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Peasants, Migrants And The Discovery Of African Traditions: Ritual And Social Change In Lowland Haiti

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Chapter Summary

This chapter takes up Métraux's challenge to argue that the congregational forms and practices authorized as Vodou were not the authentic African religion of the peasants, but rather conventions of an evolving peri-urban institution. It deals with the way in which these innovations were incorporated into ritual practices and recast as authentic African traditions in a particular hamlet in Leogané, called Ti Rivyè. In Ti Rivyè, the agents of diffusion of temple customs appear to have been not only redundant peasants and neophyte proletarians circulating between the capital city and the nearby plain, but also ethnologists who moved between privileged sites of the Vodou laboratory. Despite Métraux's provocative inference in Vodou en Haïti regarding the relationship of modernity to Vodou, he singled out his visit to the unnamed temple in Ti Rivyè as an example from the countryside of the purer practices of the domestic cult.

Keywords: authentic African traditions; lowland Haïti; Métraux; peasants; ritual practices; Ti Rivyè



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