Deus in Machina: Religion, Technology, and the Things in Between

By Jeremy Stolow | Go to book overview

Virtual Vodou, Actual Practice
Transfiguring the Technological

Alexandra Boutros

Haitian Vodou has a long history as a secret religion. In the French colony of Saint Domingue—until 1804, when it became the independent nation of Haiti—Vodou was practiced covertly by slaves of African origin who hid their rituals to avoid penalty under Louis XIV’s Code Noir, which sanctioned brutal corporal punishment for the practice of any religion other than Roman Catholicism. The religion continued to be practiced largely in secret even after Haitian independence, in part because its practitioners continued to be persecuted. The “anti-superstition” campaigns waged until the 1940s by the politically influential Catholic Church are just one example of a protracted history of persecution Vodou has faced.1

The secrecy of Vodou has also traveled with its practitioners. As Haitians emigrated from Haiti, often fleeing political and religious persecution, they brought Haitian Vodou to North America. While Haitian migration to North America has existed at least since the advent of the Haitian nation, it has more recently come in waves that have shaped the Haitian diaspora in Canada and the United States. The first major wave of contemporary Haitian migration happened in the 1950s and 1960s and consisted of

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