Obeah and its others: Buffered selves in the era of tropical medicine

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This article argues that the eighteenth-century cultural interrelation of obeah practices and European tropical medicine demonstrates a profound limit to Charles Taylors theory of the "buffered self." According to Taylor, Western secularity depended upon the rise of a theory of a disenchanted subjectivity. This article suggests instead that the hallmark of Western secularity is not so much a disenchanted subject, but a conflicted relation between a psychology defined by disenchantment and a theory of the body open to a world of invisible and untraceable forces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)144-159
Number of pages16
JournalAtlantic Studies : Global Currents
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 3 2015


  • Charles Taylor
  • obeah
  • secularity
  • tropical medicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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