Constructing Africa: Authenticity and Gine in Haitian Vodou


McGee A. Constructing Africa: Authenticity and Gine in Haitian Vodou. Journal of Haitian Studies. 2009;14 (2) :30-51.


Gine, a word which means “Africa,” has been an important site of contested meaning in Haitian Vodou. As a continent, it is a lost homeland. As heaven, it is a source of longing and a hoped-for eschaton. As an aesthetic category, Gine has served as a form of religious capital through which various competing social forces have attempted to create and maintain orthodoxy. With the rise of the priesthood, Gine increasingly became a resource only the clergy could summon and control. Yet, the clergy’s innovation of ritual acts to summon Gine into any space made it possible for Vodou to survive in the form we know today. Scholars and artists—many of whom were “outsiders”—also played a substantial role in identifying which traditions would come to be seen as the most “authentic” expressions of Vodou.

Last updated on 11/15/2013