Creole Religions of the Caribbean

An Introduction from Vodou and Santeria to Obeah and Espiritismo, Second Edition

324 pages

25 illustrations

July, 2011

ISBN: 9780814762288



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Margarite Fernández Olmos is a professor of Spanish and Latin American literatures at Brooklyn College, City University of New York. She is the author/coeditor of many books, including The Latino Reader: An American Literary Tradition from 1542 to the Present.

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All books by Joseph M. Murphy

Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert is a Professor in the Department of Hispanic Studies on the Randolph Distinguished Professor Chair and Director of the Environmental Studies Program at Vassar College. She is the author of a number of books and is coeditor with Fernández Olmos of Healing Cultures: Art and Religion as Curative Practices in the Caribbean and its Diaspora.

All books by Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert

Creolization—the coming together of diverse beliefs and practices to form new beliefs and practices—is one of the most significant phenomena in Caribbean religious history. Brought together in the crucible of the sugar plantation, Caribbean peoples drew on the variants of Christianity brought by European colonizers, as well as on African religious and healing traditions and the remnants of Amerindian practices, to fashion new systems of belief.

Creole Religions of the Caribbean offers a comprehensive introduction to the syncretic religions that have developed in the region. From Vodou, Santeria, Regla de Palo, the Abakua Secret Society, and Obeah to Quimbois and Espiritismo, the volume traces the historical–cultural origins of the major Creole religions, as well as the newer traditions such as Pocomania and Rastafarianism. This second edition updates the scholarship on the religions themselves and also expands the regional considerations of the Diaspora to the U. S. Latino community who are influenced by Creole spiritual practices. Fernandez Olmos and Paravisini–Gebert also take into account the increased significance of material culture—art, music, literature—and healing practices influenced by Creole religions.


  • “Fernández Olmos and Paravisini-Gebert write with evident expertise, keen to uphold our understandings of how the major Creole spiritualities—everything from Vodou to Rastafari—have always dynamically adapted to change to ensure their survival and flourishing. This second edition is, in short, an extraordinarily rich work for scholars and students alike; it is certain to become the field’s standard text.”

    —Darren J. N. Middleton, Texas Christian University

  • “Brings to life the living and lively religious traditions of Caribbean peoples. This new edition offers to scholars and students of Caribbean religions and cultures an illuminating introduction to religious continuity, change, and creativity in the Caribbean region in the past 500 years, especially among the Afro-Caribbean population.”

    —Ennis B. Edmonds, Kenyon College

  • “Offers a unique perspective on Caribbean religions and provides well-reasoned explanations for the diverse ways in which African religious traditions were adapted to a new cultural milieu in the diaspora…. A brilliant book and a significant contribution to the literature on Caribbean religions. In short, it leaves no stone unturned.”

    —Leslie Desmangles, Trinity College

  • "This text successfully dispels the misrepresentations and negative stereotypes societies throughout history have placed on these religions. The authors provide a great deal of research and analysis that is sure to aid both scholars and enthusiasts."

    Journal of Folklore Research

  • "Creole Religions of the Caribbean is a very effective and sympathetic study of the Caribbean religions, and it provides this story in a more accessible way than other publications."


  • "Creole Religions of the Caribbean is a welcome contribution to contemporary religion."

    —Jack David Eller, Anthropology Review Database