The Jew in the Haitian Imagination

Elizabeth McAlister

in Race, Nation, and Religion in the Americas

Published in print September 2004 | ISBN: 9780195149180
Published online April 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835386 | DOI:
The Jew in the Haitian Imagination

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This essay explores the contemporary legacies of colonial religious discourses, by examining how participants in Haiti’s annual Rara festival—a Lenten carnival and public performance of Haitian Vodou—at once inherit and transform the anti-Jewish sentiments of the clergy in colonial Saint Domingue. Through an active identification with the Jews who “killed Jesus,” disenfranchised Haitians reinvent the European demonization of Jews and Africans, deconstructing colonial religious categories from within, in order to craft rituals of resistance to their country’s predominantly Catholic and mulatto elites.

Keywords: Haiti; Rara; Vodou; Catholicism; Jews; colonialism; anti-Judaism; proto-racism; Lenten carnival; rituals of resistance

Chapter.  9661 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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