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Religion and Healing in America$
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Linda L. Barnes and Susan S. Sered

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195167962

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195167962.001.0001

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Making Wanga: Reality Constructions and the Magical Manipulation of Power

Making Wanga: Reality Constructions and the Magical Manipulation of Power

(p.173) 10: Making Wanga: Reality Constructions and the Magical Manipulation of Power
Religion and Healing in America

Karen McCarthy Brown

Oxford University Press

The demonstration for Abner Louima in 1997 in New York City marked a new stage in the growing involvement of Haitians in local politics. Many protest signs blamed Mayor Rudolph Giuliani for what happened to Louima, a victim of police brutality. Issues of secrecy, especially the malevolent kind, are overdetermined in relation to anything that has to do with Haiti, a country and culture that, in the eyes of white America, is virtually synonymous with black magic. The dense, racially charged images that public personalities and journalists called up so effortlessly in commentary on the cases of Louima and Amadou Diallo, who was shot and killed by New York City police, are representations constructed “in the shadow of the fetish”. Like the charms Haitian Vodou priestess and healer Mama Lola made to help Louima, they are wanga.

Keywords:   Abner Louima, Amadou Diallo, New York City, Haitians, police brutality, black magic, Vodou, wanga, fetish

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