Developing the Dead: Mediumship and Selfhood in Cuban by Diana Espírito Santo

By Diana Espírito Santo

“A significant empirical contribution to the controversy approximately antirepresentationalism and posthumanism that has been agitating the total self-discipline of anthropology in contemporary years.”—Stephan Palmié, writer of The Cooking of heritage: How to not research Afro-Cuban Religion
 
“The such a lot provocative and entire portrayal of latest Cuban espiritismo to be had. It underscores the embodied personality of espiritista practices and gives a dynamic portrayal of espiritista mediums’ the most important roles inside a posh of Afro-Cuban religions that incorporates 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 publication is to go into into an it seems that alien international and but locate that it makes whole experience, and accordingly Developing the Dead is a version of the anthropological enterprise.”—Charles Stewart, writer of Dreaming and historic attention in Island Greece
 
in response to wide fieldwork between espiritistas and their consumers in Havana, this ebook makes the outstanding declare that Spiritist practices are essentially a undertaking of constructing the self.
           
whilst mediums domesticate relationships among the dwelling and the useless, argues Diana Espírito Santo, they increase, examine, feel, dream, and fasten to a number of spirits (muertos), increasing the borders of the self. This knowing of selfhood is significantly assorted from Enlightenment principles of an independent, bounded self and holds interesting implications for prophecy, therapeutic, and self-consciousness. Developing the lifeless shows how Espiritismo’s self-making technique permeates all facets of existence, not just for its personal practitioners but additionally for these of alternative Afro-Cuban religions.

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The other three categories are more ambiguous: espiritismo de mesa or científico [table or scientific spiritism]; espiritismo de caridad [charity spiritism]; and espiritismo cruzado. Bermudez suggests that members of the sect known as espiritismo de mesa or científico follow the work of Allan Kardec, founder of European spiritism and do not consider themselves ritualists as their practice consists in performing certain invocations around a table before falling into a trance. While this description bears some resemblance to a few of the spiritist groups with whom I worked in Havana in that they do not consider themselves ritualists and they associate their practice with scientific Spirits at the Crossroads of Belief and Pragmatism · 35 thought, other elements, such as following the beliefs of spiritism’s founder, are in fact widespread.

Other liberalizing measures included allowing for limited private enterprise, seen, for example, in the establishment of the casas particulares, whereby people could now apply for licenses to rent out one or two rooms in their own homes; the paladares, home-run restaurants with a small number of tables catering to Cubans and later foreigners; and the agromercados, openair markets where farmers could now sell their surplus at a limited margin of profit. Most significantly, Castro opened up his country to tourism, including international joint ventures and partnerships, somberly informing citizens that he had been left with no other choice.

Those Cubans who mingled were regularly harassed and even jailed. But this separation was ultimately hard to maintain. To the millions of visitors to Cuba every year were added those of exchange programs, cultural and academic ventures, and religious and initiatory tourism. Open to the world for the first time since 1959, the Revolution’s austere segregation measures, and its authority, began to crack. Access to dollars and to foreigners became socially divisive and often racially determined questions.

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