Medical Revolutionaries: The Enslaved Healers of Eighteenth-Century Saint Domingue

TitleMedical Revolutionaries: The Enslaved Healers of Eighteenth-Century Saint Domingue
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsWeaver, Karol K.
Number of Pages163
PublisherUniversity of Illinois Press

Herbalists, diviners, nurses, midwives, and veterinary practitioners flourished in the medical world of eighteenth-century Saint Domingue. Using Western, African, and Caribbean remedies, they treated the maladies of slaves, white residents, and animals. While these enslaved medical practitioners were an important part of the plantation economy and colonial prosperity, they ultimately roused their fellow slaves to rebel against and overthrow French rule. Karol K. Weaver's Medical Revolutionaries asserts that understanding the origins of the Haitian Revolution – one of the most important political events of its time – requires understanding the role of these healers in inspiring and actually leading the overthrow. Weaver explains that the enslaved healers emerged as significant leaders of slave communities through a process of cultural retention, assimilation, and creation. The healers profited economically from their practices and used their position to conceive and implement an ideology of resistance via the destruction of human and animal life, occupational sabotage, and terrorism.

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