Catching Power: Science, Spiritual Work and Altered Solidarities in Trinidad


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This dissertation examines practices of spiritual work known as science in the Anglophone Caribbean. While often glossed as ‘witchcraft’ or ‘superstition,’ Caribbean science signals an ideology of force and justice that catches and re-values juridical powers and categories of race. Through the ethnography of a protest movement against police brutality, in which ‘supernatural’ forces animate solidarity, this project argues against the opposition between superstition and law that justified the colonial management of Caribbean peoples. By examining practices of ‘catching power,’ in which Afro-Trinidadian mediums manifest Hindu deities or European scientists to heal clients, it proposes a counter-narrative of ‘altered solidarity’ that unsettles the politics of race and syncretic mixture in the Americas.