By Diana Espírito Santo
“The such a lot provocative and entire portrayal of latest Cuban espiritismo on hand. It underscores the embodied personality of espiritista practices and gives a dynamic portrayal of espiritista mediums’ an important roles inside of a fancy of Afro-Cuban religions that comes with ocha, palo monte, and different faiths.”—Reinaldo L. Román, writer of Governing Spirits: faith, Miracles, and Spectacles in Cuba and Puerto Rico, 1898–1956
“To learn this e-book is to go into into an it seems that alien international and but locate that it makes whole experience, and hence Developing the Dead is a version of the anthropological enterprise.”—Charles Stewart, writer of Dreaming and old cognizance in Island Greece
according to huge fieldwork between espiritistas and their buyers in Havana, this booklet makes the astonishing declare that Spiritist practices are essentially a undertaking of constructing the self.
whilst mediums domesticate relationships among the residing and the lifeless, argues Diana Espírito Santo, they strengthen, examine, feel, dream, and attach to a number of spirits (muertos), increasing the borders of the self. This figuring out of selfhood is notably diverse from Enlightenment rules of an self reliant, bounded self and holds attention-grabbing implications for prophecy, therapeutic, and self-consciousness. Developing the useless shows how Espiritismo’s self-making strategy permeates all points of existence, not just for its personal practitioners but additionally for these of alternative Afro-Cuban religions.
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Additional resources for Developing the Dead: Mediumship and Selfhood in Cuban Espiritismo
Spiritists were poised to plug into a crucial, and hitherto inaccessible, layer of beings, the Afro-Cuban ritual and family dead, the eggún or the nfumbe, and to become indispensable in their veneration. Indeed, this indispensability is so pronounced today that Jorge and Isabel Castellanos venture to assert that the spiritist rite par excellence, the misa espiritual [spiritual mass], a ceremony whereby the dead are invoked and possess the living in prayers and song, “is never celebrated in Cuba if not as an integral part of an Afro-Cuban rite” (1992, 195, my translation).
In 1959 there was one priest per 8,810 people in Cuba; in 1998, one per 39,145, whereas the inverse trend is noted for doctors (Bolívar and Orozco 1998, 459). Afro-Cuban religious expression was restricted by imposing limitations on nonstate associations and gatherings of any kind, subjecting ceremonies and drum festivities to forcible disruptions and dissolving most formerly institutionalized spiritist centers. While relations with the church thawed in the 1980s (Sarduy and Stubbs 1993), an unprecedented visit by Pope John Paul II to Cuba in 1998 was seen as the consolidation of the arrival of a new era.
Bronfman 2004; Wirtz 2009)—and of the experience of years of careful religious occultation. When, in 1991, the Communist Party made the milestone decision to accept religious believers, followed by a new constitution in 1992, it encompassed the tacit recognition that religiosos had increased despite the Revolution’s having portrayed syncretic Spirits at the Crossroads of Belief and Pragmatism · 23 religions as a burden of an irrational and uncivilized past (Sarduy and Stubbs 1993, 10). The Afro-Cuban religious “market” had thrived in its own way under the pressure of forced obscurity, producing, moreover, underground informal economies and subsistence networks that arguably rivaled more visible ones.