Accepted paper:

Vodun face the uncertainty of society

Authors:

Alessandra Brivio (Università Milano-Bicocca)

Paper short abstract:

The aim of this paper is to question how vodun people in Benin are today responding to the more and more uncertain and deconstructed society they are living in. Between the many vodun order, Mamy Wata and the vodun Tron better respond to the worshippers’ demands for modernity and success.

Paper long abstract:

The aim of this paper is to question how vodun people in Benin are today responding to the more and more uncertain and complex society they are living in. Two are the vodun orders I would like to analyse because of their success in present day: Mamy Wata and the Tron (or gorovodu). Mamy Wata helps people, and especially women, negotiate an economical and social position in the society. Indeed, Mamy Wata is the vodu of richness and success, but also of witchcraft, prostitution and commodification. The Tron is supposed to be a modern vodun, able to provide simple and quick answers to his adepts, without asking for complete adherence to the order The first point is to show the contrasting meanings of modernity underlined by this two vodun orders, a contradictory modernity that seems always ready to betraying expectations: the Tron gives more freedom to his adepts but it leaves them more alone in front of deities. Mami Wata helps women in succeeding in their life, compelling them to negotiate a social status that can easily fall under the accusation of witchcraft. The second point is to question history to explain the development of such vodun orders and their present success, remembering that vodun are the mirror of the historical transformations of society

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Dealing with doubts, putting to test: the importance of uncertainty in vernacular religion