African Vodun: Art, Psychology, and Power / Edition 2

Paperback (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $22.83
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 56%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (13) from $22.83   
  • New (5) from $50.60   
  • Used (8) from $22.83   


In this first major study of its kind, Suzanne Preston Blier examines the artworks of the contemporary vodun cultures of southern Benin and Togo in West Africa as well as the related vodou traditions of Haiti, New Orleans, and historic Salem, Massachusetts. Comprised of beads, bones, rags, straw, leather, pottery, fur, feathers, and blood, and often tightly bound with cords, vodun artworks yield a wide range of insights into the provocative workings of emotional expression, power, and artistic representation. The power of these objects, which can be either figural sculptures, [actual symbol not reproducible], or nonfigural works known as bo, lies not only in their aesthetic, and counteraesthetic, appeal but also in their psychological and emotional effect. As objects of fury and force, these works are intended to protect and empower people and cultures that, in both precolonial and postcolonial periods, have long lived in threat of war, enslavement, disease, malnutrition, and violent death. Blier employs a variety of theoretically sophisticated psychological, anthropological, and art historical approaches to explore the contrasts inherent in the vodun arts - commoners versus royalty, popular versus elite, "low" art versus "high." She examines the relation between art and the slave trade, the psychological dynamics of artistic expression, the significance of the body in sculptural expression, and indigenous perceptions of the psyche and its corollaries in art. Throughout, Blier pushes African art history to a new height of cultural awareness that recognizes the complexity of traditional African societies as it acknowledges the role of social power in shaping aesthetics and meaning generally. This book will be of critical importance not only to those concerned with African, African American, and Caribbean art, but also to anthropologists, scholars of the African diaspora, students of comparative religion and comparative psychology, and anyone fascinated by the tr
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Blier (African art and architecture, Harvard U.) examines the artworks of contemporary vodou cultures of southern Benin and Togo in West Africa and related traditions of Haiti, New Orleans, and historic Salem, Massachusetts. She employs psychological, anthropological, and art historical approaches to explore the contrasts inherent in vodun arts, and examines the relation between art and the slave trade, the significance of the body in sculpture, and indigenous perceptions of the psyche. Includes color and b&w photos. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226058603
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/1996
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 486
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Linguistic Note
Introduction: Ties that Bind: The Psychology and Power of Art 1
1 Vodun Art, Social History, and the Slave Trade 23
2 Audiences, Artists, and Sculptural Activators 55
3 Design in Desire: Transference and the Arts of [actual symbol not reproducible] 95
4 Bodies and Being: Anatomy, Anamnesis, and Representation 133
5 The I and Not-I in Artistic Expressions of the Self 171
6 Alchemy and Art: Matter, Mind, and Sculptural Meaning 205
7 Surface Parergon and the Arts of Suturing 239
8 The Force of Genre: Sculptural Tension and Typology 271
9 Power, Art, and the Mysteries of Rule 315
Conclusions, Concomitants, and Comparisons 347
Appendix: Collections and Stylistic Features 355
Sources 361
Notes 363
Bibliography 433
Index 463
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)