VODOU AT THE CROSSROADS OF KNOWLEDGE
Sunday, May 1 @ 1:30 pm
212 NE 59th Terrace, Miami, FL 33137 United States
This presentation by Dr. Jerry M. Gilles aims to explain how Vodou songs and dances were used by Africans in the “West Indies” as a tool to educate their children about their homeland on the West Coast of Africa. The songs also documented their aspirations in the Americas, composed in the context of how they viewed the universe and their role in it. It will be vital to explain certain African traditional concepts before we can interpret key songs. This approach will allow us to appreciate numerous Haitian proverbs, such as “God alone is greater than us,” and “when we the Creoles needed a weapon, the Ancestors heeded our call.” We will show how some Vodou songs testify to the terror of the Middle Passage, and do so well, because the songs are the collective memory of an entire community. This presentation will address a dear and sacred subject passed down to us from our Ancestors, whose intelligence and valiant insights ensured the continuation of our culture. Moderated by Vodou priestess and activist Carole Demesmin, one of Haiti’s most revered contemporary artists.
Dr. Jerry M. Gilles is the author of Remembrance: Roots, Ritual, and Reverence in Vodou (Bookmanlit, 2009). Gilles’ formal training is in medicine. His great- grandfather was a traditional Haitian healer, who treated with herbs what Dr. Gilles now treats with pharmaceutical products often derived from those same herbs. Vodou is fascinating to Dr. Gilles because it is a repository of the knowledge, culture, and beliefs brought to Haiti from Africa. Dr. Gilles is an associate professor who has published in numerous peer review journals including the New England Journal of Medicine. He is a graduate of Columbia University and SUNY at Stonybrook.