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Vodú Chic: Haitian Religion and the Folkloric Imaginary in Socialist Cuba

Author(s): Grete Viddal

Journal: New West Indian Guide
ISSN 1382-2373

Volume: 86;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 205;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: Cuba | Haiti | Vodú | Vodou | migration | haitiano-cubano | folklore | tourism | dance | heritage festivals | performance

During the first three decades of the twentieth century, hundreds of thousands of Haitian agricultural laborers arrived in Cuba seeking employment in the expanding sugar industry. Historically, Haitian cane cutters were marginal and occupied the lowest socio-economic status in Cuban society. Until relatively recently, the maintenance of Haitian spiritual beliefs, music, dance, and language in Cuba were associated with rural isolation and poverty. Today however, the continuation of Haitian customs is no longer linked with isolation, but exactly the opposite: performance troupes, heritage festivals, art exhibitions, the circulation of religious specialists, collaborations with research centers and academia, endorsement by music promoters, and the tourism industry. Cubans of Haitian heritage have found innovative ways to transform the abject into the exotic, and are currently gaining a public voice in cultural production, particularly through folkloric performance.
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