Published online by Cambridge University Press: 08 February 2021
This chapter introduces the conceptual, theoretical and methodological framework of the book, with focus on cross-cultural medical encounters in Africa and the Atlantic world. It discusses health and healing in African settings, in which medicine and medical cultures have been configured spatially and temporally in different ways, with multiple nexuses between healing and political power. Bringing together histories of healing from the Black Atlantic world, the chapter highlights medical pluralism as a central concept to describe the context of healing in this in the early modern period. From the point of view of cross-cultural medical interaction, Europeans shared a number of assumptions about illness causation and therapeutic practice with Africans. This common ground led to widespread reliance on African healing and harming specialists. Not all medicines were beneficent, but accusations about the use of sorcery and poison occasionally emerged in European documentation.