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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Spirits of Haiti Catholicism, Cultural Crossroads, & the Uniquely Haitian Experience
by Eich, Lauren, M.A., The University of Alabama, 2017, 90; 10285073
Abstract (Summary)

This thesis examines the characteristics of the spirits Ezili, Legba, and Ogou, in order to determine which aspects of their manifestations incorporate themes of syncretism from Catholic tradition, and which aspects reflect visual tradition that emerged from distinctly Haitian tradition. Elements of Catholic and African traditions, discernable within Vodou iconography, act as a basis upon which the practice was further augmented. These adaptations reveal the mixing of cultures and continuation of tradition that is of central importance to the development of Vodou, as reflections of the process through which the religion overcame the social problems faced by the practitioners, as well as the culturally devastating consequences of Haitian colonial history. These diversifications from the Christianity and African traditions reflect the ingenuity and resourceful nature of Vodou, which through its fluid nature, can be transformed to accommodate the needs of the devotees.

Through a postcolonial methodology, this thesis demonstrates that through the syncretism of Catholic themes, the influence of the West African origins of the Vodou, and the unique experiences of the people in Haiti, the iconography of Vodou visual culture interacted of other religions as it evolved into a distinctly Haitian practice. By looking at the spirits Ezili, Legba, and Ogou, alongside their counterparts of the Virgin Mary, St. Peter, and St. George (or St. James) this essay will outline the syncretization of these spirits with Christian icons, while making parallels to the development of Christian iconography which borrowed from pagan imagery in an effort to place the importance of a figure within a pre-established lineage that placed importance on the image.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Castenell, Wendy
Commitee: Feltman, Jennifer, McPherson, Heather
School: The University of Alabama
Department: Art History
School Location: United States -- Alabama
Source: MAI 57/01M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Art history
Keywords: Ezili, Haitian art, Legba, Ogou, Vodou, Vodou flags
Publication Number: 10285073
ISBN: 978-0-355-35217-7
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