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Healing in African and African Diasporic religions encompasses a wide variety of rituals and practices.
Rites of healing can involve allopathic, homeopathic, and therapeutic measures that pertain to the individual as well as the collective. Healing rites linked with the arts may seek to return a person to a previous state of health, or usher them into a new state of being. In much of Africa and the African Diaspora, healers offer holistic remedies to treat people’s physical ailments, social conditions, and psychological states. Studying healing and the arts thus serves as a lens to study identities of self, community, and society more generally. A focus on the healing arts can include the study of material implements, sacred objects, the sensorial sphere of expressive culture, and embodied systems of knowledge.
Throughout the Africana world, the healing arts have not been separated into mutually exclusive categories of medical care and aesthetic experience. Modes of healing are aesthetically engaged through a multiplicity of performative actions. Often treated as epiphenomena, these expressive domains are often central to healing. In what ways do suffering and affliction activate such aesthetic responses? How do the Black healing arts inflect disease, illness, and sickness on individual, social, and political bodies?