Diana Paton: “The Racist History of Jamaica’s Obeah Act”

Repeating Islands

obeah-970x685Diana Paton (University of Edinburgh professor and author of The Cultural Politics of Obeah) writes in detail about the history of Jamaica’s Obeah Act as public figures call to decriminalize (or not) the religious practice. As she explains, the Obeah Act in Jamaica has been to reinforce class and race hierarchies as “those who supported harsh Obeah laws, including many middle-class Jamaicans, intended that the law should intervene broadly in everyday cultural life to wean Jamaicans away from beliefs and practices understood as connected to Africa.” Read the original article at The Gleaner.

Obeah is in the news again, since Minister of Justice Delroy Chuck said earlier this month that he hoped to see the Obeah Act repealed. Responses have ranged from the attorney general’s claim that “obeah has always been known” to do “nothing but harm to others” to declarations that the law is a “discriminatory colonial anachronism”…

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