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Open Access A more powerful sorcerer: conversion, capital, and Haitan transnational migration

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A more powerful sorcerer: conversion, capital, and Haitan transnational migration

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image of New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids

Focusses on how since the arrival of Haitians in South Florida since 1979 many of these increasingly joined and converted to Haitian evangelical Protestant churches, and came to disavow the combined Catholic and Vodou beliefs they adhered to. Author points out how this echoes trends in Haiti since the 1970s of increased conversions to evangelical Protestantism, with these localized/Haitianized Protestant churches later also moving to Florida. She further examines the motivations behind and meanings of these conversions, and argues that poor Haitian migrants construe conversion as a rhetoric and set of behaviours for mastering a model of individual, social, and economic success in the US. At the same time, she shows how this Protestant evangelical practice offers converts an escape route from familial and other obligations and interdependence connected to traditional, transnational domestic and ritual ties, that are also spiritually and magically enforced. Author however indicates that while the pastors model for their flock an assertive, separatist disposition, central to Protestantism's historical appeal, combined with a modern, ascetic approach, underneath this is often an instrumental logic aimed at instant money and private ambition. As these traditionally were illicit rewards of sorcery and magic, the pastors are seen by some as renewed and successful sorcerers. Author further examines the conversions relating these to the moral dialectic from Vodou, known as Guinea and Magic, mediating the conflicts between individualism and community, and gives examples of often pragmatic motivations for conversion. She thus concludes that Haitians' interpretations of their conversions are unique in that they are filled with their cultural concerns, images, and morality.

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