An Ethnography of a Vodu Shrine in Southern Togo

Of Spirit, Slave and Sea


In this book, Eric Montgomery and Christian Vannier provide an ethnographically informed text on the cultural meanings and practices surrounding the gods and metaphysics of Vodu, as they relate to daily life in an ethnic Ewe fishing community on the coast of southern Togo. The authors approach this spirit possession and medicinal order through “shrine ethnography,” understanding shrines as parts of sacred landscapes that are ecological, economic, political, and social. Giving voice to practitioners and situating shrines and Vodu itself into the history and political economy of the region make this text pertinent to the social changes and global relevance of Millennial Africa.

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Biographical Note

Eric Montgomery, Ph.D. (2006), Wayne State University, is Adjunct Professor of Anthropology and Peace and Conflict Studies at Wayne State and Central Michigan University. He co-produced and directed two ethnographic films, and many articles in anthropology, including Syncretism in Africa and Latin America ( Journal of Religion and Society, 2016).

Christian Vannier, Ph.D. (2007), Wayne State University, is a Lecturer of Anthropology and Africana Studies at University of Michigan-Flint. He has published numerous articles on Afro-Atlantic culture and co-edited Cultures of Doing Good: Anthropologists and NGOs (2017).

Review Quotes

"Through their extensive engagement with vodu shrine priests, devotees, and villagers, anthropologists Montgomery (Wayne State Univ.) and Vannier (Univ. of Michigan-Flint) clarify the interconnected ritual economy of Gbedala, in which dedication to particular vodu deities is a source of both spiritual and material benefits."

E. P. Renne, University of Michigan, CHOICE, Vol. 54 No. 12


All interested in West Africa and the anthropology of religion, and anyone concerned with Africana culture, “Voodoo”, slavery, history, ritual, performance, and globalization.


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