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Catholic Pentecostalism in Haiti: Spirit, Politics, and Gender

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This paper explores one of the most impressive developments in Haitian religion over the last few decades, that of the Catholic Renewal, situating it in the context of broader social and political change and gauging its trajectory in the course of modern Haitian religious history. While not ignoring the important and related issues of syncretism and apostasy, it focuses on three of the most salient aspects of the renewal in Haiti: 1) its confrontational posture toward the nationally popular African-based religion of Vodou; 2) its contribution to a depoliticization of popular Catholicism; and 3) the overwhelmingly female composition of its membership. What sociological interpretations can be made of all of these aspects, and what specifically Haitian dimensions to them can be discerned? Through historical, regional, and global contextualizations, combined with the author’s multi-site ethnographic research conducted intermittently over a 15-year period, these and related questions are here critically addressed.


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Affiliations: 1: Associate Professor of Religion; Temple University, Email:


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