The Experiential Caribbean

Creating Knowledge and Healing in the Early Modern Atlantic

By Pablo F. G贸mez

314 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 3 halftones, 2 maps, 5 tables, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-3087-8
    Published: April 2017
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-3088-5
    Published: February 2017
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-5017-1
    Published: February 2017
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-3086-1
    Published: April 2017

Buy this Book

For Professors:
Free E-Exam Copies

To purchase online via an independent bookstore, visit

Awards & distinctions

William H. Welch Medal, American Association for the History of Medicine

2018 Albert J. Raboteau Book Prize, Journal of Africana Religions

Honorable Mention, Bolton-Johnson Prize, Conference on Latin American History

Opening a window on a dynamic realm far beyond imperial courts, anatomical theaters, and learned societies, Pablo F. G贸mez examines the strategies that Caribbean people used to create authoritative, experientially based knowledge about the human body and the natural world during the long seventeenth century. G贸mez treats the early modern intellectual culture of these mostly black and free Caribbean communities on its own merits and not only as it relates to well-known frameworks for the study of science and medicine.

Drawing on an array of governmental and ecclesiastical sources鈥攏otably Inquisition records鈥擥贸mez highlights more than one hundred black ritual practitioners regarded as masters of healing practices and as social and spiritual leaders. He shows how they developed evidence-based healing principles based on sensorial experience rather than on dogma. He elucidates how they nourished ideas about the universality of human bodies, which contributed to the rise of empirical testing of disease origins and cures. Both colonial authorities and Caribbean people of all conditions viewed this experiential knowledge as powerful and competitive. In some ways, it served to respond to the ills of slavery. Even more crucial, however, it demonstrates how the black Atlantic helped creatively to fashion the early modern world.

About the Author

Pablo F. G贸mez is assistant professor in the Department of Medical History and Bioethics and the Department of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
For more information about Pablo F. G贸mez, visit the Author Page.


鈥淕贸mez explores the relationship between localized knowledge creation and the practice of health and healing in the early modern Atlantic. Recommended.鈥濃Choice

鈥淲ith a sharp eye for epistemic difference, deep knowledge of medical science (G贸mez has an M.D.), and an engaging style, G贸mez demonstrates that the scientific revolution took place in the margins of the seventeenth-century Atlantic world, in the hands and minds of people of African descent.鈥濃Bulletin of the History of Medicine

"This is a fascinating and challenging book that will reward readers in a variety of fields, including the history of early modern science and medicine, but also those interested in the broader social and intellectual history of the Caribbean and Atlantic world."鈥Early Science and Medicine

"The book's conceptual breadth and imagination make it a valuable contribution to literatures ranging from Atlantic slavery to science studies and the history of medicine."鈥Medical History

"A sweeping, ambitious, and provocative analysis of the various practices and beliefs black ritual specialists and healers in the Caribbean employed under Spanish colonial rule."鈥Manguinhos

鈥淎 fascinating overview of medical practices from the perspective of ritual practitioners of African descent in the Caribbean in the long seventeenth century.鈥濃Isis