African Diaspora Religions in Haiti and Cuba

Event Start Date: September 21, 2017 3:00 PM
Event End Date: September 21, 2017 5:00 PM


Thursday, September 21, Pugh 302
3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

You are cordially and warmheartedly invited to two special presentations on “African Diaspora Religions in Haiti and Cuba.” Dr. Tsang and Dr. Jayaram are remarkable scholars. They are energetic and passionate researchers who have already established reputations in their fields. Please come out to support their visit to our Department!

Haitian Creole Proverbs and Vodou: a Sociolinguistic Dans - Kiran C. Jayaram, University of South Florida
3:00 – 3:50 pm (Pugh 302, Thursday, September 21)

Proverbs, as a form of communicative practice, are imbued with meaning in context. Vodou, as religion, includes beliefs about humans’ relationship to supernatural entities. What can be learned about Vodou through the study of Haitian Creole proverbs? This presentation will show various ways in which Haitian Creole proverbs can be interpreted as revealing beliefs of Vodou. I argue that understanding proverbs requires switching back and forth between proverb-as-cultural-hologram of the particular sociolinguistic and ecological context in which it was created and proverb-as-utterance used in a specific a sociolinguistic context. First, I demonstrate that proverbs include reference to beliefs found among Vodou believers through direct reference to sacred words. Next, I show how certain proverbs may be invoked as a part of a Vodou-based belief system. Then, I draw upon anthropology to show how proverbs become cultural holograms for a specific ecological context that can be used in novel situations.

Founding figure of Haitian Studies in the United States, Professor Bryant Freeman recorded over 5,000 proverbs during his almost five decades of work in Haiti. In addition to informing this presentation, these entries will form the foundation of a future digital archive.

From Cabildo to Casa: The Formation and Practices of Afro-Atlantic Religions in Cuba  - Martin A. Tsang, University of Miami
4:05 - 4:55 pm (Pugh 302, Thursday, September 21)

Cuba’s rich spiritual terrain features multiple, intersectional African-derived religions that established and spread throughout the island from the inception of the Atlantic slave trade. The ritual proximity of Yoruba, Dahomian, Efik and Kongo ethnic groups with indigenous, Asian, and European persons helped form religious complexes that are practiced both in Cuba and the diaspora. In this presentation, Martin Tsang will discuss the trajectory of these religions through history, material culture, and its practitioners where, despite continued socio-cultural challenges and economic barriers to practice, these religions continue to thrive and draw unprecedented new initiates. 

The Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures & The Vodou Archive at the University of Florida.