Cemetery hoodoo: Culture, ritual crime and forensic archaeology

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


In 2012 and 2014 the author was a consultant to law enforcement regarding crime scenes of a ritualistic nature in the American Southeast. These ritual activities were expressions of folk magic spells linked to certain West African traditions. These spells were used for magico-religious, curative, and ‘justice’ (i.e. revenge) practices known as hoodoo, conjure or rootwork. The ritual activities were conducted at gravesites in a public cemetery. When standard investigative police procedures failed to produce anything substantive with which to solve, prevent, or even understand the motive beyond one of ’vandalism,’ or ‘kids fooling around,’ the author was approached to contribute forensic archaeological and anthropological insights that had thus far proved elusive. This article is an examination of how cultural anthropological understanding and a forensic archaeological “eye” to an outdoor crime scene can re-define crime scene investigative methodology and interpretation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-23
Number of pages7
JournalForensic Science International: Synergy
StatePublished - 2020


  • African
  • Anthropology
  • Conjure
  • Forensic archaeology
  • Hoodoo
  • Rootwork
  • Voodoo

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Cemetery hoodoo: Culture, ritual crime and forensic archaeology'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this