Project Title: Of Spirits, Slaves, and Sea: An Ethnography of Vodou in West Africa

Faculty Sponsor: Christian Vannier

Department: Africana Studies

Telephone: 810.762.3353


Project Description: This project is currently in its final phase: preparation of the final book manuscript. The data collection phase occurred in summer 2013 in southern Togo, West Africa. Analysis took place between Fall 2013 and Winter 2014 and the book manuscript has been in preparation from Summer 2014 to Fall 2015.

The book is an ethnographic account of vodu religious practices among the Ewe ethnic group in southern Togo. In particular, vodu is contextualized into a greater economic and political defined by increased globalization and modernization. Ceremonial life plays a key theme of the book and many different vodu ceremonies are detailed and analyzed. The book concluded that the conditioned relationships individuals and groups form with vodu gods define who these gods are and how they are brought into existential being. As the needs and aspirations of people change, so do the inherent nature of the gods. Thus, studying the gods is an excellent way to study social change in a place and time (i.e., millennial West Africa) that is undergoing massive changes.

Student Tasks & Responsibilities:  The book is in its final phase and I have received an invitation to submit from Brill Publishing in Amsterdam. Though a reputable and excellent academic publishing house, one drawback of Brill is they provide no copy editing services. Hence, I am looking for a student to copy edit the manuscript and provide feedback regarding writing style and formatting.

Minimum Student Qualifications: Excellent grasp of written English, preferably knowledge of Chicago 16th manual of style formatting.