By Elizabeth McAlister
15 b/w photos; encompasses a 24-track CD Rara is a colourful annual highway pageant in Haiti, while fans of the Afro-Creole faith known as Vodou march loudly into public area to take an energetic function in politics. operating deftly with hugely unique ethnographic fabric, Elizabeth McAlister indicates how Rara bands harness the facility of Vodou spirits and the lately lifeless to broadcast coded issues of view with old, gendered, and transnational dimensions.
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Extra info for Rara!: Vodou, Power, and Performance in Haiti and Its Diaspora
To accomplish this, our team had to forge alliances with “big men” who had inverters, generators, or electric power. Wealthy Vodou societies, hotels, and, ironically, supportive Catholic missions became pit-stops as we walked and danced with the Raras. Another challenge of recording Rara has to do with its constant movement and its parading form. While the colonel is in front leading with whistle and whip, the drums, banbou, metal horns, and percussion (scrapers, bells, and so on) walk in battalion-like waves, one group after the other, followed by the chorus.
Digital audiotape (DAT) recorders had just come on the mass market in the early 1990s, but they were too expensive for my research budget. Reagon recommended that I purchase a portable Marantz cassette recorder and a good stereo microphone. 27 There turned out to be a distinct advantage in using cassettes: Rara members had cassette players, so I could distribute copies of my recordings to them. Often this was unnecessary, however, because the vast majority of bands I worked with also made their own recordings on their own boum boks (boom boxes).
A tiny elite, the descendants of the colonial mulattoes, enfranchised itself with full economic and political power, and these families continue to hold power in Haiti. 11 The rich history of Haiti is far too complex to capture here and has been the subject of much prejudiced treatment. But the general statement can be made that the Haitian poor majority has been peze souse (squeezed and sucked) by the economic elite through inequitable trade practices and tax burdens, without beneﬁt of political enfranchisement.
Rara!: Vodou, Power, and Performance in Haiti and Its Diaspora by Elizabeth McAlister