Call for Papers: “Anthropologie de la médecine créole haitienne”


Here is a call for papers for a collection of essays entitled Anthropologie de la médecine créole haïtienne [Anthropology of Haitian Creole medicine], a book project edited by Obrillant Damus (Professor at the State Universities of Haiti and Quisqueya) and Nicolas Vonarx (Professor at Laval University, PhD Program Director in Community Health). The deadline for submissions is May 31, 2018.

Description: In all societies, one may find are explanatory answers to disease and the corresponding practical answers. These responses are more or less socially shared and, in some cases, form systems of care and medication that are more or less elaborate. These responses are disseminated as secular knowledge related to health-illness, and can also present themselves as expert knowledge in the hands of recognized therapists and caregivers who make themselves available for support research and therapeutic remedies. The whole presents a medical landscape that allows for making sense of the events that are diseases, and that seeks to solve, erase, mitigate and prevent their manifestations.

In Haiti, as elsewhere in the world, the medical landscape is plural. If we stop only at the experts, therapists, and healers that the population consults, we remember that it is equipped with oungans, bokòs, manbos (vodou practitioners), medsen-fèy (leaf doctors), matròns (midwives), pè-savann (fathers-savannas), by therapists active in healing churches (especially pastors) and health professionals attached to health services registered in an institution of biomedical practice (doctors, nurses, pharmacists, in particular). Most of these figures were already present at the time of plantation society while others arise from historical contingencies and diverse factors.

Indeed, to heal, the slaves of Santo Domingo had developed knowledge in herbal medicine. Toussaint Louverture, the first black general of the French Republic, who plays a leading role in the independence of Haiti, is himself a médecin-feuille [a leaf doctor], a specialist in plants and bones. During the war of independence, women cared for injured soldiers with plants. After independence, they continued to care for their counterparts in rural communities. They helped in pregnancies, during and after the birth of their children. In 2013, midwives performed 97.10% of non-institutional deliveries, according to a report on health statistics published by the Ministry of Public Health and Population.

Transmitted from generation to generation, Creole medicine, widespread in all social strata, is at once magical, symbolic, religious, mythological, technical and rational. For reasons of a geographical, economic, cultural and social nature, the rural population uses it more than the urban.

While often considering that the presence of Western medicine should lead to the erasure of other areas of care and other therapeutic figures, we can ask ourselves if this is really the case in Haiti, if the other figures react to the presence of imported theories, practices and services, and to the social changes taking place in Haiti. Overall, we can ask ourselves how all these actors fare today, competing in this medical landscape; how they negotiate the presence of others; what they offer to the people who consult them; how they are organize themselves at a practical level to answer the requests addressed to them; how these practices are transformed according to encounters; and which sets of knowledge are the sources.

The call for papers aims to shed light on this aspect of the Haitian medical landscape, its plurality, the interactions that take place and the singularity of the figures listed above. It is intended for researchers in the humanities and health sciences who are interested in Haitian Creole medicine. Contributions on Haitian medicine and figures displaced in the diaspora, in the Caribbean region, Europe, and the United States will also be taken into account.

Each article should be from 15 to 40 pages long (with 1.5 spacing, Times New Roman 12 font for the main text, 10 for citations and footnotes). Bibliography must conform to APA standards. The deadline for contributions is 31 May 2018. The collection will be published by December 2018, at the latest.

Contact Obrillant Damus at

Contact Nicolas Vonarx at

Translated by Ivette Romero. For full description, in French, see

[Image above: “Areca catechu, betel palm.”]

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