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Vodun in Coastal Benin
Unfinished, Open-Ended, Global

Author(s): Dana Rush

Centered on the former slaving port of Ouidah, Benin, Dana Rush's research extends through Togo to Ghana, a region where exchanges of histories, ideas, and belief systems are given material forms. This is a land where Shango, Jesus, and the Buddha are all gods of Vodun; where Hindu and Vodun deities co-exist in symbiosis; where the spirits of people enslaved 150 years ago are paid tribute by the children of their long-lost masters; and where Haitian, Brazilian, and Cuban images, artists, and spirits remain relevant to contemporary West African practices.

The book is richly illustrated with color photographs of Vodun shrines, temple wall paintings, masquerades, and Hindu chromolithographs.

This book is the first publication in a new series called "Critical Investigations of the African Diaspora." The series grows out of Issues in Critical Investigation, a Vanderbilt initiative to assist junior scholars through critical feedback from senior faculty, annual symposia, and prize competitions in the humanities and social sciences. Dana Rush's Vodun in Coastal Benin is the winner of the inaugural Anna Julia Cooper Prize in the Humanities.

Biography of Author(s)

Dana Rush is a Research Fellow at the University of Strasbourg Institute for Advanced Study and a Visiting Senior Fellow at the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research at the University of Amsterdam.


  • "Anthropologists, art historians, folklorists, religious scholars, and Africanists should all find this book a valuable addition to their libraries."
    Nova Religio
  • "Highly recommended."
  • "With her description and critical analyses of Vodun, Dana Rush reveals the art and philosophy of a religious culture that has become the dominant aesthetic for the Black Atlantic world, from Ouidah to Port-au-Prince to South Central L.A. Rush's book will become a standard reference on Vodun/Vodou/Voodoo."
    Donald Consentino, Professor, World Arts and Cultures, UCLA, and Curator, "In Extremis: Death and Life in 21st Century Haitian Art"
  • "Rush constructs an elegant and convincing theoretical framework . . . supported by extensive ethnographic work in multiple sites. A rich and nuanced contribution to the literature on global Vodun in all its manifestations—from India to Brazil and the Caribbean, along with insights into slavery and its meanings in the Atlantic world—this book will be of great interest to students and practitioners of African-derived religions in Africa, the Caribbean, South America, and even North America. In this work Rush paradoxically moves us closer to understanding that which, she argues compellingly, cannot be understood."
    Edna G. Bay, Professor of Interdisciplinary and African Studies, Emory University, and author of Asen, Ancestors, and Vodun: Tracing Change in African Art