“Roots / Routes / Rasin: Rural Vodou and the Sacred Tree as Metaphor for the Multiplicity of Styles in Mizik Rasin and Folkloric Dance in Haiti and the Diaspora.” In Vodou in the Haitian Experience: A Black Atlantic Perspective, edited by Dr. Celucien L. Joseph and Nixon S. Cleophat, 13-34. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2016.

Religious practitioners relate to and interact with sacred landscapes in rural Haitian Vodou – the trees, for instance, holding central importance at Souvnans, the annual weeklong Vodou ceremony celebrating the roots and routes of the multiplicity of cultures and interactions of bodies that make up Haitian Vodou. I am particularly interested in discussing the symbolism of the tree, which holds sacred power within Vodou in general, plays a central role at Souvnans in particular, and contains metaphor and meaning to elucidate Haitian folkloric dance and mizik rasin aesthetics. Social theorist Paul Gilroy explores the relationship between roots and rootedness that is often at play in discussing African diaspora culture and the concept of routes implying the movement of culture and its exchanges, visible within this site-specific ritual. In addition, I invoke performance studies scholar Joseph Roach’s analysis of ritual performance to explore the symbolism of the tree as metaphor for the embodiment of collective mystical, historical, and cultural movement and memory at Souvnans. Many rasin members and folkloric performance artists make the pilgrimages to rural Vodou ceremonies such as Souvnans to connect with the sense of rootedness, authenticity, and African origins for personal spiritual means as well as a political move to embrace Africanness thereby resisting the elitist and colonial trappings of the European tradition. At Souvnans the roots of the tree are important to place, identity, community, tradition, and national and ethnic pride. But there cannot be roots without routes through which the multiplicity of meaning, memory, and identity are constituted, audible, and visible in the musical and stylistic blendings of mizik rasin and the multiple choreographic tactics of folkloric dance in the diaspora.


The Geography Teacher special issue titled “The Cultural Legacies of Slavery in Virginia” co-written and -organized with Dr. Johnny Finn. This special issue stems from a series of workshops funded by the Virginia Geographic Alliance that we organized in Spring 2014, and includes three peer-reviewed articles and three peer-reviewed lesson plans. In addition to the two of us, among the authors are four CNU MAT graduates, one current CNU psychology major, and six k12 teachers from around the state. Vol. 12, Issue 4, (Routledge, 2015). The three essays include: 

In these papers we report on two Virginia Geographic Alliance-sponsored workshops that we designed and carried out during the spring semester of 2014. The central objective of these workshops was to bring pre-service education students in Virginia together with social studies teachers from around the state for a series of interdisciplinary workshops that focused on the cultural legacy and lasting impacts of slavery in Virginia. Specifically, we were interested in engaging with educators and future educators in a way that addressed the spatiality of race and American racial history. To those ends, we designed and carried out two weekend institutes for two different (but partially overlapping) groups of approximately 40 participants each. Each workshop was led by one of the project directors, Ann E. Mazzocca and Johnny C. Finn, and each had a different but complementary focus. The first workshop took place in Richmond, VA, and explored Africanist aesthetic legacies in contemporary culture and performance. In this workshop we were specifically interested in pursuing the intersecting terrain of cultural geography and the arts, especially through dance and music. That is, with a fundamentally interdisciplinary approach, in this workshop we aimed to bring the analytical lens of cultural geography together with the embodiment of culture, history, and forced migration as felt and experienced through dance and music. The second workshop based in Newport News, Virginia focused specifically on racialized and racializing cultural landscapes in the region. The goals of this second workshop were relatively simple: to get teachers and future teachers from around the state to think about, to study, to see, and to engage with how race and the history of race in the U.S. plays out in the cultural landscape, both in extraordinary places (e.g. the landscapes of Colonial Williamsburg) but also in ordinary, everyday places, the teachers’ and their students’ own backyards. 


Forthcoming

  • "Embodiment, Reciprocity, and Reception: Shakespeare Adaptations in a Black Atlantic Context," co-authored with Denise Gillman forthcoming in the Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare and Dance edited by Lynsey McCulloch and Brandon Shaw.
  • "Forging Lakou in the Gran Rue: A Polyphonic Reflection on a Collaborative Performance in Port-au-Prince," Dasha A. Chapman, with Yonel Charles, Jean-Sebastien Duvilaire, and Ann E. Mazzocca forthcoming in Women and Performance: a journal of feminist theory.