Often misrepresented, stereotyped and misunderstood, this talk will discuss the history of Haitian Vodou. Vodou is a religion that emerged from the cultural traditions of enslaved Africans, syncretised with forced Catholicism, on the Caribbean Island of Haiti. Dr Louise Fenton will explore the evolution of Vodou before offering a visual journey through the intricacies of the religion, an overview of the belief systems and the rituals. Vodou has had a turbulent history, persistently facing persecution. This talk will explore the attempts by the Church and State to eradicate this religion through the anti-superstition campaigns and the US Occupation. It will then examine some of the mysteries that have evolved through the literary and cinematic representations in the early twentieth century, those that have reinforced prejudice and led to the generalised term ‘Voodoo’ in the Western imagination. This talk will offer an overview of Vodou, a vibrant religion and a cultural force that has survived and thrived.
Speaker: Dr Louise Fenton is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Wolverhampton. Her PhD in Caribbean history from the University of Warwick was on the History and Influence of Haitian Vodou within British and American cultural production. Louise’s research interests are in Haitian Vodou, New Orleans Voodoo, Icelandic Witchcraft and European Witchcraft. She has written about the demise of the cinematic zombie in Recovering 1940s Horror Cinema (Lexington, US, 2014) essays on various representations of Vodou in The Voodoo Encyclopaedia: Magic, Ritual and Religion (ABC-Clio, US, 2015), poppets and the social history of curses. She curated the 2017 exhibition at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic Poppets, Pins and Power, which explored the social history of curses and cursed objects. As an artist Louise also uses her visual practice within her research and is currently working on Atmospheric Spaces and Enchanted Places.