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Film still from Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti, 1979, 16mm | Filmed by Maya Deren in Haiti, 1947-1951, Edited by Teiji and Cherel Ito | © Tavia Ito / Re:Voir. Courtesy of Re:Voir
Hubert Fichte’s fascination with (African and African American) trance practices was ambivalent: On the one hand, he saw trance as a form of psychotherapy and part of a “resistant” system of the psyche that allowed African Americans to survive slavery. For him, Voodoo was the driving force of the Haitian Revolution and still contained the promise of a future non-Western, non-Marxist revolutionary movement. On the other hands, Fichte more than once criticized Afro-diasporic trance practices as a form of “brainwashing”. Is his criticism a mere reflection of the widespread feeling of other-directedness in a totalitarian, capitalist structure of manipulation, which plagued the post-war generation in Germany? What does it mean when ethnological research in the 1970s externalizes and dissociates trance practices of “others” from a (collective) Western subject?
Rosa Eidelpes is a writer, literary scholar and cultural theorist. More information...