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Mama Lola: A Vodou Priestess in Brooklyn (Comparative Studies in Religion and Society) Paperback – 22 Nov 2001
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"I know of no other work about Vodou that can teach the uninitiated so fully what it means to know: how unassuming, contingent and matter-of-fact real konesans (understanding) must be." - Joan Dayan, Women's Review of Books "This volume is superb: a poignant account of a Haitian migrant to New York and how she appropriates and reworks her family knowledge of healing and ritual.... Gently informed by her own life and by women's anthropology, Brown offers a sympathetic and vivid portrait of the lives of a group of women." - Roland Littlewood, Political and Social Science "Novelistic chapters, beautifully written, are alternated with a narrative of the present, including descriptions of the members of the Vodou pantheon and how Alourdes serves them.... She has written a life story that is full of feeling." - Constance Casey, Los Angeles Times "Brown's ethnographic short stories vividly capture the complicated personal history that is summed up in Mama Lola's full name and they also dramatize the larger social processes at work in Haiti's recent history.... Mama Lola provides an engaging, detailed, and sympathetic account of the world of Haitian Vodou. Brown has used a variety of interesting, and even daring, techniques to make that world come alive." - Eugene V. Gallagher, Journal of the American Academy of Religion
Karen McCarthy Brown's "Mama Lola" challenges stereotypes of Vodou by offering an intimate portrait of African-based religion in everyday life. She explores the importance of women's religious practices along with related themes of family and of social change. Weaving several of her own voices - analytic, descriptive and personal - with the voices of her subjects in alternate chapters of traditional ethnography and ethnographic fiction, Brown presents herself as a character in Mama Lola's world and allows the reader to evaluate her interactions there. Brown's work is an experiment in ethnography as a social art form rooted in human relationships. A new preface, epilogue, bibliography and a collection of family photographs tell the story of the effect of the book's publication on Mama Lola's life.See all Product description
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
I feel like this book has given me a much greater understanding of Voodoo and also ancestral worship. I understand how the spirits are often tied to the Catholic saints a lot better now, too. Most importantly, I can understand more of where the 'magick' comes from, what to look for when I see a Voodoo altar, or see glimpses of spirit possession in media. Before it was very foreign to me. I only knew it as a magical belief system, but the book describes magical thinking that's pervasive and very family oriented that I had not considered to be so very relevant before.
There's something about the way the author writes that let me take off my moral judgements so that I could better connect with the stories and beliefs- It was always easy to see the people through the magickal trappings, sayings, and various rituals.
It's a good read. I'd recommend it to anyone that is new to the subject, that wants to learn more about Voodoo as it is practiced by Haitian natives.
It is a paperback, but it's a bit large; about the size of most hardbacks.
Dr. Brown makes this amazing woman and her family come alive on the page.
Alourdes is all at once a devout woman, devoted mother, petulent and powerful woman. Her family is at once inspiring and beverage out your nose funny.
By the end of this edition, I found myself not only falling in love with Alourdes family, but with the spirits they so loyally serve.
A terrfic book if you want to understand what Vodou means to it's followers, what life is like for immigrant women and the pride and strength that comes from growing up in the poorest country in the Western hemisphere.