Synopses & Reviews
"This is a startling, stunning, and fascinating book about the blend of music, religion, and politics in Haitian culture. McAlister's mastery of many different ways of knowing makes this study an endless source of insight, intrigue, and inspiration. Rara!
succeeds magnificently as an exploration into Rara rituals and Haitian music, but it also presents original and generative insights into every aspect of Haiti's past, present, and future."and#151;George Lipsitz, author of Dangerous Crossroads
"This is a major contribution to the literature on Vodou, Haiti, popular culture, Caribbean culture and music, transnational immigrant practices, and the corpus of black religions in the Americas. It is an extremely well-written, well researched and argued, and highly readable book."and#151;Lawrence H. Mamiya, co-author of The Black Church in the African American Experience
"This is a smart and thoughtful book by a very talented ethnographer. Anyone interested in Haiti will appreciate the work of Elizabeth McAlister."and#151;Karen Brown, author of Mama Lola: A Vodou Priestess in Brooklyn
"A rare in-depth look at an extremely popular, yet often misunderstood phenomenon. With this book and CD, Elizabeth McAlister, an involved observer, makes an incalculable contribution to our musical and cultural literature."and#151;Edwidge Danticat, author of The Farming of Bones: A Novel
Rara is a vibrant annual street festival in Haiti, when followers of the Afro-Creole religion called Vodou march loudly into public space to take an active role in politics. Working deftly with highly original ethnographic material, Elizabeth McAlister shows how Rara bands harness the power of Vodou spirits and the recently dead to broadcast coded points of view with historical, gendered, and transnational dimensions.
This book, which includes a 24-track CD, is the first full-length study of the religious music festival known as Rara as it is traditionally practiced in Haiti and Brooklyn. A centuries old religious tradition with roots in plantation slavery, this community-produced music grows out of Afro-Haitian voodoo and is frequently used to launch political criticism.
About the Author
Elizabeth McAlister is AssociateProfessor of Religion at Wesleyan University.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
Notes to the Compact Disc: Rara!
1. Work and Play, Pleasure and Performance
2 Vulgarity and the Politics of the Small Man
3 Mystical Work: Spirits on Parade
4 Rara and "the Jew": Premodern Anti-Judaism in Postmodern Haiti
5 Rara as Popular Army: Hierarchy, Militarism, and Warfare
6 Voices under Domination: Rara and the Politics of Insecurity
7 Rara in New York City: Transnational Popular Culture
Appendix: Chronology of Political Events, 1990-1995, Annotated with Transnational Rara Band Activity