• E-Books
  • Latest Catalogs
  • Books for Courses
  • Exhibits Listing
  • View Cart

About the Book

Beyond the Book

<SPAN STYLE= "" >The Faces of the Gods</SPAN>

240 pp., 6.125 x 9.25

ISBN  978-0-8078-4393-2
Published: December 1992

The Faces of the Gods

Vodou and Roman Catholicism in Haiti

By Leslie G. Desmangles

Awards & Distinctions

A 1994 Choice Outstanding Academic Book

Vodou, the folk religion of Haiti, is a by-product of the contact between Roman Catholicism and African and Amerindian traditional religions. In this book, Leslie Desmangles analyzes the mythology and rituals of Vodou, focusing particularly on the inclusion of West African and European elements in Vodouisants' beliefs and practices.

Desmangles sees Vodou not simply as a grafting of European religious traditions onto African stock, but as a true creole phenomenon, born out of the oppressive conditions of slavery and the necessary adaptation of slaves to a New World environment.

Desmangles uses Haitian history to explain this phenomenon, paying particular attention to the role of the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century maroon communities in preserving African traditions and the attempts by the Catholic, educated elite to suppress African-based "superstitions." The result is a society in which one religion, Catholicism, is visible and official; the other, Vodou, is unofficial and largely secretive.

About the Author

Leslie G. Desmangles is professor of religion and international studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. He was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.


"With this book Desmangles has made a significant contribution to providing a scholarly understanding of Vodou. He has shown Vodou to be a well-developed, vibrant folk religion that has played and continues to play a major role in the religious lives of the common people of Haiti. . . . Professors of sociology, anthropology, and religion would be wise to give this book serious consideration for adoption in either graduate or undergraduate courses that deal with folk religion."
--Sociology of Religion

"An accessible, comprehensive overview of the folk religion of Haiti known as Vodou that takes into account the tremendous variety of religious forms as well as outside influences on the religion. . . . Vital for students of African American and Caribbean religions, but also of interest to anthropologists, political scientists, and historians of religion. Highly recommended."

"The first comprehensive overview of Vodou in the twentieth century that takes into account the tremendous variety of religious forms and influences within the faith. Drawing from first-hand fieldwork in Haiti and the Republic of Benin, the author recognizes Vodou's continuities and discontinuities with the African past. Vital for students of African-American religions, but also of interest to anthropologists, political scientists, sociologists and historians of religion. Likely to be the authoritative study on this topic for years to come."
--Stephen D. Glazier, University of Nebraska at Kearney

Related Titles

<SPAN STYLE= "" >The Walking Qur'an</SPAN>

The Walking Qur'an

Islamic Education, Embodied Knowledge, and History in West Africa

By Rudolph T. Ware III

A detailed examination of Qur'an schools yields insight into Islam

Learn More »

<SPAN STYLE= "" >Zero Hunger</SPAN>

Zero Hunger

Political Culture and Antipoverty Policy in Northeast Brazil

By Aaron Ansell

The triumphs and failures of Lula's anti-poverty policies in practice

Learn More »

<SPAN STYLE= "" >The Age of Youth in Argentina</SPAN>

The Age of Youth in Argentina

Culture, Politics, and Sexuality from Perón to Videla

By Valeria Manzano

Youth at the center of revolution

Learn More »

© 2012 The University of North Carolina Press
116 South Boundary Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27514-3808
How to Order | Make a Gift | Privacy
Greenpress Initiative Network Solutions