Vodou and Politics in Haiti

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African History Project – Haitian Vodou (2)

Haitian Vodou is one of the most enduring, powerful and consequential world religions. There is perhaps no other world religion that in its theology, practice and general consciousness so directly manifests the political and social history of its adherents.

It is at once a religion and a national identity. The unique place of Haiti in world history and particularly in Black political consciousness, as well as the important place of Vodou in Haitian consciousness and particularly in Haitian political consciousness, makes the study of the political history of the religion very important. 

This engaging course introduces students to Haitian Vodou and its role in the political culture and history of Haiti. Students will explore the tenets of the faith before exploring the role it has played in shaping Haitian political life, the attempts made by many governments, foreign and domestic, to suppress it, and how various leaders have used it to bolster national identity.

This course will facilitate political, theological and historical analysis of Haitian Vodou, not only as a religious concept, but as an intersectional and multifaceted cultural element and marker of Haitian life.

The short course can be taken as a standalone course or as part of the Foundation Certificate in Black Political Thought and Culture.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this short course, students are expected to understand:

  1. The central beliefs and practices in Haitian Vodou including an understanding of the history of the religion;
  2. The role of Vodou and its religious leaders in revolution and political agitation including the role Vodou has played in shaping Haitian national identity;
  3. How Vodou has been treated in legislation throughout the country’s history;
  4. How Vodou has been depicted in cinema and visual culture, with a particular focus on the role of Hollywood in shaping global discourses on the religion;
  5. How various leaders have sought to re-legitimise the religion.



Apeike Umolu is the founder of the African History Project. She is an educator and historian with over 15 years of experience supporting students in the attainment of academic excellence. Specialising in African history, she is a passionate historian and has undertaken historical studies at the University of Oxford. She researches extensively on West African political history and is working on her first book On Black Consciousness.


Course Outline

  1. Historical and Theological Foundations of Haitian Vodou
  2. Vodou and Early Haitian Revolutions
  3. Vodou Under Legislation – a Legal History of African Religion in the Americas
  4. Vodou Under American Occupation
  5. In Popular Consciousness – Denigrations and Depictions of Vodou in Western Cinema
  6. Legitimisation of Vodou Under Duvalier and Aristide

Couse Delivery and Assessment

This course is delivered through online learning via video lectures, coursework and seminars. The course should take 6 weeks to complete. Students work at their own pace and will have access to course materials for 6 weeks from enrolment. 

Students are also encouraged to attend any public lectures and seminars that take place in the School while they are enrolled.

The course is assessed by a 1000-word essay.


On successful completion of the course, participants will be issued with a Certificate of Completion and be eligible for an academic reference. 

Course Aims

The course aims to give students a robust understanding of the role of the Haitian religion in political life. It also aims to show how Haitian Vodou has been dealt with by the law and how political leaders have used it to shape the Haitian political landscape. Students will explore the political history of the religion to understand how it has endured and why it remains one of the world’s most talked about faiths. 


Course Title: Revolutionary Gospel, a Political History of Haitian Vodou

Department: Department of Black Political Thought and Culture

Duration: 6 weeks

Format: Online, Video Lectures, AHP Seminar Series

Assessment: 1000 word essay


Course Features

  • Lectures 6
  • Quizzes 0
  • Duration 6 Weeks
  • Skill level All levels
  • Language English
  • Participants 17
  • Resources Yes
This course is out of stock

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