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African Vodun: Art, Psychology, and Power

by Blier, Suzanne Preston A

  • ISBN: 9780226058580
  • ISBN10: 0226058581

African Vodun: Art, Psychology, and Power

by Blier, Suzanne Preston A

  • List Price: $60.00
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publish date: 01/01/1994
  • ISBN: 9780226058580
  • ISBN10: 0226058581
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Description: In this first major study of its kind, Suzanne Preston Blier examines the artworks of the contemporary vodun cultures of southern Benin and Togo in West Africa as well as the related vodou traditions of Haiti, New Orleans, and historic Salem, Massachusetts. Comprised of beads, bones, rags, straw, leather, pottery, fur, feathers, and blood, and often tightly bound with cords, vodun artworks yield a wide range of insights into the provocative workings of emotional expression, power, and artistic representation. The power of these objects, which can be either figural sculptures, (actual symbol not reproducible), or nonfigural works known as bo, lies not only in their aesthetic, and counteraesthetic, appeal but also in their psychological and emotional effect. As objects of fury and force, these works are intended to protect and empower people and cultures that, in both precolonial and postcolonial periods, have long lived in threat of war, enslavement, disease, malnutrition, and violent death. Blier employs a variety of theoretically sophisticated psychological, anthropological, and art historical approaches to explore the contrasts inherent in the vodun arts - commoners versus royalty, popular versus elite, "low" art versus "high". She examines the relation between art and the slave trade, the psychological dynamics of artistic expression, the significance of the body in sculptural expression, and indigenous perceptions of the psyche and its corollaries in art. Throughout, Blier pushes African art history to a new height of cultural awareness that recognizes the complexity of traditional African societies as it acknowledges the role of social power in shaping aesthetics and meaninggenerally. This book will be of critical importance not only to those concerned with African, African American, and Caribbean art, but also to anthropologists, scholars of the African diaspora, students of comparative religion and comparative psychology, and anyone fascinated by the traditions of vodou and vodun.
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