Book Reviews / Pneuma 30 (2008) 315-370 367 Stephanie Y. Mitchem, African American Folk Healing (New York: New York University Press, 2007). ix + 189 pp. $65.00 hardback; $20.00 paper. Stephanie Mitchem, womanist scholar and associate professor of religious studies at the University of South Carolina, defines African American folk healing as “the creatively developed range of activities and ideas that aim to balance and renew life” (p. 11). While various names, mostly vague and pejorative, have been used to identify African American folk healing — including conjure, conjuration, hoodoo, juju, rootwork, and superstition — Mitchem suggests instead that folk healing is a special way of knowing aimed at humanizing persons and resisting any forces that would dehumanize them. Healing is the practice of reconciling persons, connecting individuals to their bodies, and achieving harmony between human beings and their physical environments. Mitchem claims that African American ideas about wellness are not Western but essen- tially African. Folk healing is rooted in what she calls a “black mystical tradition,” focusing on the experience of the self as timeless and unbounded for the purpose of making possible the transcendence of constraints which, at any given time, may inhibit human ﬂ
Pneuma – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2008
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