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 whole self-discipline of anthropology in fresh years.”—Stephan Palmié, writer of The Cooking of historical past: How to not learn Afro-Cuban Religion
“The so much provocative and whole portrayal of up to date Cuban espiritismo to be had. It underscores the embodied personality of espiritista practices and gives a dynamic portrayal of espiritista mediums’ an 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 appears alien international and but locate that it makes entire experience, and therefore Developing the Dead is a version of the anthropological enterprise.”—Charles Stewart, writer of Dreaming and historic realization in Island Greece
in accordance with huge fieldwork between espiritistas and their buyers in Havana, this booklet makes the extraordinary declare that Spiritist practices are essentially a venture of constructing the self.
whilst mediums domesticate relationships among the residing and the lifeless, argues Diana Espírito Santo, they improve, examine, feel, dream, and attach to a number of spirits (muertos), increasing the borders of the self. This realizing of selfhood is notably assorted from Enlightenment principles of an independent, bounded self and holds attention-grabbing implications for prophecy, therapeutic, and self-consciousness. Developing the lifeless shows how Espiritismo’s self-making strategy permeates all elements of existence, not just for its personal practitioners but in addition for these of different Afro-Cuban religions.

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Furthermore, they are pragmatists for, much like William James (2000), espiritistas believe that religious belief can bring into existence that which is the object of belief. There is a commitment to the ontological effects of doing and acting among espiritistas in relation to the existence of spirits that resonates with James’ claim that truth becomes so through the process of its verifying itself as such (2000, 88). ” The “social processes” by which espiritistas develop as mediums are distributed not just through time and space, via the historicity of their spirits as well as their own, but ontologically, by comprising realms of existence that are unconfined to physical bodies.

Contact with the foreign “other” accelerated and accentuated AfroCuban religious proliferation for two main reasons: Firstly, Cuba would now be under greater international scrutiny, arguably foregrounding the absence of certain liberties; and secondly, political investment in a cultural and economic “opening” brought unexpected dividends. More relaxed policies on remittances from Cubans abroad meant that more conspicuous and lavish ceremonies could take place; meanwhile, ordinary tourism expanded into the religious cult houses, acting as a primary catalyst of contemporary religious revival in the public sphere.

Thus, for Mead, as for others (see Goffman 1959; Hallowell 1955), the self is not so much a substance as a process in which a set of orientations has been internalized within organic and psychological form. For these authors, social others mirror parts of the self to itself. Espiritistas are certainly “interactionist” in the sense that they, too, sustain that the identification and sanctioning of their spirits is usually the prerogative of others, since it is also a process extended through time and circumstance in which a building of trust in such encounters becomes key; the things that people make, make people in turn (Miller 1987, 2005): in this case, people peopled by spirits.

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