Date of Award

Spring 5-2019

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis



First Advisor

Matthew Casey

Advisor Department



Voodoo transitioned from a religion that caused its practitioners to be criminalized and apprehended by the state to a lure used to entice visitors to the Crescent City. This thesis attemtps to show how the public perception of Voodoo shifted in the late nineteenth-century from a hidden threat to a public novelty. I explain this shift through analyzing New Orleans guidebooks, newspapers, and court cases at the turn of the twentieth-century. This thesis fills the gap in the scholarship pertaining to the twentieth-century. I achieve this by drawing upon more extensive literature on the oppression of African-derived religions in other decades, such as the 1850s in New Orleans, and other locations, such as Latin America and the Caribbean. Because of its association with African Americans, Voodoo was deemed a purely black superstition and a form of primitivism. Yet, it was feared for being the exact opposite–a powerful tool used by workers to invert prevailing social hierarchies of southern Jim Crow segregation.