Voodoo in New Orleans: The Identity of a City and the Reality of Her Religion

Lea Michelle Griffin

           When walking down the busiest streets in New Orleans, the word Voodoo can be seen everywhere. Voodoo is in the name of drugstores, bars, and even dishes in restaurants. Voodoo as a religion has been in existence in New Orleans for hundreds of years. However, Voodoo as a commodity of the city has developed more recently. This belief system not only serves many locals, but is also sold to many visitors to the city. Tourism is a reproduction of the concepts of a particular aspect of history or culture based on the perception of a group or groups. As is the case with most reproductions, tourist attractions are not exact replicas but rather interpretations of the events or cultures in question. This study examines how closely related these reproductions are to the original. Through the testimonials of both locals and tourists, the author illustrates the relationship between the visitors and practitioners, in order to illustrate the ambiguous line between imitative and authentic Voodoo. Even those who have practiced for years find it difficult to define the difference between real and inauthentic. Ultimately, Voodoo belongs to the locals. It is a characteristic that helps define the city itself and gives New Orleanians a way to identify with the city in which they live.