Misinterpretation Of African Based Religions: Vodou

2091 words - 8 pages

There is absolutely no human group which does no react to the changes, disturbing events and crises which the dynamics of history introduce into the physical or cultural context to which the group belongs. Any quick change, an internal or external conflict whatever, produces a crisis. To each crisis, society responds by slowly developing new forms and new means to bring about balance within the limits of the particular cultural group. Sometimes the crises and wounds are so serious that they threaten the vey existence of the group. Their whole existence seems to be on the line. In such a case, the most secret and active forces in their whole culture are mobilized so as to develop adequate means for their liberation. These means are the forces of religious life.

These are the words of anthropologist and religious historian Vittorio Lanternari. Through the lens of Lanternari Haitian Vodou can be examined. Throughout history political and ideological considerations of the West have given rise to many misinterpretations concerning the nature of Haitian Vodun. Vodun has received a reputation for being superstitious “Black magic”. Practitioners of Haitian Vodou have historically not objectified the religion as such but rather said that they “serve the spirits.” This connects to the way Vodou challenges the boundaries that the concept of “religion” seems to presume, from transformative assimilating aspects of Roman Catholicism to centrally incorporating healing processes. The ascribed identity of Vodou reflects a great deal more about Haiti’s place in the geopolitical order over the past two centuries than about the set of complex of beliefs and rituals. Due to a colonial mentality that dismisses all non-Western cultures as barbarous, Vodou has now been condemned. In particular when Vodou is referenced in regards to Haiti is most often discussed as a religion of resistance. Some scholars misinterpret Haitian Vodou as a form of a resistance rather than a continuation of African traditions. Rather than seeing Vodou as a religion that came to fruition during a time of resistance, it is better to examine the ways and which Haitians called upon forces, including their Vodou religion, to mobilize in order to develop adequate means for their liberation. Yet and still the West has long viewed and continues to view Haitian Vodou through a distorted lens. In the nineteenth century as, the Republic of Haiti suffered from a unique degree of economic and political isolation implemented and enforced by the powerful slave holding empire as nations that surrounded it, Vodou was commonly represented as the ultimate antithesis of civilization, as a case of African superstition reborn in the Americas. Upon further examination it becomes evident that Vodou is not an expression of the racial and cultural resistance of an oppressed class of people within a hostile society but a legitimate religion that stems from another way to think about and engage with world.
In...

Find Another Essay On Misinterpretation of African Based Religions: Vodou

Statement of Purpose Essay

1554 words - 6 pages to which rituals of death in Afro-Caribbean ecstatic religions (e.g., Cuban Santeria, Brazilian Candomblé and Umbanda, and Haitian Vodou) appear as aesthetic representations of a cultural resistance and a means of healing for individuals and communities. With this new stance, I returned my attention to San Basilio de Palenque, because I agree with Diana Taylor’s contention that “it is urgent to focus on the specific characteristics of

Haitian Homes and Way of Life

1493 words - 6 pages interesting types of religions. The main types of religion are Vodue, Roman Catholicism, and Protestantism. Haitian Vodue is a mixture of multiple types of Vodue. The basic beliefs of Vodue are that there are spirits, or deities, called Lwa that are lower to the god called Bondye. They believe that these spirits can and do interfere with our world. They also believe that they change the afterlife based on the actions of the humans that they “watch

An Ethnographical Analysis of Haiti and Current Medical Practice

1413 words - 6 pages Haitian culture offers a wide range of explanation for illness based upon the social, cultural and religious beliefs. The explanations are also dependent upon the locations and the class. They hold multiple views since they mainly rely on hybrid models which eventually lead them to consult for an illness from different persons. Haitian culture has divided illness in various groups. They are: maladi Bondye (Natural disease as an act of God

Introduction to Indigenous Traditions

1226 words - 5 pages anthropologists who provided another powerful insight into indigenous religions (p32 -33). African religions shared a common focus based on what they called a supreme being just like the western God and the subordinates. {6.} According to Awolalu (1976), indigenous African religion is a religion whose historic founder is neither known nor worshipped. Some of the fundamental beliefs include the belief that this world was brought into being by some of all

Religion in Africa is Versatile, Varying and Abundant

1661 words - 7 pages religious practices. There are also specific distinctions between the common religions based on geographical locations from North to South. To begin, it must be clear that religions within Africa extend beyond the reach of modern religions and traditions, and while individuals are being converted every day, there are still traces within the lives of African people that are rooted in the pre-modern religions of the area. Many of these religions

Togo

1440 words - 6 pages animistic practices (51 percent) including Yoruba-based sects associated with vodou (voodoo). Christian consists of 29 percent, many of whom are Roman Catholic, the rest are Protestant and independent Christian communities. Muslim makes up 20 percent of the population. Culture Many ethnic groups influence the culture of Togo, predominantly the Ewe, Tchamba, Tem, Mina, and Kabre. French is the official language. Like other African peoples, the Togolese

The Various Religions in Africa and Religions African-Americans Preach

1286 words - 5 pages Religions from all parts of the world flourished in Africa. The second most widespread religion in Africa is Islam. Islam was introduced to Northern Africa in the seventh century. In the following centuries it spread along the eastern African coast and into the grasslands of Western Africa. By the twentieth though, Islam had penetrated into the remaining portions of Africa. Today, a Mussulman is able to travel from Monrovia to Batavia without

The True Meaning Of A Religion

1658 words - 7 pages system. "The movement as a whole used many biblical reference and ideology to free themselves" (Dubb). Many of the Rastafarian ideologies are based on African tradition and direct references with personal interpretation of them from the Bible. For Instance their hairstyles, dreadlocks, are very symbolic of being a Rasta. "Dreadlocks in Jamaica were worn as a political and religious statement against the "establishment"" (Dubb). It emphasized

Point of convergence between Ruch's understanding of African Philosophy and Tempels'

2397 words - 10 pages philosophy, others, like Hountondji, argue that African philosophy is an illusion. The main reasons for the refutation of African philosophy are based on the fact that unlike Western philosophy, African philosophy is not recorded and is not scientific. The appropriate question here would be: are Africans able to philosophise - 'making sense of their existence', or it is only Westerners? This is the question I intend to tackle in this essay. In order

Where, when and how African culture became a part of the culture of the Americas

1608 words - 6 pages an "African" culture came about on the slave ships of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, where Africans of various nationalities, languages, religions and cultures were packed into tight quarters and sent to the Americas. While their backgrounds were often very different, the terror, abuse and uncertainty of this journey united them. It has also been said many times and in many ways that the best way to form an alliance is through the sharing of a

Review of James H. Cone's Martin & Malcolm & America: A Dream or A Nightmare

1954 words - 8 pages Elijah Muhammad that revolved around the ideas that African-Americans were the chosen race of God and that white people were devils that would eventually be destroyed. Cone explains that these were ideas that Malcolm could believe in because of his experiences. Malcolm's strong convictions in his faith, Cone assesses, is what would lead to the beliefs that Malcolm would become known for such as, "By any means necessary

Similar Essays

The Development Of Haitian Vodou Essay

2361 words - 9 pages inherently African, nor inherently indigenous. Like the religions that it derived from, Haitian Vodou is polytheistic with one supreme being called Bondye; Bondye translates to good god. He is also distant from the people and isn’t directly worshipped. Bondye gives power to the spirits, known as lwa. Like their African counterparts, the laws are given authority over different forces of nature. Instead of being regarded as a pantheon of deities

How The Portrayal Of Zombies In Literature Reflect The Beliefs Of A Given Era

2667 words - 11 pages Tibet. According to Wylie, the gdon spirits which are bound by vow to defend the Buddhist religion create tantric ro-langs while those who break their vows create the demonic kind (72). Haiti’s zombies are also closely related to Haitian Vodou beliefs. Haitian Vodou is all about spiritual rights and beliefs. It combined all the beliefs of the Tainos, the African slaves and the European colonizers. The narratives, practices and deities vary

Understanding The Basic Principles Of Voodoo

1935 words - 8 pages the West, African religions are still some of the most maligned and misunderstood religions in the world.” (Mama Zogbé) Voodoo, Vodoun, or Vodun, is far more complicated and spiritual than the misunderstandings surrounding it would lead one to believe; through its practices, beliefs, and priests/priestesses, it has served many Africans through conflicted times, and has remained strong even after thousands of years of opposition and practice. To

Voodoo Essay

1551 words - 6 pages Play, Trilogy of Terror, and Chloe-Love is Calling You. Hollywood’s portrayals of Voodoo in movies, thus invalid. Voodoo was founded in Haiti, back when the slaves were brought in from the African homelands. African and Christianity beliefs were easily merged because they are not all that different. Both religions are similar in ways of baptism, or ritual purification. Both believe one God created all people (Hintz 95). In place of God is a Supreme