More Than a Misunderstood Religion: Rediscovering Vodou as a Tool of Survival and a Vehicle for Independence in Colonial Haiti.

The majority of Americans today closely associate the term “Voodoo” with satanism, witchcraft and barbaric sacrifice. Yet, far from these ill­formed depictions and misconceptions— which first took root through the western dominance of 18th century colonial Haiti and have been perpetuated through mediums of popular culture ever since—a closer look at Haitian Vodou will illuminate that the spiritual practice transcends religion alone and should be better recognized as the very mechanism of unity that spurred Afro­Caribbean independence via the Haitian Revolution of 1791. This paper explores not only the ways in which Haitian Vodou has been intentionally demonized throughout history in order to maintain western supremacy, but also scrutinizes Vodou as a product of transnationalism. Attempting to highlight the ways in which the evolving religion has shaped both the inhabitants of New Orleans throughout the twenty and twenty­first centuries, as well as Haitian migrants post­revolution, this essay serves as a framework for rediscovering Vodou as more than a misunderstood religion.