The Power of the Dead

Spirits, Socialism, and Selves in an Afro-Cuban Universe

Authors

  • Diana Espirito Santo University College London

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/firn.v3i2.161

Keywords:

Afro-Cuban religion, Cuban socialism, personhood, Special Period, spiritism

Abstract

This paper aims to conceptualize the relationship between the main Afro-Cuban religious practices and the experience of varied social and economic difficulties in Havana, and in particular, the role of the dead—the muertos—in its articulation. I argue that the dead are not just to be seen as socio-historical idioms or representations but as constitutive elements of a Cuban religious personhood, which must be discerned, acknowledged and objectified through one’s actions in the world. Achieving harmony in relation to oneself with one’s environment at any given moment thus requires a theory of self, and in the ritually and cosmologically fluid Afro-Cuban religious sphere this is most effectively given by the spirit mediumship cult of espiritismo cruzado.

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Author Biography

Diana Espirito Santo, University College London

I did my BSc in Philosophy and Psychology at the London School of Economics, and am now finishing a PhD in anthropology at University College London. My interests are spirit possession, anthropology of the self or person, and cognition.

References

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Published

2010-01-15

How to Cite

Espirito Santo, D. (2010). The Power of the Dead: Spirits, Socialism, and Selves in an Afro-Cuban Universe. Fieldwork in Religion, 3(2), 161–177. https://doi.org/10.1558/firn.v3i2.161

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Articles