Fixing and Healing: Vodou and Social Change in New Orleans

Daniel Walker (2011). Fixing and Healing: Vodou and Social Change in New Orleans PhD Thesis, School of History, Philosophy, Religion & Classics, The University of Queensland.

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Author Daniel Walker
Thesis Title Fixing and Healing: Vodou and Social Change in New Orleans
School, Centre or Institute School of History, Philosophy, Religion & Classics
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2011-07
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Assoc Prof Lynne Hume
Dr Helen Farley
Total pages 197
Total colour pages 14
Total black and white pages 183
Language eng
Subjects 22 Philosophy and Religious Studies
Abstract/Summary The religion of Vodou as it is practised in New Orleans has undergone significant changes over the last two hundred and fifty years. These have included shifts from a very public profile to being practically hidden and from a focus of personal gain and empowerment to community healing. These changes can be linked to the social changes taking place in the city. New Orleans has experienced multiple international administrations, regular hurricanes, periodic bouts of yellow fever and malaria, complicated racial relations, civil war, emancipation, segregation, reconstruction and devastation. It was originally part of a French colony, was later transferred to Spanish ownership, and returned briefly to France before being purchased by the American Government in 1804, but its cultural heritage is much harder to define. Since its earliest days its residents established their own ethics, which outsiders often found shocking or disturbing. In the eighteenth century, French white settlers began having children with their African slaves, producing a group of people known as mulattos, who spoke French, were often educated, and lived constantly between two worlds. Race became more complicated than the colour of one’s skin, and social relationships followed intricate paths between slaves, white owners, and the free people of colour. This thesis examines how the religion of Vodou has responded to social change in New Orleans and, in typical Vodou fashion, how it has adapted in order to survive. A combination of ethnographic fieldwork and historical research is used, and is contextualised within a broad framework of social change theory, although the entire approach is multidisciplinary. It also examines the nature of spiritual leadership, and the ways in which Vodou leaders are perceived within their broader communities, as well as the impact individual leaders have had on the practise of the religion.
Keyword Vodou
New Orleans
Social change
Marie Laveau
Sallie Ann Glassman
Additional Notes 41, 61, 76, 103, 109, 111, 113, 133, 134, 137, 147, 151, 153, 180.

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Created: Mon, 23 Jan 2012, 17:43:38 EST by Mr Daniel Walker on behalf of Library - Information Access Service