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#1099: links to the past: Dayan's HAITI, HISTORY AND THE GODS

From: ali grrl <legb_a@hotmail.com>

I have just finished reading Joan Dayan's *Haiti, History and the Gods*.  In 
this monumental text she posits something which I would like to explore 
further.  Dayan suggests that the language of Vodou, the words that are used 
in Vodou liturgy and those used to describe to rites and rituals of Vodou, 
reveal a deeply embedded connection between the rituals of Vodou and 
experiences of slavery.  Discussing terms such as servis (ceremony), monte 
chwal, met tet, m sevi lwas (I serve the lwas), Dayan suggests that "the 
terminology of Vodou repeats or enacts the experience of slavery but allows 
the speakers to hold on to a freedom that goes beyond such intentional 
signification" (70).

I wanted to ask members of the list what they think of this?  Do they agree 
with these translations of *Vodou terms*?  And, more specifically, do they 
think that these terms are mere remnants of the past?  And, if so, how do 
they resonate with Vodou practitioners today?  What meaning do they convey 
for those in the diaspora?  And what meaning do they hold for those in Haiti 
and the DR, facing all that they face today?

I am not sure I am comfortable with the connections being made between Vodou 
and slavery, and I would greatly appreciate your opinion on these issues.

Alexandra Boutros

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