Lecture: "One and One is Three: Edwidge Danticat's Vodou Transnationalism"
Mon, October 1, 2012 • 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM • GEB, 4th Floor Conference Room
Gwen Bergner, West Virginia University
The dynamic religion of Vodue in Haiti indicates the modern character of this island nation formed at the crossroads of cultural and economic exchange in the Black Atlantic. Yet ever since the Haitian Revolution produced the Atlantic world's first free black nation in 1804, U.S. commentary persistently invokes a savage and sinister "voodoo" as shorthand for and evidence of Haiti's political incompetence and cultural barbarism. Such fantasies of voodoo have worked to rationalize U.S. interventions in a presumably failed state while simultaneously preserving the illusion that Haiti remains isolated from modern civilization.
In her novel Breath, Eyes, Memory, Edwidge Danticat reclaims Vodou to imagine a new geography of transnational citizenship that bridges the imagined distance between Haiti and the U.S. Danticat deploys the Marasa, the spirit twins of Vodou, to characterize the paradoxical dualities of diasporic citizenship and to connect the ordinarily untold history of sexual violence against women to the politics of the nation. The novel's Vodou sensibility reconfigures the transnational feminist approach to framing sexual violence against women within the discourse of human rights.
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