Talking to the Dead is an ethnography of seven Gullah/Geechee women from the South Carolina lowcountry. These women communicate with their ancestors through dreams, prayer, and visions and traditional crafts and customs, such as storytelling, basket making, and ecstatic singing in their churches. Like other Gullah/Geechee women of the South Carolina and Georgia coasts, these women, through their active communication with the deceased, make choices and receive guidance about how to live out their faith and engage with the living. LeRhonda S. Manigault-Bryant emphasizes that this communication affirms the women's spiritual faith-which seamlessly integrates Christian and folk traditions-and reinforces their position as powerful culture keepers within Gullah/Geechee society. By looking in depth at this long-standing spiritual practice, Manigault-Bryant highlights the subversive ingenuity that lowcountry inhabitants use to thrive spiritually and to maintain a sense of continuity with the past.
LeRhonda S. Manigault-Bryant is Assistant Professor of Africana Studies at Williams College.
Acknowledgments ix Prologue. Talking to the Dead xiii Introduction. Gullah/Geechee Women 1 1. Culture Keepers 24 2. Folk Religion 66 3. "Ah Tulk to de Dead All de Time" 104 4. "Sendin' Up My Timbah" 136 5. Lived Memory 172 Epilogue. Between the Living and the Dead 205 Appendix A. Companion Audio Materials 211 Appendix B. Interview Format and Demographics 213 Notes 217 Select Bibliography 251 Index 267