Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > After God is Music: Affliction, Healing, and Warfare in Haitian Pentecostalism
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This dissertation explores a version of Pentecostal-charismatic Christianity in Haiti popularly known as Lame Selès (Fr. L’Armée Celeste), or “The Heavenly Army.” Within Haiti’s Protestant population more broadly, these independent Pentecostal communities are often viewed with suspicion and accused of being charlatans or practitioners of Vodou in a Christian guise on account of their combinatory ritual practices and musical styles. Based on data drawn from fieldwork among some of these communities in Port-de-Paix, Haiti, I argue that these independent Pentecostal communities are an important site of the kind of religious combination that has long characterized religion in Haiti and the Black Atlantic world. Drawing on resources within the “hot” and combative Petwo style of Vodou and combining it with “spiritual warfare” discourse from within global Pentecostal and charismatic Christian culture, these communities use music and divine healing to engage and attack spiritual sources of affliction common among the poor majority in contemporary Haiti, ranging from bodily and mental illness to anxiety and official injustice. In the years following the 2010 earthquake, Haiti’s Protestant population has grown dramatically and continues to grow, leading some to speculate about the disintegration of “traditional” Haitian religious practice. These communities of independent Pentecostals, however, illustrate the vitality of Haiti’s religious culture and its productive combinatory practices. Through their engagement in an explicit spiritual war with the spirits of Vodou, independent Pentecostal communities forge a symbiotic relationship with Vodou and provide new bodies, spaces and discourses for the spirits to inhabit, even if radically revalued within them.