Vodou and Films: Some Recommendations

Vodou and Films: Some Recommendations

A friend of mine who will be teaching a class on Vodou and Films in the fall semester 2022 has asked me for some recommendations. I would like to share my suggestions with you, Good people!

I. Vodou Anthology/ies

There are only two anthologies/readers in the English language on Haitian Vodou: the influential two volumes Patrick Bellegarde-Smith and Claudine Smith coedited (Arguably, this is “The Classic Anthology” on Haitian Vodou), and the two-volume texts that Nixon Cleophat and I coedited. Both volumes were published in 2016 by Lexington Books; here are the titles:

• Vodou in Haitian Memory: The Idea and Representation of Vodou in Haitian Imagination by Celucien L. Joseph by Nixon S. Cleophat
• Vodou in the Haitian Experience: A Black Atlantic Perspective by Celucien L. Joseph and Nixon S. Cleophat

***You would appreciate the gender and performative components, as well as the intellectual and historical aspects of my books.

II. Films/Documentaries on Vodou:

The films and documentaries that I recommend below were done both in Haiti and Africa; in that way, you would gain a valuable perspective, that is, the African and Haitian perspective on Vodou.

• “Divine Horsemen – The Living Gods of Haiti” (51 minutes: 1993) directed by Maya Deren, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Tla44ZDyZs
“The Living Gods of Haiti is a documentary film about dance and possession in Haitian vodou that was shot by experimental filmmaker Maya Deren between 1947 and 1952 and edited and completed by Deren’s third husband Teiji Ito and his wife Cherel.”
• “Voodoo Mounted by the gods” (1 hr 12:2012): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bLJqMANCI0&t=1334s
“A documentary directed by famous switzerland photographer Alberto Venzago. He has been shooting for 10 years a child who was chosen to become a voodoo priest. Mighty and sublime film produced by Wim Wenders, written by Kit Hopkins and music by Jochen Schmidt-Hambrock.”
• “Voodoo (full documentary)” by New Atlantis Full Documentaries (53:03 minutes:2013) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtKpkm7xYi8
• “Voodoo Mysteries | Full Documentary” by Planet Doc Full Documentaries (52: 05 minutes: 2014), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PFzbDDnaZWo
• “Voodoo in Togo” by African History Documentary (35:14 minutes: 2019), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibJ_bPb4jOQ

***

  • Reza Aslan, BELIEVER (CNN)- episode on Vodou
  • WHITE ZOMBIE (1932)
  • THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW (1988)

III. Top Books on Haitian Vodou in the English Language

Below, I recommend some of the most important books (19 books in total), written in the English language, that explore Haitian Vodou in its complexity, as well as its multidimensional and interdisciplinary aspects.

  1. Voodoo and Politics in Haiti by Michel S. Laguerre
  2. Faces of the Gods: Vodou and Roman Catholicism in Haiti by Leslie G. Desmangles
  3. Secrets of Voodoo by Milo Rigaud
  4. Haitian Vodou: Spirit, Myth, and Reality edited by Patrick Bellegarde-Smith and Claudine Michel
  5. Vodou in Haitian Life and Culture: Invisible Powers edited by Patrick Bellegarde-Smith and Claudine Michel
  6. Vodou in Haitian Memory: The Idea and Representation of Vodou in Haitian Imagination edited by Celucien L. Joseph by Nixon S. Cleophat
  7. Vodou in the Haitian Experience: A Black Atlantic Perspective edited by Celucien L. Joseph and Nixon S. Cleophat
  8. Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti by Maya Deren and Joseph Campbell
  9. The Spirits and the Law: Vodou and Power in Haiti by Kate Ramsey
  10. Mama Lola: A Vodou Priestess in Brooklyn by Karen McCarthy Brown and Claudine Michel
  11. Revolutionary Change and Democratic Religion: Christianity, Vodou, and Secularism by Celucien L. Joseph
  12. Rara! Vodou, Power, and Performance in Haiti and Its Diaspora by Elizabeth McAlister
  13. Vodou Nation: Haitian Art Music and Cultural Nationalism by Michael Largey
  14. Spirit Possession in French, Haitian, and Vodou Thought: An Intellectual History by Alessandra Benedicty-Kokken
  15. A Transatlantic History of Haitian Vodou: Rasin Figuier, Rasin Bwa Kayiman, and the Rada and Gede Rites by Benjamin Hebblethwaite
  16. Nan Domi: An Initiate’s Journey into Haitian Vodou”by Mimerose Beaubrun
  17. Vodou Songs in Haitian Creole and English by Benjamin Hebblethwaite
  18. Haiti, History, and the Gods by Joan Dayan
  19. The Vodou Ethic and the Spirit of Communism: The Practical Consciousness of the African People of Haiti by Paul Mocombe
  20. Dancing Spirits: Rhythms and Rituals of Haitian Vodun by Gerdès Fleurant
  21. The Drums of Vodou, by Lois Wilcken with Frisner Augustin

In my opinion , “Nan Domi: An Initiate’s Journey into Haitian Vodou” by Mimerose Beaubrun is one of the top books on the deep spiritual dimensions of Haitian Vodou.

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