Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: January 26, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412964623 | Print ISBN: 9781412936361 | Online ISBN: 9781412964623| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Vodou in Haiti
Vodou designates the indigenous religion of Haiti. Emerging out of the contact between enslaved Africans and white planters during Haiti's colonial period (1492–1804), Vodou is fundamentally an African religion, which, in Haiti, given the peculiar historical circumstances, combined in its theology some Roman Catholic beliefs and practices. Popular Western novels, films, and spurious accounts by tourists have depicted Vodou (and its derivative Voodoo) incorrectly as sorcery, ritual zombification, and ritual cannibalism. Such depictions are derisive or even racist because a close examination of the religion's rituals or practices fails to find any evidence that would give credence to these negative views. The word Vodou derives from the Beninese (or Dahomean) Fon words vodu or vodun , meaning “deity” or “spirit.” The word is used in Benin and Haiti to designate a community of divine and ancestral spirits who are identified with the natural forces of the universe and who participate ...