The Center and the Edges: A Vodou Cosmological Journey
Vodou rituals in Haiti include geometric images called vèvès drawn on the floor of the temples. The vèvès symbolize the spirits and it is said that there are more than one hundred spirits that pervade the cosmos, each with its own vèvè. In this session, we will explore the vèvès’ relationships to Vodou’s cosmology, decipher their symbolic significance, and their ability to become the doors of spiritual perception.
Leslie G. Desmangles is Professor emeritus of Religion and International Studies at Trinity College. A native of Haiti, he was educated in Haiti, Canada and the United States and holds a Ph.D. degree in Anthropology of Religion (Religion and Culture) from Temple University in Philadelphia, specializing in African and Caribbean religions. He has published many articles on Haitian Vodou, Rastafarianism and Islam in the Caribbean. He is also the author of a 1994 award-winning book on religion in Haiti. Entitled, The Faces of the Gods: Vodou and Roman Catholicism in Haiti, this book was published by the University of North Carolina Press. Professor Desmangles is a co-founder of the Haitian Studies Association and served as its first president between 1994-1998. He is also the founder of the Journal of Haitian Studies (a journal that is currently solvent) and is currently published in three languages by the University of California at Santa Barbara. Under the umbrella of the association he edited a volume entitled Haiti in the Global Context in 1995, and served as an associate editor for the Encyclopedia of African and African American Religions, published in 2001 by Routledge Press. This encyclopedia won the 2003 Choice reference book award that same year. Professor Desmangles was honored at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association in December 2007 for his valuable contributions to Caribbean studies. In 2012 Trinity named him the Charles A. Dana Research Professor, a position that he held for two years. He is also the recipient of Temple University’s Department of Religion Distinguished Alumnus Award presented in November 2013 at the national meeting of the American Academy of Religion. He has been featured in a number of radio programs including All things Considered on National Public Radio, various news programs on the BBC radio, and has been interviewed on local and national television programs, namely NBC’s The Phil Donahue Show, the Today Show, CBS This Morning and Dateline. He has also appeared in documentaries featured on the Discovery Channel, National Geographic, the History, A & E channels in the U.S., and Vision Television Channels in Canada.
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