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Our Lady of Class Struggle

A sociological analysis of the Marian devotion in Haiti that aims to reveal the differences between the poor and the elite, the forces that underlie these and to explain the connections between Marian beliefs and symbols and those of the Vooduisants.

Description

This book is one of the most extensive single ethnographical studies on religion yet conducted in the Caribbean. It is a sociological analysis of the Marian devotion in Haiti that aims to reveal the differences between the Marianism of Haitian poor and that of the Haitian elite, and to explain the forces that underlie these differences, and to understand the syncretism of Marian beliefs and symbols with their correspondents in Haitian Vodou. Data generated through over four hundred interviews with Catholics and Voduisants and extensive participant/observation at Marian feasts throughout Haiti over a four-year period is analyzed and explained with references to the theories concerning religion and class of Antonio Gramsci, Max Weber, and Pierre Bourdieu.

Two case studies personalize the elite/popular schism at the heart of Haitian Marianism, while a historical survey of the roles that the Mary symbol has played in Haitian politics reveals both the ways in which the dominant in Haitian society have, since the arrival of Columbus in 1492, attempted to manipulate the symbol and myth of the Virgin to legitimize and perpetuate the social inequalities upon which their power and privilege depends, and instances of Marian appropriation by the subjugated, who have at times transformed Mariology into a source of inspiration for struggle against domination.