The Vodou Archive : Curating and sharing the sources of Vodou religion and culture ( UF Enhancing the Humanities Grant P...


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The Vodou Archive : Curating and sharing the sources of Vodou religion and culture ( UF Enhancing the Humanities Grant Proposal )
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Hebblethwaite, Benjamin
Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere, University of Florida
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Gainesville, FL
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Grant proposal for successful grant, awarded for the Humanities Scholarship Enhancement Fund for 2011-2012 from the Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere, within the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at the University of Florida.

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2 The Vodou Archive: Curating and sharing the sources of Vodou religion and culture Benjamin Hebblethwaite Introduction and goals This project seeks to improve the understanding of a central Haitian and Haitian American spiritual tradition by gathering the audiovisual and textual sources of Vodou communities, by interpreting what we collect, and by diffusing the knowledge via an open access website The project is part of a long tradition of scholarly work stretching back to the early 20 th century that has sought to counter reductionist and racist visions of the religion through ethnography, analysis of visual culture and music, and an exploration of Vodou and history Such work has turned to the cen tral texts in Haitian Vodou: i t s Creole language songs. Vodou Songs in Haitian Creole and English this project focuses on making that knowledge available in Haitian Creole and English along with substantial interpretative scholarly apparatuses. The Vodou Archive will be the first extensive multimedia digital library to deliver a diversity of Vodouist perspectives and compleme nt them with rich scholarly exegesis that situates the source materials in their national and international historical and cultural context. In the English speaking world, Vodou sources are underserved and emerging areas of research. This project is launch ing an e library that will fill major gaps in knowledge about the religion and se rve as a springboard for research. This proposal is one of three seeking support for the Vodou Archive. I n Septe mber, 2011, we (Hebblethwaite and Dubois) submitted a related proposal to the ACLS Collaborative Fellowship comp etition and in December, 2011, we will apply to the NEH Collabor ative Research Grant The Humaniti es Scholarship Enhancement Fund will strengthen those ap plications because it will allo w us to assemble an impressive foundation to attract funding What is Vodou and where does it come from? Vodou is the hereditary spiritual tradition of African descendants in Haiti (Jil and Jil 2009). Until the mid twentieth century, when scholars and prac titioners began writing down songs, Vodou was transmitted orally from elders to children and from priests to initiates. Vodou, or serving the lwa (spiritual beings and forces), is a religion, philosophy, culture, and way of life that mainly comes from two major regions in Africa: Dahomey and the Kongo. Dahomey was a large African kingdom and empire that lasted until 1892 and included parts of the countries currently known as Ghana, Togo, Nigeria, and Benin, the seat of its power. Dahomian ethnolinguistic groups were the most numerous populations in the early colonial period of Saint Domingue (c. 1680 1750; Bellegarde Smith 2006). The second major influence came from the Kongo, which supplied the majority of slaves in the late colonial period (c. 1750 1791) (Bl ier 1995:83; Jil and Jil 2009:199; Rigaud 1953: 26). Vodou songs and traditions are important historical records in their preservation of many African historical (i.e. Bosou Ach ade ) religious ( Legba Danbala ), cultural (i.e. lwa ounsi ason oungan ), and geographical (i.e. Rada Savalou Boumba ) terms. Although African influences are fundamental and tangible in Vodou, they are creolized or blended into a coherent Haitian religi ous and cultural system ( Brand 2000:15; Michel 2006:30; Monsia 2003; Rouget 1991, 2001 ). This system is one among a series of such religions within the Atlantic perimeter places like coastal West Africa, Bahia, Brazil, Haiti, Florida, and New York where th ere are diverse groups that inherited, maintain, or adopted African religions and philosophies (Murrell 2010: 1). Vodou songs are a testament to the tenacity and creativity of the ancestors who taught and practiced these ancient traditions in the dreadful conditions of Saint Domingue.


3 Foci o f the Vodou Archive All of the materials to be edited and curated by this project are of major literary, historical, cultural, and religious significance. The oral and textual corpora of songs are the authentic and living traditions of the Vodou religion. They are primarily the songs that are sung in the context of Vodou worship in public and domestic ceremonies and they constitute the sacred literature of the religion. Vodou songs address the myth ologies and characteristics of the lwa, and they describe their relations with humans. Vodou songs are also time capsules that reveal the history and origins of the Haitian people in Africa, their journey to the Americas in the French slave trade, and thei r lives in the French colony. Due to their sacred nature, they are very well preserved records of African colonial, and Haitian history. Vodou song texts comprise the largest corpus of Haitian Creole literature in existence. As they intertwine with Haiti an culture, identity, and history, they are a key resource for anyone interested in studying, teaching, and understanding Haiti. Vodou songs are also the best preserved repository of African cultural memory in Haiti and hence they are of great importance t o the academic disciplines of religion Haitian Caribbean and Latin American studies African and Haitian Diaspora studies, linguistics, ethnomusicology, history, literature, and anthropology. While some songs, particularly those associated with initiati on, are not shared outside the religion, the majority of them are sung in open ceremonies, often recorded and distribut ed by practitioners themselves and a number of them have formed the basis for forms of Haitian popular music. One can also view clips of Vodou ceremonies on YouTube, but little of the material is translated or explained and the viewer is left with no guidance or context Our g oal is to offer access to audio visual and textual material in access to and compre hension of Vodou by means of a rich multimedia corpus. The open access website will ensure the flow of knowledge to a broad public. The social scientists who want to discover, quantify, aggregate, and disseminate evidence on Vodou. T he rich body of sources will ensure that the search functions provide robust evidence. The result will be a website that allows deeper analysis across more disparate sets of data than hitherto available. The construction and curation of Vodou sources provi de s a platform for further research. One of the long term research projects is the preparation of a Vodou dictionary by means of the corpora assembled in the Vodou Archive. The need for empirical work on Vodou sources Anyone familiar with Haiti understan ds the profound importance and rootedness of the religion within the broader culture. And yet Vodou is still subject to extremely negative and stereotypical representations. Ignorance and negative ideas about Vodou are not only costly for practitioners the mselves. They also undermine efforts on the part of scholars, development experts, and foreign organizations to understand contemporary Haiti and develop effective and sustainable community based projects. One reason Vodou is easily victimized is because very little Vodou sacred literature or commentary about it is available. From a c omparative point of view research and exegesis on Christianity, Islam, or Judaism are literally founded upon the study of the New Testament, the Koran, and the Hebrew Scriptu res While several Creole language and Creole and French language volumes have been published ( Roumain 1943; Marcelin 1950 & b; Rigaud 1953; Beauvoir 2008a & b; and Jil & Jil 2009 ), efforts to make a sizeable portion of the sources of Vodou available in En glish have been scant with the exception of the out of print Courlander (1939; 1960), the out of print Laguerre (1980), and Lomax (2009) The collection, transcription,


4 subtitling, translation, and interpretation of digital sources are prerequisites for serious research on Vodou traditions in the English language world ( Olupona & Rey 2008). T he Vodou Archive will provide the resources needed for serious study: all texts and audiovisual recordings will be presented bilingually and include extensive comment ary in English ( click here for examples of the presentation of texts in the Vodou Archive ). Hebblethwaite (2011) strives to be a standard and multidisciplinary publication on Vodou sources in additi on to being a tool for the study of the Haitian Creole language and culture. Yet it only taps into a small portion of the massive corpus of Vodou songs and only in a textual format. A remarkable array of printed, recorded, filmed, and photographed source m aterials remains unavailable to researchers and readers. The multimedia corpus assembled in the Vodou Archives, therefore, will represent a significant expansion in terms of the possibilities for analysis and understanding of the religion. It will highligh t the striking audiovisual dimensions of Vodou and provide access to texts in multiple genres, sound recordings, films, photographs (with commentary ) and critical apparatuses, all of which are crucial for grasping the context and meaning of Vodou songs and worship. The materials to be curated are divided into three types: Audiovisua l sources that will be transcribed, translated, subtitled, and explicated Textual Sources available as facsimile, updated modernizations, and translations Critical apparatuses such as commentary, exegesis, etymology, etc., available in English This project builds on long term research carried out by Hebblethwaite, and will involve both the presentation of materials he has al ready collected and the collection of new materials. This proposal will create the best possible platform for archiving and sharing the materials. It will also represent the foundation for a larger project that will include a wider network of participants who will continue expanding the archive and the preparation of a Vodou dictionary. Methods of data collection and treatment Hebblethwaite and a Research Assistant will travel to Vodou ceremonies in Miami and they will record them with handheld digital audio recorde rs in addition to video cameras (IRB approval pending). One problem with existing sound recordings made in Vodou temples is the failure of researchers to position multiple microphones (mics) in various places. Existing field recordings (by Deren, Boulton, Courlander, and Hebblethwaite) suffer from the use of a single mic and, lacking mixing capabilities, powerful dru mming adds gain and distortion to the recordings, making transcription of the lyrics challenging. We will re cord ceremonies by means of a sound board so that the drum volumes can be controlled in the recording process. In order to be as unobtrusive as poss ible, the team will use directional wireless mics that transmit to wireless receivers. Noise cancelling headphones will allow us to accurately set the volume levels on the sound board. We will double check our transcriptions with choir members and we will elicit a cappella versions of Vodou songs to facilitate transcription. After the fieldwork, the collected data will be transcribed, translated, and contextualized via annotations on computers. Final Cut Pro software will be used for video editing and su btitling. Sound files will be archived as high quality WAV files. They will be available online along with MP3 versions to support access even if bandwidth is limited. The text files will appear as page images, searchable text, and PDFs for a variety of us er needs. All materials are freely accessible to the public during and after the project. Finally, t he UF Digital Library Center (DLC) has already worked extensively with Hebblethwaite and will provide long term support to the Vodou Archive website.


5 Five whether successful or not, and any publications resulting from awards received : Competition Date submitted Successful or not Publications NEH Collaborative Grant (Hebblethwaite, P.I., Dubo is, co P.I.) To be submitted December 8, 2011 Pending Vodou Songs in Haitian Creole and English (Temple U. Press, 2011) ACLS Collaborative Fellowship (Hebblethwaite, P.I., Dubois, co P.I.) September 28, 2011 Pending Vodou Songs in Haitian Creole and Eng lish (Temple U. Press, 2011) International Research and Studies Program, Department of Education: The production of beginning and intermediate advanced learning materials for Haitian Creole. (Albert Valdman P.I., Hebblethwaite, co P.I. ) March, 2011 After Albert Valdman and I submitted this grant proposal, the Department of Education cut Title VI funding in 2011 and announced that no new proposals would receive consideration Center for European Studies Course Development Grant: La linguistique de la cha nson franaise February, 2011 Declined Florida Medical Malpractice Joint Underwriting Association Wears, Bob and Benjamin Hebblethwaite, co PIs. Beyond Babel: Safer Care for Floridians with Limited English July, 2009 Declined Humanities and the Public Sphere April, 2009 $1774.73 for library book purchases NA International Research and Studies Program: An Intermediate Haitian Creole March, 2009 Declined


6 Textbook, CD ROM and Web Site of Meaningful Dialogues, Activities and Culture Notes (Hebblethwai te, P.I.) American Studies Course Development grant: Introduction to Haitian Vodou January, 2009 $3,500 Vodou Songs in Haitian Creole and English (Temple U. Press, 2011) NSF Linguistics: Bilingualism, Biliteracy and Code Switching among American Second Generation (Hebblethwaite, P.I.) December, 2008 Declined The Humanities Scholarship Enhancement Fund: The Haitian Creole Scrabble Project: Expanding the Tools of Literacy in Haiti November, 2008 $11,924 (1) Hebblethwaite, Benjamin. 2009. Scrabble as a Tool for Haitian Creole Literacy: Sociolinguistic and Orthographic Foundations. Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages 24.2.275 305 (2) The UF Scrabble Glossary will soon be submitted to Educa Vision (3) This YouTube video ( click here ) also shows our work in Haiti on this project Partner University Fund: The Haitian Creole Scrabble Project: Expanding the Tools of Literacy in Haiti December, 2008 Declined UF International February, 2008 $3,000


7 Center: Internationalizing the Curriculum (travel and research in Guadeloupe)


8 Bibliographic references Beauvoir, Max G 2008a. Lapriy Ginen Port au Prince: Edisyon Prs Nasyonal d Ayiti. 2008b. Le Grand Recueil Sacr ou Rpertoire des Chansons du Vodou Hatien Port au Prince: Edisyon Prs Nasyonal d Ayiti. Bellegarde Smith, The Case Vodou in Haitian Life and Culture: Invisible Powers ed. Claudine Michel and Patrick Bellegarde Smith, 101 115. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Sacred Arts of Haitian Vodou ed. Donald J. Consentino, 61 87. Los Angeles: Fowler Museum of Cultural History, University of California, Los Angeles. Brand, Roger. 2000. Ethnographie et vocabulaire religieux des cultes vodoun Munich: Lincom Europa. Courlander, Harold. 1939 1940. Unpublished manuscript. Special Collections Library: University of Michigan. 1960. The Drum and the Hoe: Life and Lore of the Haitian People Berkeley: University of California Press. Deren, Maya. 1953. Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti New York: Book Collectors Society. Jil, Dyeri M. and Ivwoz S. Jil. 2009. Svis Ginen: Rasin, rityl, resp lan Vodou Davi, Florida: Bookmanlit. Laguerre, Michel. 1980. Voodoo Heritage Beverly Hills: Sage Publications. Lomax, Alan, Elizabeth Lyttleton, Revolie Polinice, Ellen Harold, H. P. Davis, and Gage Averill. 2009. The Haiti recordings San Francisco, CA: Harte Recordings. Marcelin, Milo. 19 50. Mythologie Vodou (Rite Arada), Volume I & II. Ptionville: ditions Canap Vert. Michel, Claudine and Patrick Bellegarde Smith, eds. 2006. Vodou in Haitian life and culture: invisible powers. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Monsia, Marc. 2003. Religi ons indignes et savoir endogne au Bnin Cotonou, Benin: Les ditions du Flamboyant. Murrell, Nathaniel Samuel. 2010. Afro Caribbean Religions: An Introduction to Their Historical, Cultural, and Sacred Traditions Philadelphia: Temple University Pres s. Olupona, Jacob and Terry Rey (eds.). 2008. of Yorb religious culture Madison: the University of Wisconsin Press. Rigaud, Milo. 1953. La tradition voudoo et le voudoo hatien: son temple, ses mystres, sa magie Paris: ditions Niclaus. Rouget, Gilbert. 1991 [1980]. La musique et la transe Paris: Gallimard. 2001. Initiatique vdoun, images du rituel: Chants et danses initiatiques pour le culte des vdoun au Bnin. Saint Maur, France: ditions Spia. Roumain, Jacques. 1943 [2007]. Le sacrifice du tambour Asst(r) Port au Prince: ditions


9 2011 2012 Humanities Scholarship Enhancement Fund Budget Page A. SALARIES AND WAGES (list all individuals separately) Name Position FTE Start/End Date Amount Hebblethwaite Assistant Professor .76 July 1 August 15, 2012 $4460 Undergraduate OPS Research Assistant $10 hourly (200 hours) May 2012 August 2012 $2000 B. FRINGE BENEFITS 26.9% Salaried personnel $1226.64 2.6% non student OPS personnel _____________ 8.3% Graduate Assistant Fringe _____________ TOTAL SALARY $___________ C. TUITION____________ (for graduate students) D. EQUIPMENT 4 VocoPro VHF 3300 Wireless Microphone System (2 mics) for $296; 1 Yamaha Stereo Mixer for $99 ; 4 tripods for $76; one used camcorder for $351; Tlex Suite lexicographical software for $380 ( Subtotal: $1202 ) MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES F. TRAVEL (be specific) Travel from Gainesville to 7 different ceremonies in Miami (Car rental + fuel, 14 days x $60 = $840) Food & lodging in Miami (14 days x $10 0 = $1,680) ( Subtotal: $2,520 ) G. OTHER DIRECT COSTS (itemize)


10 TOTAL REQUEST $11,408 .64 Estimated Minimum Support Level for a Viable Research Effort $9,408 **Total amount not to exceed $12,000


11 2011 2012 Humanities Scholarship Enhancement Fund Budget Item Justification Personnel The salaries compensate Hebblethwaite and one undergraduate research assistant for the work they carry out recording Vodou ceremonies and inteviews, selecting highlights from the recordings, editing, transcribing, translating, and subtitling the material s and developing commentary about them. Equipment The audi ovisual recording equipment (i.e. the wireless microphones, the stereo mixer, and the tripods and the camcorder ) is essential for the fieldwork proposed herein and, to my knowl edge, unavailable for rental at UF. UF libraries have flip cameras that can be checked out; however, they are low quality camcorders. The UF Digital Library Center has an excellent sound recorder I can use. The lexicographic software is going to be used to gene rate word lists from our Haitian Creole Vodou corpora; this software allows for the efficient preparation of a dictionar y. Vodou lexicology and lexicography are long term project s related to the expansion of the Vodou Archive. Materials and Supplies -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Travel I will travel to 7 Vodou ceremonies ove r the course of the summer. The car rental plus fuel at $60 daily is for Miami Gainesville travel Since Vodou ceremonies are periodic following a fixed calendar, it makes the most sense to go on 7 different two night trips. The food and lodging at $120 daily is normal for a city like Miami.


12 Other Direct Costs -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


13 BENJAMIN HEBBLETHWAITE, hebble@uf Office: 352 273 3762 / Home: 352 373 4912 Assistant Professor in Haitian Creole, Haitian and Francophone Studies Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures University of Florida 301 Pugh Hall PO Box 115565 Gainesville, FL 32611 5565 PEER REVIEWED BOOKS 2011. Vodou Songs in Haitian Creole and English Philadelphia: Temple University Press. 2010. Edited with Jacques Pierre. Une saison en enfer / Yon sezon matchyavl Bilingual rose poem including a critical introduction in Haitian PEER REVIEWED PUBLISHED & FORTHCOMING ARTICLES Forthcoming in 2012. Hebblethwaite, Benjamin. French and underdevelopment, Haitian Creole and development: Languag e policy problems and solutions in Haiti. Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages Forthcoming in 2012. Hebblethwaite, Benjamin and Michel Weber. Le problme de : le crole hatien et la langue Dialogues et cultures 2011. Haiti Earthquake, 2010. In Encyclopedia of Disaster Relief Ed. by K. Bradley Penuel, Matthew Statler and J. Geoffrey Golson. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. 2010. Adverb Code English Second Generation. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition 13 (4), 2010, 409 428. anglais de la 2 me gnration Miami bilingue. Cahiers de Linguistique 34.2.103 126. 2009. Scrabble as a Tool for Haitian Creole Literacy: Sociolinguistic and Orthographic Foundations. Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages 24.2.275 305. 2006. Sociolinguistic Aspects of Haitian Creole in South Florida: The Causes of the Failure to Develop the Natural Asset of Biliteracy Florida Foreign Language Journal 3.1.52 59. 2002. The Universality of Morpho Syntax: Synthetic Compounding in French, English, Dutch and Korean. The Journal of Universal Language 3.2.1 29. 2001. The Unfolding of the Preposition and Affix de in Latin, Gallo Romance, French and Haitian Creole. Revue roumaine de linguistique 46.45 68. PEER REVIEWED BOOK CHAPTERS 1999. The Geo Socio Linguistics of Haitian Creole: the Diaspora. Semiotics 1999 ed. by Simpkins, S., Spinks, C.W., Deely, J, 454 473. New York: Peter Lang. PEER REVIEWED COLLE CTIVE PUBLICATIONS


14 2008. Principle Haitian Creole content developer. Haitian Creole Express CD ROM Washington, D.C.: Foreign Service Institute. 2007. Editorial assistant. Haitian Creole English Bil ingual Dictionary Project director, Albert Valdman. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Creole Institute. UNREFEREED PUBLICATIONS 2005. Edited and introduced with Jacques Pierre. The Gospel of Thomas in English, Haitian Creole and French Gainesville: Classic Editions. 2001. Translated in collaboration with Jacques Pierre. Pyebwa frenn nan Translation of Le Fraisne, into Haitian Creole. Bloomington: Edisyon Klasik. PENDING AND DEVELOPING GRANT PROPOSALS ACLS Collaborative Fellowship and the NEH Collaborative Research Grant, The Vodou Archive: Curating and sharing the sources of Vodou religion and culture Valdman, Albert & Benjamin Hebblethwaite, co PIs. The production of beginning and intermediate advanced learning materials for Haitian Creole. In progress. SELECTED CONFERENCE PAPERS 2/2011. Social Movement Governance, the Poor and the New Politics of the Americas, University of South Florida. French vs Language Policy and the Underlying Causes of Poverty or Progress 11/2010. Haitian Studies Association 22, Brown University. Linguistic Methodologies of Vodou Songs and Texts in Haitian Creole and English. 1 0/2010. Atlantic World Literacies, University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Minority language school systems for majority language speakers: French second language and Haitian Creole first language in Haitian education 11/2009. Duke University. Vodou S ongs and Texts in Haitian Creole and English: The Source Text Approach to the Study of Religion and Culture Invited lecture. 11/2009. Haitian Studies Association 21, Bloomington, Indiana. Haitian Creole and Haitian Studies among Second Generation Universi ty Students. 7/2009. International Symposium on Bilingualism 7, Utrecht. Bidirectionality and Asymmetry in the Miami Haitian Creole English Bilingual Corpus 2/2008. British Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies Conference, Georgia Southern University. L inguistic Neocolonialism: Canon and Curriculum in Haitian Creole Post Colonialism.