Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2014

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Emery, Mary Lou

First Committee Member

Kruger, Marie

Second Committee Member

Thaggert, Miriam

Third Committee Member

Curtius, Anny

Fourth Committee Member

Turner, Richard B


My dissertation titled "Mambos, Priestesses, and Goddesses: Spiritual Healing Through Vodou in Black Women's Narratives of Haiti and New Orleans" reclaims the practice of Vodou as an integral African spiritual tradition through fiction by black women writers. I discuss how the examination of Vodou necessitates the revision of colonial history, serves as an impetus for reevaluating the literary representation of the black female migrant subject, and gives voice to communities silenced by systemic oppression. I parallel novels by contemporary women writers such as Erna Brodber, Jewell Parker Rhodes and Edwidge Danticat with Zora Neale Hurston's ethnographic research in the early twentieth century in order to examine how Vodou is utilized as a literary trope that challenges racist, stereotypical representations of African spirituality in American popular culture. It is also an examination of the shared socio-cultural history between Haiti and New Orleans that coincides with political and environmental changes. Although Vodou has been disparaged as primitive magic, my work demonstrates its profound social, cultural, and political significance; and its important transformations from a nineteenth-century practice to a twenty-first century strategy of survival.


Haiti, New Orleans, Vodou, Zora Neale Hurston


iv, 190 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 181-190).


Copyright © 2014 Angela Denise Watkins