In popular culture, voodoo is all about zombies and witchcraft and dolls with needles stuck into them.
But where some see a religion with African origins, or simply black magic, Nicolas Vonarx sees a structured system of medicine, a way of treating illnesses as worthy of respect as any other.
Vonarx explores this idea in Le vodou haïtien : Entre médecine, magie et religion, a work that won him the Prix du Canada en sciences socials 2013 for a French-language work.
“Medicine, magic and religion – those three words are very important when it comes to understanding Haitian voodoo,” says Vonarx. “This book stresses the first word: medicine.”
Trained as a public health practitioner, Vonarx came to know Haiti, its people and its culture, while working...