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The Spirits and the Law

Author: Kate Ramsey
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
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Vodou has often served as a scapegoat for Haiti’s problems, from political upheavals to natural disasters. This tradition of scapegoating stretches back to the nation’s founding and forms part of a contest over the legitimacy of the religion, both beyond and within Haiti’s borders. The Spirits and the Law examines that vexed history, asking why, from 1835 to 1987, Haiti banned many popular ritual practices. To find out, Kate Ramsey begins with the Haitian Revolution and its aftermath. Fearful of an independent black nation inspiring similar revolts, the United States, France, and the rest of Europe ostracized Haiti. Successive Haitian governments, seeking to counter the image of Haiti as primitive as well as contain popular organization and leadership, outlawed “spells” and, later, “superstitious practices.” While not often strictly enforced, these laws were at times the basis for attacks on Vodou by the Haitian state, the Catholic Church, and occupying U.S. forces. Beyond such offensives, Ramsey argues that in prohibiting practices considered essential for maintaining relations with the spirits, anti-Vodou laws reinforced the political marginalization, social stigmatization, and economic exploitation of the Haitian majority. At the same time, she examines the ways communities across Haiti evaded, subverted, redirected, and shaped enforcement of the laws. Analyzing the long genealogy of anti-Vodou rhetoric, Ramsey thoroughly dissects claims that the religion has impeded Haiti’s development.


Spirit Possession in French Haitian and Vodou Thought

Author: M. D. Benedicty-Kokken
Publisher: Lexington Books
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This book recuperates the important history that Haitian thought around Vodou possession has had in French critical theory. The author takes the period of the 1930s and ‘40s, as the centerfold of a more complex network of relations that places Haiti as one of the pivots of a more expanded intellectual conversation around “possession,” which links anthropology, literature, psychoanalysis, human rights, and visual arts in France, Haiti, and the United States. Benedicty argues that Haiti as the anthropological other serves as a kick-starter to an entire French-based theoretical apparatus (Breton, Leiris, Bataille, de Certeau, Foucault, and Butler), but once up and running, its role as catalyst is forgotten and the multiple iterations of the anthropological other are cast back into the net of Michel-Rolph Trouillot’s “Savage slot.” The book offers the reader unfamiliar with Haiti a comprehensive interdisciplinary study of twentieth and early twenty-first century Haitian thought, including a detailed timeline of important moments in the intellectual history that connects Haiti to France and the United States. The first part of the book is about global dispossessions in the first decades of the twentieth century; the second part points to how the narratives of ‘Haiti’ are intimately linked to a Franco-U.S.-American discursive space, constructed over the course of the twentieth century, a discursive order that has conflated the representation of ‘Haiti’ with an understanding of Vodou primarily as an occult religion, and not as a philosophical system. The third and fourth parts of the book examine how the novels of René Depestre, Jean-Claude Fignolé, and Kettly Mars have revisited the notion of possession since the fall of the Duvalier dictatorships.


The Vodou Ethic and the Spirit of Communism

Author: Paul C. Mocombe
Publisher: UPA
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Using a variant of structuration theory, what Paul C. Mocombe calls phenomenological structuralism, this work explores and highlights how the African religion of Vodou and its ethic gave rise to the Haitian spirit of communism and the “counter-plantation system” (Jean Casimir’s term) in the provinces and mountains of Haiti.


Vodou in Haitian Memory

Author: Celucien L. Joseph
Publisher: Lexington Books
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Vodou in Haitian Memory examines the idea and representation of the Haitian Vodou in Haitin history, art, painting, aesthetics, and culture. Vodou is also studied from multiple theoretical approaches including queer, feminist theory, critical race theory, Marxism, postcolonial criticism, postmodernism, and psychoanalysis.


Vodou in the Haitian Experience

Author: Celucien L. Joseph
Publisher: Lexington Books
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One glaring lacuna in studies of Haitian Vodou is the scarcity of works exploring the connection between the religion and its main roots, traditional Yoruba religion. Discussions of Vodou very often seem to present the religion in vacuo, as a sui generis phenomenon that arose in Saint-Domingue and evolved in Haiti, with no antecedents. What is sorely needed then is more comparative studies of Haitian Vodou that would examine its connections to traditional Yoruba religion and thus illuminate certain aspects of its mythology, belief system, practices, and rituals. This book seeks to bridge these gaps. Vodou in the Haitian Experience studies comparatively the connections and relationships between Vodou and African traditional religions such as Yoruba religion and Egyptian religion. Such studies might enhance our understanding of the religion, and the connections between Africa and its Diaspora through shared religious patterns and practices. The general reader should be mindful of the transnational and transcultural perspectives of Vodou, as well as the cultural, socio-economic, and political context which gave birth to different visions and ideas of Vodou. The chapters in this collection tell a story about the dynamics of the Vodou faith and the rich ways Vodou has molded the Haitian narrative and psyche. The contributors of this book examine this constructed narrative from a multicultural voice that engages critically the discipline of ethnomusicology, drama, performance, art, anthropology, ethnography, economics, literature, intellectual history, philosophy, psychology, sociology, religion, and theology. Vodou is also studied from multiple theoretical approaches including queer, feminist theory, critical race theory, Marxism, postcolonial criticism, postmodernism, and psychoanalysis.


The Oxford Handbook of Modern African History

Author: John Parker
Publisher: OUP Oxford
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The Oxford Handbook of Modern African History represents an invaluable tool for historians and others in the field of African studies. This collection of essays, produced by some of the finest scholars currently working in the field, provides the latest insights into, and interpretations of, the history of Africa - a continent with a rich and complex past. An understanding of this past is essential to gain perspective on Africa's current challenges, and this accessible and comprehensive volume will allow readers to explore various aspects - political, economic, social, and cultural - of the continent's history over the last two hundred years. Since African history first emerged as a serious academic endeavour in the 1950s and 1960s, it has undergone numerous shifts in terms of emphasis and approach, changes brought about by political and economic exigencies and by ideological debates. This multi-faceted Handbook is essential reading for anyone with an interest in those debates, and in Africa and its peoples. While the focus is determinedly historical, anthropology, geography, literary criticism, political science and sociology are all employed in this ground-breaking study of Africa's past.


Haiti The Aftershocks of History

Author: Laurent Dubois
Publisher: Metropolitan Books
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A passionate and insightful account by a leading historian of Haiti that traces the sources of the country's devastating present back to its turbulent and traumatic history Even before the 2010 earthquake destroyed much of the country, Haiti was known as a benighted place of poverty and corruption. Maligned and misunderstood, the nation has long been blamed by many for its own wretchedness. But as acclaimed historian Laurent Dubois makes clear, Haiti's troubled present can only be understood by examining its complex past. The country's difficulties are inextricably rooted in its founding revolution—the only successful slave revolt in the history of the world; the hostility that this rebellion generated among the colonial powers surrounding the island nation; and the intense struggle within Haiti itself to define its newfound freedom and realize its promise. Dubois vividly depicts the isolation and impoverishment that followed the 1804 uprising. He details how the crushing indemnity imposed by the former French rulers initiated a devastating cycle of debt, while frequent interventions by the United States—including a twenty-year military occupation—further undermined Haiti's independence. At the same time, Dubois shows, the internal debates about what Haiti should do with its hard-won liberty alienated the nation's leaders from the broader population, setting the stage for enduring political conflict. Yet as Dubois demonstrates, the Haitian people have never given up on their struggle for true democracy, creating a powerful culture insistent on autonomy and equality for all. Revealing what lies behind the familiar moniker of "the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere," this indispensable book illuminates the foundations on which a new Haiti might yet emerge.


Liberty Fraternity Exile

Author: Matthew J. Smith
Publisher: UNC Press Books
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In this moving microhistory of nineteenth-century Haiti and Jamaica, Matthew J. Smith details the intimate connections that illuminate the conjoined histories of both places after slavery. The frequent movement of people between Haiti and Jamaica in the decades following emancipation in the British Caribbean brought the countries into closer contact and influenced discourse about the postemancipation future of the region. In the stories and genealogies of exiles and politicians, abolitionists and diplomats, laborers and merchants--and mothers, fathers, and children--Smith recognizes the significance of nineteenth-century Haiti to regional development. On a broader level, Smith argues that the history of the Caribbean is bound up in the shared experiences of those who crossed the straits and borders between the islands just as much as in the actions of colonial powers. Whereas Caribbean historiography has generally treated linguistic areas separately and emphasized relationships with empires, Smith concludes that such approaches have obscured the equally important interactions among peoples of the Caribbean.


Routledge International Encyclopedia of Women

Author: Cheris Kramarae
Publisher: Routledge
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For a full list of entries and contributors, sample entries, and more, visit the Routledge International Encyclopedia of Women website. Featuring comprehensive global coverage of women's issues and concerns, from violence and sexuality to feminist theory, the Routledge International Encyclopedia of Women brings the field into the new millennium. In over 900 signed A-Z entries from US and Europe, Asia, the Americas, Oceania, and the Middle East, the women who pioneered the field from its inception collaborate with the new scholars who are shaping the future of women's studies to create the new standard work for anyone who needs information on women-related subjects.


The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture

Author: Glenn Hinson
Publisher: Univ of North Carolina Press
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Southern folklife is the heart of southern culture. Looking at traditional practices still carried on today as well as at aspects of folklife that are dynamic and emergent, contributors to this volume of The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture examine a broad range of folk traditions. Moving beyond the traditional view of folklore that situates it in historical practice and narrowly defined genres, entries in this volume demonstrate how folklife remains a vital part of communities' self-definitions. Fifty thematic entries address subjects such as car culture, funerals, hip-hop, and powwows. In 56 topical entries, contributors focus on more specific elements of folklife, such as roadside memorials, collegiate stepping, quinceanera celebrations, New Orleans marching bands, and hunting dogs. Together, the entries demonstrate that southern folklife is dynamically alive and everywhere around us, giving meaning to the everyday unfolding of community life.