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Flash of the Spiritby Robert Farris Thompson
Synopses & Reviews
Over a lifetime of studying Cuban Santería and other religions related to Orisha worship—a practice also found among the Yoruba in West Africa—Stephan Palmié has grown progressively uneasy with the assumptions inherent in the very term Afro-Cuban religion. In The Cooking of History he provides a comprehensive analysis of these assumptions, in the process offering an incisive critique both of the anthropology of religion and of scholarship on the cultural history of the Afro-Atlantic World.
Understood largely through its rituals and ceremonies, Santería and related religions have been a challenge for anthropologists to link to a hypothetical African past. But, Palmié argues, precisely by relying on the notion of an aboriginal African past, and by claiming to authenticate these religions via their findings, anthropologists—some of whom have converted to these religions—have exerted considerable influence upon contemporary practices. Critiquing widespread and damaging simplifications that posit religious practices as stable and self-contained, Palmié calls for a drastic new approach that properly situates cultural origins within the complex social environments and scholarly fields in which they are investigated.
This landmark book shows how five African civilization have informed and are reflected in the aesthetic, social and metaphysical traditions of black people in the United States, Cuba, Haiti, Trinidad, Mexico, Brazil, and other places in the New World.
About the Author
Stephan Palmié is professor of anthropology at the University of Chicago. He is the author of Wizards and Scientists: Explorations in Afro-Cuban Modernity and Tradition.
Table of Contents
1. Black Saints Go Marching In: Yoruba Art and Culture in the Americas
2. The Sign of the Four Moments of the Sun: Kongo Art and Religion in the Americas
3. The Rara of the Universe: Vodun Religion and Art in Haiti
4. Round Houses and Rhythmized Textiles: Mande-Related Art and Architecture in the Americas
5. Emblems of Prowess: Ejagham Art and Writing in Two Worlds
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