Derby: “The Gender of the Spell: Explaining Demonic Animal Narratives on the Haitian-Dominican Frontier”

Thursday, November 29, 2012
4 pm
Comm 120

Derby (University of California, Los Angeles) analyzes narratives about the baca–a guardian angel or spirit demon that appears as an animal–from Haiti and the Dominican Republic. She compares and contrasts rural Dominican and urban Haitian tales about these creatures which appear as dogs, cattle, boars, or turkeys. Contrary to literature which presumes that Haitian and Dominican religious ideologies are dialectically opposed (Vodou-Catholic), she argues that these tales are more structurally similar than different, and constitute a single genre, even if gender and sin are emplotted somewhat differently in the tales collected here. Derby seeks to explain the fact that in the rural border the stories are primarily about male protagonist heroism vis-a-vis a supernatural foe, while in Port au Prince after the 2010 earthquake they fueled gendered violence as women were stoned to death on the grounds that they had become turkeys and snatched babies in the dead of night. Derby’s research draws upon oral histories collected in the central Haitian and Dominican frontier, as well as Port-au-Prince, Haiti, from 2008-2011.

Robin Derby Flyer

3 thoughts on “Derby: “The Gender of the Spell: Explaining Demonic Animal Narratives on the Haitian-Dominican Frontier”

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