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In Memoriam: Katherine Hagedorn, Divine utterances: The performance of Afro-Cuban santería (2001)

Cultural production, daily life, music, Religion, Tales from the field No Comments »


Hagedorn cover  As many scholars of contemporary Cuba have learned to their shock and grief, we have recently lost one of our dearest colleagues, Katherine Hagedorn.  While a more comprehensive memorial to her life and work is available here, suffice it to say that Katherine was not only a creative, honest, and insightful scholar, but also an extraordinarily generous being, and we are left much diminished by her absence and with deepest sympathies for her family.  Having recently re-read her book as my own personal memorial to Katherine, I remembered all over how delightful it was to read in the first place, and how many of her insights rang true ethnographically even to someone not particularly well versed in either ethnomusicology or Cuban religious practices.  With that in mind, I write this post to recommend that you either take the time to read, or re-read, this rich text, Divine utterances: The performance of Afro-Cuban santería.  It will, I promise, be time well spent.



New book: Carlos Aldama’s Life in Batá by Umi Vaughan and Carlos Aldama, Indiana University Press

History, music, new book, Religion, traditions and folklore No Comments »
UPDATE: It is a pleasure to announce that Carlos Aldama’s Life in Batá: Cuba, Diaspora, and the Drum, by anthropologist Umi Vaughan and Carlos Aldama, is now available from Indiana University Press, in both paper and hardback.  It seems that there may also be a significant discount available, so in a nice change, this may actually be affordable!  As always, please feel free to send comments and reviews, and congratulations to Umi!

From the publisher’s description:

Batá identifies both the two-headed, hourglass-shaped drum of the Yoruba people and the culture and style of drumming, singing, and dancing associated with it. This book recounts the life story of Carlos Aldama, one of the masters of the batá drum, and through that story traces the history of batá culture as it traveled from Africa to Cuba and then to the United States. For the enslaved Yoruba, batá rhythms helped sustain the religious and cultural practices of a people that had been torn from its roots. Aldama, as guardian of Afro-Cuban music and as a Santería priest, maintains the link with this tradition forged through his mentor Jesus Pérez (Oba Ilu), who was himself the connection to the preserved oral heritage of the older generation. By sharing his stories, Aldama and his student Umi Vaughan bring to light the techniques and principles of batá in all its aspects and document the tensions of maintaining a tradition between generations and worlds, old and new. The book includes rare photographs and access to downloadable audio tracks.


Music in the Hispanic Caribbean, by Robin Moore (2010)

Cultural production, Globalization, music, new book No Comments »

  In case you have missed it, Robin Moore has a new book exploring the music of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic.  Rather than focusing narrowly on a single island nation, the wider Caribbean focus is welcome, and as always, he writes elegantly and succinctly.  And the book includes a sleeve with full-length CD as well!  Music in the Hispanic Caribbean: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture, 2010, Oxford University Press.

Publisher’s description:

The Spanish-speaking islands of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic make up a relatively small region, but their musical and cultural traditions have had a dramatic, sweeping impact on the world. The first brief, stand-alone volume to explore the music of these three islands, Music in the Hispanic Caribbean provides a vibrant introduction to diverse musical styles including salsa, merengue, reggaeton, plena, Latin jazz, and the bolero.

Ethnomusicologist Robin Moore employs three themes in his survey of Hispanic Caribbean music:

  • The cultural legacy of the slave trade
  • The creolization of Caribbean musical styles
  • Diaspora, migration, and movement

Each theme lends itself to a discussion of the region’s traditional musical genres as well as its more contemporary forms. The author draws on his extensive regional fieldwork, offering accounts of local performances, interviews with key performers, and vivid illustrations.

A compelling, comprehensive review, Music in the Hispanic Caribbean is ideal for introductory undergraduate courses in world music or ethnomusicology and for upper-level courses on Caribbean and Latin American music and/or culture.

Packaged with a 70-minute CD containing musical examples, the text features numerous listening activities that actively engage students with the music. The companion website (www.oup.com/us/globalmusic) includes supplementary materials for instructors.

Chronicles of New York City Rumba (I)

By Berta Jottar, greater Cuba, music, traditions and folklore 10 Comments »

With this chronicle, EthnoCuba begins a new section, at the care of Berta Jottar, PhD

NYC: Sunday, February 13, 2011; 38 degrees, mostly cloudy.

Rumba is an Afro-Cuban performance culture characterized by its percussive music, dance and song; its main stylistic forms are the Columbia, the Yambú and the Guaguancó. Outside its native Cuba, New York City’s international metropolitan area is rumba’s second home with at least three rumbas open to the public every weekend.

This week, the rumba route begins on Friday, February 11th, at El Fogón Center for the Arts (point A on the map below); an alternative cultural center in the Bronx.

El Fogón’s rumba is ran by “Pupi” Felix Insua, former member of the mythical Cuban ensemble Yoruba Andabo, and current director of Oriki Omi Oddara. At El Fogón Victorian’ style room, the rumba has an international flair and is accompanied by good wine and friendly patrons. It is always a pleasure to see Pupi perform: he distills knowledge at both the kinesthetic and lyrical levels. El Fogón’s is not an open rumba, (a rumba where the amateur musician can seat and play the drum) but a rumba cerrá, a closed rumba where only those privileged musicians who know the rules of rumba and know that si no sabes, no te metas are allowed to participate. In Pupi’s rumba, you can hear the latest trends in rumba warapachanguera –the latest Havana style, both interpreted the Cuban way and recreated in pan Afro-Latino terms.

The Insua family, Pupi and his virtuoso songs (Stanley and Steve), share El Fogón’s stage mano a mano with local young New York City virtuosos, members of professional groups, like Caja Dura and Ilu Ayé, who are fluent not only in rumba, but in bomba and palo as well. Two new voices stand out: Yomara and Yadel; both young women who master the rumba columbia, the countryside style of Congo origin, rarely sung by women.

On Fridays, El Fogón becomes a rumba lab for hard-core rumber@s as well as for those wanting to learn. You know you are at a great rumba when you see Pupi tirar un pie… See the video below:

On Saturday, we continue our rumba journey to La Esquina Habanera in Union City, New Jersey (see point C on the map). Inaugurated by Tony Sequeira, a rafter who arrived to Union City with a vision and “plantó”; La Esquina is the corner where Afro-Cuban culture from both sides of the river meets. Read the rest of this entry »

The Black Roots of Salsa. A documentary film.

By Ariana Hernandez-Reguant, Cinema, music 17 Comments »

The Black Roots of Salsa is a new documentary on Cuba’s rumba life, currently in post-production. As you can see below, the preview is stunning, so I caught up with its director and Zürich native, Christian Liebich, and he kindly agreed to explain what his film is about and what his plans are….

AHR: I understand that this film has not yet been released. What is it about, exactly?

CL: The movie is about the Black Roots of Salsa and the Evolucion of Rumba. It covers not only the musical aspects of this heritage but also dancing and the lived experience. It shows a complex culture through the lens of certain families who live their tradition and inherit them through the generations. The film starts with the state of contemporary Rumba, as shown by young practitioners in Havana. It also covers some of the genre’s history in its three variants: Yambu, Guaguancó and Columbia. As a non-religious manifestation, Rumba was accessible to a broad audience. Nonetheless its roots are set inside Afro-Cuban religions imported from Africa, namely the Abakua, Congo and Yoruba, all of which are covered in the documentary.

The film also addresses the history of Son, which received the ‘Clave’ from the Rumba, as well as the influence of both son and rumba in timba. Most of the material is shot in Habana, but there are some takes from Yoruba Andabo’ shows in Paris, Geneva and Madrid. Rumba culture is not just lived in the streets, it’s presented in theatres in Cuba and abroad.

AHR: Is this a full-length documentary? is it finished? Do you have a distributor? what are your plans for it?

CL: The editing is finished and the film is over two hours long (2″7′). We still do not have any distributor. We have submitted it to the New York International Latino Film Festival, which will take place in August 2010, but at this time we still do not know if it will be selected. Our hope is to premier it in NYC, and then screen it at Film and Salsa festivals everywhere possible, and then release it on DVD.  Currently subtitles are available in English, Spanish and German, working on French, Italian and Japanese.

AHR: How did you become interested in rumba and what prompted you to do this documentary?

CL: I am a passionate Timba dancer and am fascinated by the complexity of Afro-Cuban culture. I was lucky to find very interesting characters like, mainly, Adonis Panter Calderon, who is producing the documentary with me.  We started working together in this film in 2004. I am married to Ismaray Chacon ‘Aspirina’ who is the granddaughter of Luis Chacon ‘Aspirina’ and is deeply connected with her culture.

AHR: Is this your first film?

CL: I started with a handy cam in 2004 in Cuba. In 2007 together with my good friend Virna Hernandez, we did a film about a kids’ project entitled “La Rumba No Va a Morir” about a music and dance group led by Adonis Panter Calderón’s cousin Natividad Calderon Fiallo. That DVD is now in process. I have a Youtube channel with over sixty short clips.

The film is still looking for funders. For more information, you may download the production’s portfolio HERE or contact Christian Liebich.

Anacaona’s Yolanda Castro and Graciela, RIP

By Ariana Hernandez-Reguant, By Berta Jottar, greater Cuba, music, obituary 5 Comments »

Within a couple of days, two lead members of the historical all-women Anacaona Orchestra have passed away: first Yolanda Castro, founding member of the band, who passed in Havana on April 4th, and then Graciela Pérez-Gutiérrez (also known as Graciela Grillo), two days later. Graciela had left Cuba in the early 40s and sang with Mario Bauza’s orchestra, becoming a fixture of the New York Latin music scene. Unlike Castro’s, Graciela’s obituary has been published all over the U.S. press, including the New York Times. You can read about Yolanda Castro’s passing on the Cuba-based Cubarte’s page.

Friend and colleague Berta Jottar interviewed Graciela in New York in 2003. along with her students of the course “Sound and Movement in the Afro-Latin Diaspora” (Williams College). I persuaded her to upload the videos and share them with us, and here they are:

(Thanks to Berta Jottar and David Cantrell for their assistance)

El Reggaeton Cubano (or Cubatón): Kola Loka

By Ariana Hernandez-Reguant, music 5 Comments »

Reggaeton is not just “urban music” (as now hybrids are called). In Cuba it’s also rural music. It has been around in Oriente for about fifteen years, partly thanks to the dancehall and merengue radio stations of Jamaica and Dominican Republic respectively. I remember when Candyman (from Santiago) played in Havana in the late 1990s for a public made out of Palestino immigrants.

One of my favorite contemporary groups is Cola Loca, a group originally from Santiago and Guántanamo.  They are natural-born guajiros (and cultivate the guajiro look). In improv controversias (over a reggaeton beat) they are invincible. Watch  HERE a reggaeton controversia, where Kola Loka’s Robinson comes up with a rhyming commentary on the rationing card regimen: “Esta es la ley de la nueva libreta / El que coge azúcar blanca / no coge azúcar prieta…. Esta es la ley de la nueva libreta / el que coge leche en polvo no coge la de dieta…”  Their lyrics tell stories and make fun of daily life. Those looking for the sophisticated polirhythm and chord progressions of timba music will not find it here, yet there are elements of son and changüí to be found in some of the tracks. (Debbie Pacini tells me that there are also background bachata guitar-based sonorities)

Below see videoclips for two of their recent hits. One depicts a generational clash, in a rural area of Oriente, between a conservative machete-bearing guajiro father and his teenage daughter (which ends up with the father “converting” to the new rhythm). The other one, La Estafa del Babalawo, mocks the commercialization of santeria and the babalawos who try to take advantage of their ahijados by charging outrageous sums (in kind) for their services. (sorry no subtitles)

NO ME DA MI GANA AMERICANA (I don’t feel like it)


* For more on reggaeton, see the edited volume by Rivera, Marshall and Pacini Hernandez, Reggaeton (Duke University Press 2009). It includes a piece on reggaeton in Cuba by Geoff Baker, an ethnomusicologist at the University of London.

Music Bridges to Cuba: Calle 13, reggaeton con clave

By Ariana Hernandez-Reguant, music 12 Comments »

Next Tuesday, the Puerto Rican band Calle 13 will be in Havana playing at the Tribuna Anti-Imperialista. They are often branded as reggaeton, but many of their tracks are a sort of ecclectic mix of styles that at times reminds of Manu Chao and other Latin hybrids. Although they follow on the footsteps of Juanes and other pop and rock bands that have gone to Cuba in recent times as part of a “music bridges” trend, the visits by Puerto Rican musicians have normally considered “something else” (de un pajaro dos alas, etc). Most notably, Fania All-Stars played there in 1979 as part of the famous Havana Jam (facilitated by the thaw of  the Carter administration). Then, however, Cuban youth were said to be more interested in Billy Joel and the Weather Report (also part of the festival) than in salsa, according to the New York Times

More recently, Cheo Feliciano played in Varadero (in 1997), and a project called De Aqui P’Allá and De Allá P’Acá attempted a musical exchange between the two “wings of the bird”  But I don’t recall anything as massive as what a Tribuna Anti-Imperialist concert promises to be; a type of super concert that has been mostly hijacked by Anglo-American rock and pop (and Juanes), genres that have come to enjoy a respectability in Cuba that Latin genres like reggaeton are still far from getting.

Today the “heavy” type of reggaeton is tremendously popular in Cuba, much to the dismay of the cultural authorities. In fact, prejudice against reggaeton runs high, not only in Cuba, among the bien pensante educated middle class but also in exile. Calle 13’s trip, while not provoking the massive opposition that Juanes did, has been criticized in exiled circles, particularly after the duo showed on national Spanish language TV their ignorance of the plight of Cuba’s political prisoners. Comments in blogs have put down reggaeton musicians (as Calle 13 are often considered as such) as ignorant, and mocked the music as a genre for the uneducated masses, in a way that is reminding of what  timba and, before, rumba, had to contend with. In Cuba, furthermore, reggaeton is often critiqued by the cultural intelligentsia as a commercial import that has nothing to do with the island’s musical heritage (son).

The fantastic documentary La Clave (2009) is built around the opposite thesis: that reggaeton (at least its Puerto Rican variant) is a direct product of salsa music, with its sophisticated clave and arrangements. A whole generation of reguetoneros -who are musicians of the new digital generation- are paying tribute to their salsero forebears, who are happy to collaborate with them, both in concert and in recordings. HERE is a segment of La Clave worth watching, with Andy Montañez and others showing the many points of encounter between reggaeton, bomba, and salsa.

Calle 13 come from the ecclectic Puerto Rican reggaeton tradition depicted in La Clave (they call it “urban music”). Not only they work, in most songs, over a clave base, but they also feature social and political lyrics very much like those in 1970s salsa. They call for pan-American solidarity, chronicle the plight of migrants, and highlight life in the barrio as their primary source of identity. The have recorded with a variety of Latin American musicians, including Rubén Blades, who they have branded as their maestro (see the video clip for their Grammy winning La Perla, which pays homage to the great Puerto Rican singer Ismael “Maelo” Rivera, who used to sing his “Guaguancó para La Perla”).

This is a video clip, corresponding to their 2007 song about Latin American migration to El Norte, which they performed at that year’s Grammy awards along with the Cuban group Orishas. The video clip is an anti-imperialist manifesto with an “anthropological” look. It also features a sort of pan-American geography that cuts from the Altiplano Boliviano to the US/Mexico Border without a pause. (I would call it “a post-modern geographical pastiche”)

Cuba Haiti: Musical Dialogues (II). Martha Jean-Claude

By Ariana Hernandez-Reguant, Cuba Haiti, Cultural production, music No Comments »

Martha Jean-Claude was a Haitian singer who moved to Cuba in 1952, fleeing persecution from the Magloire government. She married a Cuban, journalist Victor Mirabal, had four children with him, and developed a career in the Havana of the 1950s, appearing in radio, television and nightclubs. She joined the Revolution and continued to perform her brand of political song. She often toured internationally, including to war-torn Angola, on behalf of the Revolution and along with other Cuban musicians, always speaking up against the Duvalier regime.  She finally returned to Haiti in 1986, after the fall of Duvalier, and died in 2001 at the age of 83.

While in Cuba, she starred in Humberto Solás’ 1974 film Simparele, a 30 minute documentary re-enactment of Haitian history- which  Solás described in an interview with Julienne Burton (currently at UC-Santa Cruz), as an experimental and “interpretive documentary about the history of the people’s struggle in Haiti.” A good review of the film was published in Jump Cut in its december 1978 issue.

(If somebody has a copy of it or knows how to get one, please send it my way)

Here is the first minute of the film, which I found on Youtube.

Over the years, she performed with many Cuban musicians, like singer Celia Cruz (before the Revolution) and pianist Guillermo Rubalcava,  and shared the stage with many more, often Nueva Trova musicians like Noel Nicola, Sara Gonzalez and Pedro Luis Ferrer. In Cuba, she recorded several LPs, including:

1956 “Canciones de Haiti” (Songs of Haiti), GEMA. Havana, Cuba.

1969 “Canto Popular de Haiti” (EGREM- re-released in Mexico under license by Discos Pentagrama).  *[click here to download it].

1971 “Yo soy la cancion de Haiti” (I am Haiti’s song)

1972 “Martha canta a los niños” (Martha sings to the children). EGREM.

1975 “Agoe”, EGREM/Areito. Havana, Cuba

1993 “Mujer de dos islas” (Woman of two islands). SIBONEY, SANTIAGO.

But Martha Jean-Claude was not only a singer, but an accomplished composer. One of her most important compositions was in the repertoire of the Orquesta Aragon: C’est la vie mon cher (click on the title to hear part of it).

Here she is in 1952 in a duette with Celia Cruz (audio only): “Choucoune” (Haitian merengue)

(Thanks to Radio Cuba Canta for this link)

Cuba Haiti: Musical Dialogues (The Creole Choir, and more)

By Ariana Hernandez-Reguant, Cuba Haiti, music 1 Comment »

The Creole Choir of Cuba is based in Camaguey and made out of  ten musicians who, accompanied by light percussion, celebrate the history of Haitian descendants with a mix of songs in French, Creole and Spanish. Their first international CD was just released on Real World Records (a world music label based in Britain and owned by Peter  Gabriel). The choir was presented at the Edinburgh Festival last summer and received to great acclaim. A review in The Scotsman went as far as to compare them to the Soweto Gospel Choir for their “cathartical emotion, dynamics and sheer technical bravado.” Below see the video promo for the album:

To contrast this slick world music production with contemporary footage of Haitian merengue as played and danced in Camaguey, please visit  El Lugareño.


For a lot more on the musical relations between Haiti and Cuba, I recommend you listen to the extraordinary Afropop’s Hip Deep podcast THE FERTILE CRESCENT: HAITI, CUBA AND LOUISIANA, produced by Ned Sublette in 2005. Here’s the show’s description:

In 1809 the population of New Orleans doubled almost overnight because of French-speaking refugees from Cuba.  You read that right, French-speaking refugees from Cuba — part of a wave of music and culture that emigrated from east to west in the wake of the Haitian Revolution.  We’ll look at the distinct African roots of these three regions, and compare what their musics sound like today.  In this Hip Deep edition of  Afropop Worldwide, our colleague Ned Sublette, author of “Cuba and Its Music: From the First Drum to the Mambo,” will talk with Dr. Gwendolyn Midlo Hall, author of “Africans in Colonial Louisiana”. Produced by Ned Sublette.

CALENDAR: For more on the points of contact between Cuban and Haitian culture, you might want to attend the Bildner Center‘s ACROSS THE WINDWARD PASSAGE SYMPOSIUM, to be to be held on March 5th in New York City. The workshop features papers by NYU professors Ada Ferrer (“Cuban Slave Society in the Shadow of the Haitian Revolution”) and  Sibylle Fischer (“Slavery and the Discourse of Universal Rights in Cuba, Haiti and Venezuela), and Washington University Romance Literatures Department’s chair Elzbieta Sklodowska (“Haiti and Cuban Oriente: Contact Zones and Zones of Silence”). For more details, click HERE.

The wonderful blog The Public Archive (an academic blog about Haiti with a similar approach to ours) just included a post on Antonio Maceo’s trip to Haiti. LINK.

In Honor of the Living Gods of Haiti

By Ariana Hernandez-Reguant, Cinema, Cuba Haiti, music, Religion No Comments »

Between 1945 and 1953, Maya Deren shot  many hours of footage of Voudou ceremonies. The result was a documentary film put together after her death. Although it lacks the experimentation that characterized her film work, Divine Horsemen. The Living Gods of Haiti has become an inescapable reference to all anthropologists investigating Caribbean and African religions. The entire film is on youtube in six part, but the quality is awful. A better quality copy can be watched HERE in its entirety and without cuts (for some reason it will not embed properly in this blog).

Here is a preview:

More recently, ethnomusicologist Lois Wilcken has spent her professional career documenting the music associated with Voudou, both in Haiti and New York, in ways that recall the work documented on this blog by scholars like Berta Jottar on the Cuban rumba. Wilcken has put together a marvelous website that constitutes a virtual journey through the religious music of Haiti and its diaspora. The website, with a wealth of audiovisual information and reference, is called Voudou Music of Haiti.

La Flaca Reedited

By Ariana Hernandez-Reguant, music No Comments »

Who, among those who lived in Cuba in the second part of the 1990s, has forgotten this song? Jarabe de Palo just reissued the album with a new video clip. Interestingly, the video stresses the expat experience in Cuba, firmly locating the band in a foreign city (New York in the video, in truth it was Barcelona, which tells more about the vanity of Barcelonians than anything else, but that’s another story). While it includes all the usual cliches about beauty and ruins, it also shows a self-consciousness of the foreigners’ position.

Two Latin music documentaries: Latin Music USA (2009), and the Latin Side of Soul (1972) now online

By Ariana Hernandez-Reguant, Cinema, music 2 Comments »


Latin Music USA aired on PBS last october on four episodes:

I. Bridges

II. The Salsa Revolution

III. The Chicano Wave

IV. Divas and Superstars

You can watch them HERE

Soul! “Shades of Soul, The Latin Side of Soul, Part I” aired on November 15, 1972


It has been just posted online and you can watch it HERE
(thanks to the Latin Jazz list-serve for the tip).


By Ariana Hernandez-Reguant, music, new book No Comments »

Two ethnographic approaches about the Changüï from Cuba’s Oriente

The first, in English:

Origins of Cuban Music and Dance Changüí
Benjamin Lapidus (Scarecrow Press, 2008)


The second in Spanish:

Guantánamo tiene su changüí, by Yaremi Estonel Lamoth

(Cuba: Editorial El Mar y la Montaña 2009)

50 years of Revolution. Special Issues and Recent Ethnographies

Consumption & material culture, Cultural production, daily life, Gender & sexuality, Globalization, greater Cuba, Health, History, media, Miami, music, new article, new chapter/edited volume, Race, Religion, Sport, Tourism No Comments »

Journal of Latin American Studies

Latin American Perspectives

In addition you might want to check out the following recent publications:

* By Ruth Behar and Lucia Suárez, an edited volume: THE PORTABLE ISLAND: Cubans at Home in the World.  Palgrave 2008.

* By Ivor Miller, a book: Voice of the Leopard: African Secret Societies and Cuba, University Press of Mississippi.

* By Ariana Hernandez-Reguant:

Special guest edited issue of the Journal of Latin American Anthropology, including introduction (“Alternative Geographies”), and articles by Laurie Frederik Meer, P. Sean Brotherton, Kenneth Routon, and Helen Safa.

“Radio Taino and the Cuban Quest for Identi…que?“, in Doris Sommer’s Cultural Agency in the Americas, Duke University Press, 2006.

“Havana’s Timba. A Macho Sound for Black Sex.” In Deborah Thomas and Kamari Clarke. Globalization and Race. Duke University Press, 2006.

* By Kenneth Routon. “Conjuring the past: Slavery and the historical imagination in Cuba.”  American Ethnologist (p 632-649), Volume 35 Issue 4

* By Laurie Frederik MeerPlayback Theatre in Cuba: the Politics of Improvisation and Free Expression,” in The Drama Review, Winter 2007, Vol. 51, No. 4, Pages 106-120

* By P. Sean Brotherton.  “We have to think like capitalists but continue being socialists”: Medicalized subjectivities, emergent capital, and socialist entrepreneurs in post-Soviet Cuba.  American Ethnologist, Vol. 35, Issue 2, pp. 259-274.  June 2008.

* By Mette Berg:

Between Cosmopolitanism and the National Slot: Cuba’s Diasporic Children of the Revolution, Identities (vol. 16, issue 2), Pages 129 – 156.

“Homeland and belonging among Cubans in Spain.”  Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology, Vol. 14 no. 2, (pp. 265-290)

* By Katrin Hansing, (2009). “South-South Migration and Transnational Ties between Cuba and Mozambique,” in Transnational Ties: Cities, Migrations, and Identities. M. P. Smith and J. Eade. New Brunswick, Transaction Publishers: 77-90.

* Even if you are already familiar with Todd Ramón Ochoa‘s article, “Versions of the Dead: Kalunga in Cuban Kongo Materiality,” in Cultural Anthropology Vol. 22, No. 4, November 2007, you should check out this link from C.A., which includes study questions and an embedded video clip.

*By Kristina Wirtz:

Her book is entitled Ritual, Discourse, and Community in Cuban Santería: Speaking a Sacred World University Press of Florida, 2007.  (only on hard cover).

See reviews: McIntosh, Janet. “(Book Review) Ritual, Discourse, and Community in Cuban Santería: Speaking a Sacred World. University of Florida Press, 2007.” by Kristina Wirtz. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology vol. 18(1) 2009: 163-4. And a review byElina Hartikainen (citation only, full-text not available), in the Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology, Volume 13, Number 2, November 2008 , pp. 461-462(2). Also, here is another link to a review (again, citation only) by Paul Christopher Johnson in the Journal of Anthropological Research, vol. 64, no. 4.  If you know of other reviews, or have your own comments, please take a moment to leave an update or comment!

Kristina Wirtz, “Hazardous waste: the semiotics of ritual hygiene in Cuban popular religion,” in JRAI vol. 15, pp. 476-501, 2009.

Kristina Wirtz:  “Divining The Past: The linguistic reconstruction of “African” roots in diasporic ritual registers and songs,” in Journal of Religion in Africa Special Issue: “African diasporic religions.”  27(2): 240-272, 2007.  Introduced by Stephan Palmié.

Wirtz, K. (2007) Deep language and diasporic culture: Learning to speak the ‘tongue of the orichas’ in Cuban Santería. American Ethnologist 34(1): 108-126.  Her abstract:

“Enregistered memory and Afro-Cuban historicity in Santería’s ritual speech,” in Language & Communication special issue: “Temporalities of Text.” 27(3), 2007.

Finally, check out two related pieces by Wirtz, “Introduction: Ritual Unintelligibility” (pp. 401-407. Read introduction) and “Making sense of unintelligible messages: Co-construction of meaning in Santería rituals,” (435-462. Abstract) in a special issue of the journal Text & Talk on “Ritual Unintelligibility,” 27(4), 2007.

* By Tom Carter

(1)  “New Rules to the Old Game: Cuban Sport and State Legitimacy in the Post-Soviet Era,” in Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power. 15 (2): 194-215, 2008.

(2)“Pitén en la Plaza: Some preliminary considerations on spatializing culture in Cuba” in Image, Power and Space: Studies in Consumption and Identity. Alan Tomlinson and Jonathan M. Woodham (eds). Aachen: Meyer & Meyer. Pp. 97-112.

(3)  “Of Spectacular Phantasmal Desires: Tourism and the Cuban State’s Complicity in its Commodification of its Citizens,” in Leisure Studies. 27 (3): 241-257, 2008.

(4) “Family Networks, State Interventions and the Experiences of Cuban Transnational Sport Migration,” in International Review of the Sociology of Sport. 42 (4): 371-389, (2007).

(5) “A Relaxed State of Affairs?: On Leisure, Tourism, and Cuban Identity” in The Discipline of Leisure: Embodying Cultures of “Recreation”. Simon Coleman and Tamara Kohn (eds). Oxford: Berghahn, pp. 127-145 (2007).

* By Martin Holbraad:

Definitive evidence, from Cuban gods,” in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, special issue The Objects of Evidence,vol. 14, issue s1, April 2008. Based on evidence collected during fieldwork among practitioners of Afro-Cuban religion in Havana, this paper seeks ‘recursively’ to redefine the notion of anthropological evidence itself. It does so by examining ethnographically practitioners’ concern with the ‘evidence’ deities give (e.g. successful divinations, divine cures, etc.), by virtue of which people’s relationships with deities are cemented. To the extent that this indigenous concept of evidence is different from notions of evidence anthropologists take for granted in their own work, it occasions the opportunity to transform those very assumptions. But such a procedure is itself evidential – pertaining to the relationship between ethnography and theory. The paper sets out the virtues, both ethnographic and theoretical, of this circularity.

Thinking Through Things: Theorising Artefacts Ethnographically, ed. by Amiria Henare, Martin Holbraad and Sari Wastell.  Routledge 2007.  The volume, as well as this exchange about the book between Martin Holbraad and Daniel Miller, is surely of general interest to those of us with an interest in consumption, goods, and so-called material culture.  Additionally, Holbraad’s chapter, “The Power of Powder: Multiplicity and Motion in the Divinatory Cosmology of Cuban Ifá (or mana, again)” also ought to be of interest for many ethnocuba readers. The book is also reviewed at Savage Minds, here.

Roulette anthropology: the whole beyond holism,” in Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society, 32 (2). pp. 29-47 (2007). The paper builds an argument about holism in anthropological theory by drawing an ethnographic contrast between divination and gambling in Cuba.  Outlining the contrasting modes of prediction in each case, it is shown that while diviners’ predictions draw on cosmological models of the world, gamblers’ seek to source the cosmos itself.  Their concern with going beyond cosmology is bound up with their orientation (obsessive sometimes) towards what they call ‘cábalas’ – attention-grabbing coincidences of everyday life.  A similar contrast can be drawn with regard to anthropological notions of ‘holism’.  Available versions of holism are ‘cosmological’ inasmuch as they pertain to the role of models in anthropology.  Nevertheless, anthropologists too are as concerned with accessing the cosmos, allowing ‘the field’ to speak for itself in ethnography.  Like the gamblers (and unlike colleagues in more disciplined disciplines), anthropologists find that it is only when they stop reasoning in terms of pre-conceived cosmologies that worlds begin to reveal themselves as such.  So anthropology goes beyond holism by becoming more holistic than it already thinks it is: from cosmology to the cosmos.  It is oriented towards the underbelly of reason par excellence, ventriloquising itself into the cosmos at ‘ethnographic moments’ – coincidences – that can only register as ‘alterity’.  So a defence of radical ‘holism’, it is argued, is also a defence of a radical ‘exoticism’.

Expending Multiplicity: Money in Cuban Ifá Cults,” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute vol. 11 (2), pp. 231-254.  2005.

* By Maria Gropas

“Landscape, Revolution and Property Regimes in Rural Havana,” 2006. Journal of Peasant Studies, vol. 33 issue 2, pp. 248-277

The Repatriotization of Revolutionary Ideology and Mnemonic Landscape in Present-Day Havana,”  in Current Anthropology 48 (4), 2007. Includes commentaries by Virginia R. Domíguez, Nadine Fernandez, Martin Hall, Martin Holbraad, and Mona Rosendahl, as well as a reply by the author.  The conversation has an amplified on-line version, with additional color images, here.
*By Matthew Hill, “Re-Imagining Old Havana: World Heritage and the Production of Scale in Late Socialist Cuba” in Deciphering The Global: Its Scales, Spaces and Subjects, ed. by Saskia Sassen (2007).
* By Miguel de la Torre. 2003. La Lucha for Cuba: Religion and Politics on the Streets of Miami, University of California Press, by Miguel A. De La Torre. Reviewed Here by Laurie Frederik Meer’s in e-misférica.
* By Amalia Cabezas.  “The Eroticization of Labor in Cuba’s All-Inclusive Resorts: Performing Race, Class and Gender in the New Tourist Economy,” in Social Identities, Volume 12, Issue 5 September 2006 , pages 507 – 521.

* By Amy L. Porter, “Fleeting Dreams and Flowing Goods: Citizenship and Consumption in Havana Cuba” in PoLAR vol. 31, no. 1, pp. 134-149.  May 2008.
* By Noelle Stout.Feminists, Queers and Critics: Debating the Cuban Sex Trade,” in the Journal of Latin American Studies, vol 40, pp. 721-742 (2008).
* By Rogelio Martínez Furé. 2007. Eshu (oriki a mi mismo)  y otras descargas.
* By Valerio Simoni, “‘Riding’ Diversity: Cubans’/Jineteros‘ Uses of ‘Nationality-talks’ in the Realm of their Informal Encounters with Tourists” in Tourism Development: Growth, Myths and Inequalities, ed. by Peter M. Burns & Marina Novelli, CAB International, 2008, pp. 68-84.
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