Ethics & Aesthetics: Vodou’s Commitment to Activism and Change
Colloquium XIII, Congress of Santa Barbara (KOSANBA)
September 19-21, 2019
Occurring under the aegis of Milokan (the assembly of the lwa), and dedicated to the late scholars, writers, activists, and educators Rachel Beauvoir-Dominique and Florence Bellande-Robertson. Co-sponsored by the Forum for Scholars and Publics and the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at Duke University.
About the 2019 Colloquium
The Thirteenth Colloquium of the Congress of Santa Barbara (KOSANBA) will examine Vodou’s transformative potential through the lens of ethics and aesthetics. Our use of these two branches of philosophy, however, ventures beyond reflection and into the realm of social change. Under the aegis of, and in the spirit of Milokan (the assembly of the lwa in all 21 nations), the Colloquium calls on presenters from various disciplines and all African-derived spiritual practices of Africa and the African Diaspora—Vodou and Vodun, Ifá-Orisa, Burkinabé traditions, Akan traditions, Santería and Lukumí, Candomblé, Umbanda, Hoodoo and Conjure, and many others. The 2019 Colloquium will additionally honor the lives and legacies of two elders who have passed to the other side but who continue to live with us in spirit: Rachel Beauvoir-Dominique and Florence Bellande-Robertson.
This year’s Colloquium explores the ethical and artistic powers of Vodou and other Africana religions on a global level in the interest of social change. Similar to its many sister traditions, Vodou serves not simply as a spiritual practice, but also as a philosophy, a cultural orientation, and an ethical code of being in the world. In this age of globalization and digital connectivity, we seek to explore what the transmission of sacred knowledge will entail. As scholar-practitioners become more involved in the co-creation of knowledge, how do we determine the parameters of which knowledge can be shared with the public, either in personal exchanges or in online communities? In the interest of institution building, how might we envision Africana religions playing a key role in educating the next generation in the classroom, the temple, and the home? In view of the vibrant legacies of African and African Diasporic visual and performance traditions, we wish to investigate the changing roles of the artist as ritual makers and religious participants, considering how priests and priestesses serve as both art commissioners and creators.
We ask: what are the ethics of aesthetics in collecting, caring for, researching, and exhibiting/performing sacred art forms in private homes and public spaces?