Kate Ramsey

Assoc. Professor

(305) 284-5581
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About Kate Ramsey

Kate Ramsey works on Caribbean history and culture. Her research and teaching interests include the politics of religion, law, and performance in the Caribbean; histories of medicine and healing in the Atlantic world; and Caribbean intellectual history, artistic production, and social movements. Her first book, The Spirits and the Law: Vodou and Power in Haiti (Chicago, 2011), centers on the history and legacies of penal and ecclesiastical laws against the Vodou religion in Haiti. It won the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians First Book Prize, the Elsa Goveia Book Prize from the Association of Caribbean Historians, the Haitian Studies Association Haiti Illumination Project Book Prize, and a Médaille Jean Price-Mars from the Faculté d’Ethnologie, Université d’État d’Haïti. Ramsey is co-editor with Louis Herns Marcelin of Transformative Visions: Works by Haitian Artists from the Permanent Collection (Lowe Art Museum, 2015), and was co-curator of the exhibition by the same name.

Ramsey’s current research is focused in two ways. One project studies how early writings about and laws against Afro-Caribbean spiritual practices were shaped by medical theories of mind-body interaction during the final decades of British Caribbean slavery. Her article “Powers of Imagination and Legal Regimes against ‘Obeah’ in the Late Eighteenth- and Early Nineteenth-Century British Caribbean” was published in Osiris 36. It was awarded the 2022 Percy G. Adams Prize of the Southeastern American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies. Ramsey is currently working, as well, on the history of Vodou objects confiscated by U.S. marines during the 1915-1934 occupation of Haiti, and thereafter donated or sold to anthropology, natural history, and military museums in the United States and beyond. Based on collaborative research with Rachel Beauvoir-Dominique, this project spotlights the interlinked histories of Afro-Caribbean religion, U.S. imperialism, and museum collecting during the early to mid-twentieth century. Ramsey serves on the Board of KOSANBA: A Scholarly Association for the Study of Haitian Vodou.



2002Ph.D. Cultural Anthropology, Columbia University

LIST OF SPECIALTIES: Caribbean, Cultural, Religion, Law, Medicine, Performance

LIST OF SPECIALTIES: Caribbean, Cultural, Religion, Law, Medicine, Performance

Honors & Acknowledgements

2015-2018 UM College of Arts and Sciences Gabelli Senior Scholar Award


Kate Ramsey The Spirits and the Law: Vodou and Power in Haiti (The University of Chicago Press. 2011). [Link]

Kate Ramsey, Louis Herns Marcelin Transformative Visions: Works by Haitian Artists from the Permanent Collection (Coral Gables, Lowe Art Museum. 2015). [Link]

Kate Ramsey "Powers of Imagination and Legal Regimes against ‘Obeah’ in the Late Eighteenth- and Early Nineteenth-Century British Caribbean." Therapeutic Properties: Global Medical Cultures, Knowledge, and Law 46-63Osiris 36 (2021). [Link]

Kate Ramsey "A Vodou Drum at the British Museum" (2018). [Link]

Kate Ramsey Haiti in Translation Series Vodou in Translation (2018). [Link]

Kate Ramsey The Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro-Latin American Biography Biography of Jean-Léon Destiné335-337 (Oxford, Oxford University Press. 2016). [Link]

Kate Ramsey "Without One Ritual Note: Folklore Performance and the Haitian State 1935-1946." Caribbean Popular and Creative Cultures. Radical History Review 203-23084 (Kingston, Jamaica. Ian Randle Publishers. 2016).

Kate Ramsey Katherine Dunham: Recovering an Anthropological Legacy, Choreographing Ethnographic Futures Katherine Dunham and the Folklore Performance Movement in Post-U.S. Occupation Haiti (Santa Fe, School for Advanced Research Press. 2014). [Link]

Kate Ramsey Production du savoir et construction sociale: l'ethnologie en Haïti Duverneau Trouillot: Ethnographe révisionniste du Vodou.13-20 (Port-au-Prince: Éditions de l’Université d'État d'Haïti; Québec: Presses de l'Université Laval. 2014). [Link]

Kate Ramsey The Journal of Haitian Studies Vodouizan Protest An Amendment to the Constitution of Haiti.272-28119 (Spring 2013). [Link]

Kate Ramsey Transition Magazine Vodou, History, and New Narratives31-41111 (2013). [Link]

Kate Ramsey The Journal of Haitian Studies ‘Voodooism’ to ‘Vodou’: Changing a US Library of Congress Subject Heading.18, 2 (Fall 2012). [Link]

Kate Ramsey Gradhiva: Revue d’anthropologie et de muséologie Prohibition, Persecution, Performance: Anthropology and the Penalization of Vodou in Mid-Twentieth-Century Haiti165-1791 (Winter 2005).

Kate Ramsey Race, Nation, and Religion in the Americas Legislating ‘Civilization’ in Postrevolutionary Haiti.231-258 (Fall 2002).

Kate Ramsey "Without One Ritual Note: Folklore Performance and the Haitian State" Radical History Review 7-4284 (Fall 2002).

Kate Ramsey Dancing Bodies, Living Histories: New Writings about Dance and Culture. Melville Herskovits, Katherine Dunham, and the Politics of African Diasporic Dance Anthropology.196-216 (Banff, Alberta. Banff Centre Press. 2000).