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Abstract

In this essay, I demonstrate that morality is culture-specific and contextual. To illustrate this point, I focus on Vodou, a religion that has been almost entirely misrepresented in the West, foremost because of its African origins, and that is perceived as having no legitimate basis for morality. I attempt to interpret morality in Vodou by presenting a model of ethics construction based on the true meaning of the religion rather than on the exotica of its myths and ritualizing. My analysis is based on the fact that Haitians seem to have turned to their ancestral religion and to their African past to survive isolation and ostracism from the West — consistently using the Vodou religion as a tool of both resistance and continuity. In that respect, Vodou is a microcosm that reflects a reconstructed form of the traditional African world view and the moral values inherent to it.

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