.  It raises to its proper place in American culture those forgotten institutions such as the Jook houses, honky-tonks, black & tan clubs as well as the role of dance in slave resistance and on board slave ships

4. Cheikh Anta Diop, The African Origin of Civilization, Myth or Reality (Chicago: Lawrence Hill Press, 1974) Dr. Diop was the director of the Radio Carbon Dating Institute, and was a nuclear physicist, scholar, cultural historian, biologist and "race man", clearly challenges the eurocentric view of the origins of civilization.  He used linguistic evidence, archeological, anthropological and historical evidence to challenge the racist and outmoded notions that Europeans brought civilization to the human species.

5. Cheikh Anta Diop, Precolonial Black Africa, (Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books, 1987)  This book is one of three that attempts to reconstruct African history and the black contribution to the foundations of Western thought.

6. Cheikh Anta Diop, Civilization or Barbarism, An Authentic Anthropology (Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books, 1991) Dr. Diop offers a critical challenge to 19th. century orthodox scholarship's interpretation of Egypt as a White civilization.  It examines how it reinforced European colonialism, racism, "White Supremacy" and "White Skin Priviledge".

7. W.E.B. DuBois, Black Reconstruction in America 1860-1880 (New York: The Free Press, 1992). Constructed from sources of the times, DuBois, who was restricted from using many libraries and resources because of "White skin priviledge" in America, wrote this powerhouse in his senior years.  It was first published when the great scholar was nearly 70 years old.  Originally 1,500 pages long,  it was finally reduced down to 764 pages.  It discusses "The founding of the Public School in America" and clearly documents that the founding of the public school in the U.S. was spurred on by the idea pushed forward by ex-slaves from South Carolina.  We in America can thank our black ancestors for that major contribution to U.S. life.

8. Herbert C. Covey, African American Slave Medicine (New York:Lexington Books, 2007).A good account of the health and healing practices of enslaved Africans in North America.  Although it contains a chapter on "Hoodoo & Conjure" it is very limited.  The author fails to realize that all slave health and healing were influenced by/through Hoodoo. Nevertheless, this book give an overview of the uses of herbal and other treatments as well as the 'materia medica' of the plantation environment.


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