Planet Earth

The Anthropology of Vodou

A new exhibit opens at the Field Museum in Chicago.

By Gemma TarlachAug 28, 2014 12:00 AM
fighting-spirit.jpg
Artifacts in the Vodou exhibit include a horned figure (above) symbolizing the fighting spirit of slaves who overthrew their oppressors in 1804. | Canadian Museum of History/Frank Wimart

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Vodou: Sacred Powers of HaitiField Museum, Chicago

Forget dolls stuck full of pins, New Orleans tourist traps and blood-soaked Hollywood stereotypes: The Field Museum’s new exhibit skips myths and misconceptions in favor of a rich cultural anthropology case study.

Through centuries of hardship, poverty and turmoil, the spiritual practice of Vodou — that’s the correct spelling — has helped Haitians find meaning and even express their creativity through visual arts and music. More than 300 authentic objects from Haiti will be on display, some accompanied by video interviews with practitioners. Opens Oct. 24.

[This article originally appeared in print as "Just Don't Call It Voodoo."]

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