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#815: Taino and Ginen Questions (fwd)


[Corbett asks:  While the request below is from a scholar asking for
information which you might be tempted to mail directly to her, I
request that anyone with views be sure to send them to the list.  It
is a topic that, in my memory, we've never discussed and I think a
large number of people will be interested, so, please, let's carry
out this discussion on the list.  Thanks,  Bob Corbett]

I am a religious studies scholar with a specialty in religion and culture.  I 
am currently working on two different Vodou projects.  I'm interested in 
comments from everyone on the Corbett line who has insights, and also invite 
any of you to send this message on to others who might have a response to my 
two questions.  
First, as a participant in a seminar that is studying globalization, I am 
researching the various cultures that came together in Haiti to form Haitian 
Vodou.  So much is written about the African religious traditions, and how 
those first Africans brought to Haiti used the Christian categories of the 
colonizers.  Other than Maya Deren's work, though, I have not found specific 
information about how the Taino population might have influenced the 
formative period of Vodou.  That lack of information stands in contrast to 
several conversations I had in Haiti this past May (and earlier) with various 
people, all who spoke of Vodou as much more of a blending of African and 
Taino traditions.  Does anyone know of resources, or have your own stories, 
about the relationship between the Taino peoples who lived on the island and 
the developing cultural and religious traditions in Haiti?
Second, I write the word "Ginen" from its rendering on Boukman Ekspyerans CDs 
here in the States.  My understanding of Ginen comes from this music, as well 
as from conversations with various folks in Port-au-Prince.  As I use the 
word, I think of dedication to serve the people and to serve love.  I think 
of those Vodou houngans and mambos who work only "with the right hand."  Here 
is a quote from one of my friends in Port-au-Prince, "The north is the place 
to go for sure and I know a guinen old woman who would be wonderful to 
visit."  This leads me to the question of the Ginen movement.  My sense of 
things is that Vodou is undergoing a renaissance within Haiti and the Haitian 
Diaspora in which the spirit of Ginen is growing.  This has been called the 
Ginen movement.  Is the Ginen (Guinen? how would you spell it?) movement a 
true movement?  If so, what are its characteristics?  Is is a part of the 
Diasporic community?
At this point in my studies I'm in the beginning stages of collecting 
information about both of these subjects.  This information will appear in 
its early forms in a paper written for the globalization seminar, and in a 
presentation I will make later this month on Vodou ritual as a source of 
liberation within Haitian culture.  I will be most grateful for all responses.

Shelley Wiley