This article explores Zora Neale Hurston's role in promoting the study of African-derived religions such as Haitian Vodou and New Orleans Hoodoo through her literary works. An anthropologist by trade and an author by choice, Hurston assumed the roles of observer, initiate, and participant as she absorbed the lore and customs associated with these African-derived religious practices from devotees in Haiti and New Orleans. Hurston's “Sweat” (1926) and Jonah's Gourd Vine (1933) serve as two distinct case studies illustrating Hurston's use of African-derived religions in her literary offerings. In this article I respond to the following questions: What are the African-derived religious practices Zora Neale Hurston portrays in her works? How does she reflect these practices in “Sweat” and Jonah's Gourd Vine? In what ways do Hurston's works promote the study of African-derived religious practices?

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