John M. Janzen
Religion and healing are modern scholarly constructs that are perhaps useful to summarize, consolidate, and interpret a myriad of details from 15th to 19th century African-Atlantic experience, although they do not appear per se in the myriad of self-perceptions of those people and groups covered here. Likewise, the views of scholars and other observers of these phenomena (the historiography) shift from one era and author to the next so as to appear unrecognizable, one to the other. For heuristic purposes, religion is understood as the worldviews, rituals, and personified beings that represent ultimate reality; healing is the understanding of, and responses to, affliction and misfortune, and the struggle to achieve wholeness and wellbeing. Combining these two dimensions in an overview of the African diaspora experience means considers the following: original African worlds, in a number of regional contexts in Western and Western Central Africa (e.g., Senegambia; Upper Guinea; Southern Guinea; Kongo-Angola); the traumatic Middle Passage and refracted in the “broken mirrors” of memory (e.g., in slavery narratives); how this memory is mixed and reinterpreted with the New World experience of slave markets, plantations, and maroon settlements; the impact of this experience within the diversity of Portuguese, British, French, and Dutch colonial settings, and Catholic, Protestant, and Muslim religious orientations.