Vodou en Vogue: Fashioning Black Divinities in Haiti and the U.S
In this innovative ethnographic study, Eziaku Nwokocha explores two Vodou temples located in Mattapan, Massachusetts and Jacmel, Haiti, each run by a Haitian practitioner and former fashion designer named Manbo Maude. Nwokocha investigates Manbo Maude’s temples as sites of innovation that reflect the dynamic relationship between religious ritual, material aesthetics, and spiritual embodiment within African Diasporic religions. The production of ritual garments within these primary research locations spotlights how adornment practices are key to serving the gods, illuminating a larger economy of fashion and spiritual exchange. Through insights gained from over a decade of participant observation in Vodou ceremonies in Montreal, New York, Miami, Boston and Haiti, Nwokocha illustrates how fashion in the religious and social life of Vodou contributes to transnational communal identity formation in the African Diaspora. This inaugural book on fashion and Haitian Vodou weaves together the performativity of gender, race, the multisensorial experience of religion, and religious and material exchanges between Africa and the African Diaspora, all while contemplating what the gods want and demand from worshippers. Nwokocha shows that in Vodou, the spirits have the capacity to impact Black people’s everyday lives, removing any divides between the sacred and the secular and manifesting in vivid, creative displays of ceremonial fashion.
Forthcoming, release date TBA