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Keywords:

  • Orisa Religion;
  • Vodun cults;
  • initiation rituals;
  • transnational religious practices;
  • Benin

A noteworthy presence of Whites within Beninese, inner Vodun circles dates form the beginning of the 1990s, in correspondence with the democratic transition and the development of the local tourism industry. While this phenomenon by itself can be considered marginal, it brings up new issues, challenging both Vodun specialists and anthropologists to reconsider the modes of religion's reproduction in times of globalization. The inclusion of Whites into Vodun practice - and the consequent adjustment and tailoring of rituals that it requires - illustrates the constant process of transformation and reinvention of a traditional African religion by showing how culturally portable practices, locally produced and internationally exported, permeate people's everyday life, shaping subjectivities and understanding of the world. Addressing both issues of identity construction and cultural consumption, intimate, spiritual journeys of self-transformation of White initiates question how images of Africa are constructed and how Vodun rituals transform and renovate over time and space.