Spirituality, movement and resistance to enslavement in the Caribbean: Resistance lecture series

Explore the forms of resistance with Isaac Crichlow and Adisa the Verbaliser!

Isaac Crichlow and Adisa the Verbaliser will be discussing the practice of two African-derived cultural practices by Africans and Afro-Creoles within the Caribbean – obeah and Kalenda, along with other forms of resistance such as music, dance and hair.

Obeah is a spiritual system that was carried to the Americas by ritual specialists and utilized by the enslaved for various purposes. Obeahmen, the practitioners of this spiritual system, were seen principally as an alternative authority to that of the enslavers. As such they were consulted by the enslaved to seek justice, to cure illness, and to lend legitimacy to acts of organised resistance. Isaac will explore each of these aspects of the practice drawing on primary accounts from across the Caribbean.

Kalenda is an African-derived stick-fighting martial art – which was used to gain proficiency in swordplay, for recreation, and to defend honour. Isaac will outline the various West and Central African influences on the practice of stick-fighting and the process of creolisation which brought Kalenda into being, using examples from the French Caribbean where the practice was most widespread. He will discuss its contribution to acts of resistance during and after the period of slavery.    Adisa will talk about how he brought to life the research on Kalenda and martial arts that Isaac did, when running workshops with schools and community groups.

Adisa the Verbalizer is a London-based poet and a winner of ‘New Performance Poet of the year’. He is an educationalist and workshop facilitator with aims to make poetry and performance accessible. Adisa is on a mission to take poetry to the people wherever he find them; taking his words from place to place and promoting the value and impact of powerful performance which can both entertain an audience and take great delight in words and self-expression.

Isaac Crichlow is studying for a PhD in the Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slavery at University College London.  He is particularly interested in a perspective which ties the culture of the Caribbean to that of West Africa.  He is currently researching the African fighting techniques and skills used by the West India regiments in the 18th century.

This lecture series accompanies the Palace’s upcoming exhibition on the Bishop of London, colonialism and transatlantic slavery.  The focus of the exhibition is the systems of physical and spiritual resistance that ultimately led to the ending of the transatlantic traffic in enslaved Africans and slavery itself in the British Empire. The exhibition will include a film featuring the work by Adisa, the project artist, and schools and community groups, and a timeline featuring resistance, Church of England against the backdrop of world events.