Conflict and Cooperation / Notes / Archive by category "Travels"
Research Niklas Wolf 2022 Nkyinkyim

Research Niklas Wolf 2022 Nkyinkyim

While Western curators still use the very specific and mostly misused term „Voodoo“ — a term that often “is fraught with racist categories about black religious practice […]” (Desmangles 2012: 26) — to frame the multitude of spiritual practices, networks and epistemologies of Vodun, artistic and academic research starts to highlight the many meanings of Vodun in a globalized world. Contemporary institutions of displaying African spiritual and knowledge systems, like the Nkyinkyim Museum in Ada (Ghana), founded by artist Kwame Akoto-Bamfo, are rewriting those narratives, opening up international spaces between the sacred and the secular, leaving terminological and functional restrictions of the museum as well as the ones of a shrine behind.

Desmangles, Leslie G. “Replacing the Term ‚Voodoo’ with ‚Vodou’. A Proposal”, Journal of Haitian Studies, vol. 18, no. 2, 2012, 26–33. Web.

image: Nsiso or Nsodie (Akan), portrait-like memorial heads at the Nkyinkyim Museum. © Niklas Wolf 2022

Research Niklas Wolf 2022

Research Niklas Wolf 2022

Back at the desk, back at home, reflecting on the many conditions of traveling, of seeing and being seen, the research, privileges, questions and time spent waiting in-between as well as the many conundrums (Landry 2019, 25) involved with such a journey. 

Sites visited in Ghana are among others the Mamishie Rasta shrine in Dzita (Volta), led by Mami Wata priestess Mamishie Rasta, and Hunua Adoglos shrine in Volta (both of them publicly displaying visualisations of Vodun), the Afrikan Magick Temple in Accra (led by Christopher Voncujovi, publicly educating on Vodun, using social media and the catch-phrase ReVodution), and the Nkyinkyim Museum in Ada, combining aspects of a shrine and a museum, addressing local and global communities. 

In Benin the Foret Sacree de Kpasse Ouidah (a museum and shrine, site for tourists and initiates at the same time), Daagbo Hounon Houna II, king of Vodun as well as the Mami Wata shrine at the Door of no Return were visited. 

Traveling was accompanied by reading on the conundrums other researchers starting off as outsiders to the imagery and spirituality of Vodun have faced, and reflecting on their ways to dealing with the many questions rising: Landry, Timothy R.: Vodún. Secrecy and the Search for Divine Power, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019 (Print). 

image: shrine next to the Door of No Return (Mami Wata), Ouidah. © Niklas Wolf 2022