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Kristina Wirtz, talk at the University of Chicago (11/8/10)

Anthropological institutions, By Paul Ryer, Calendar, Seminars & talks Add comments

Kristina S. Wirtz, on “From Blackface to Voice of the Spirits: A ‘Brutology’ of Bozal

Monday, November 8, 2010,   3:30 pm University of Chicago,  Haskell 315

It was a great pleasure, and one more sign that anthropological scholarship on Cuba continues to prosper, to receive notice of the forthcoming talk by linguistic anthropologist Kristina Wirtz, author of Ritual, Discourse, and Community in Cuban Santería, and associate professor at Western Michigan U., at the mythical Monday Seminar of the University of Chicago Department of Anthropology.  As part of the anthropological community with sustained interest in Cuban research (among faculty, principally Stephan Palmié and Shannon Dawdy, as well as M.R. Trouillot, Marshall Sahlins, John Kelly and others, and, among  numerous Ph.D. students & graduates, ourselves, EthnoCuba’s editors), we are sorry to miss what will certainly be an outstanding talk and conversation!

Here is some background information

BA                1991    Cornell (Neurobiology & Behavior)
MS               1993     Cornell (Education)
PhD              1997    University of Pennsylvania (Anthropology)
Dissertation:   “Speaking a Sacred World: Discursive Practices of Skepticism and Faith in Cuban Santeria”

Current Projects:
“Performing Afro-Cuba: Race and History in Religious Performance and Folkloric Spectacle”  Book ms.
“Interdiscursivity and the Enregisterment of Cuban Borzal Speech from Blackface ‘Costumbrism’ to Voice of the Spirits”
” ‘Ochun owns my head’ and other Intersections of Spirit Biographies and Autobiographical Narratives in Cuban Folk Religion”

Publications (selective)

2007  Ritual, Discourse, and Community in Cuban Santeria: Speaking a Sacred World, Univ of Press of Florida

n.d.  “Racializing Performances in Cuban Popular Religion and Folklore,” in K. Wirtz & H.P. Dick, eds., Racializing Discourses, special issue of Journal of Linguistic Anthropology. Forthcoming

2009  “Hazardous Waste: The Semiotics of Ritual Hygiene in Cuban Popular Religion,” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (N.S.) 15: 476-501.

2008  “Divining the Past: The Linguistic Reconstruction of ‘African’ Roots in Diasporic Ritual Registers and Songs,” in Africas of the Americas: Beyond the Search for Origins in the Study of Afro-Atlantic Religions.

2007  “How Diasporic Religious Communities Remember: Learning to Speak the ‘Tongue of the Orichas’ in Cuban Santeria,” American Ethnologist, 34(1) 108-126.

2007  “Enregistered Memory and Afro-Cuban Historicity in Santeria’s Ritual Speech,” Language and Communication 27(3): 245-257

2007  “Making Sense of Unintelligible Messages: Co-Construction of Meaning in Santeria Rituals,” Text and Talk, 27(4): 435-462.

2007  “Divining the Past: The Linguistic Reconstruction of ‘African’ Roots in Diasporic Ritual Registers and Songs,” Journal of Religion in Africa, 27(2): 240-272.

2005  “Where Obscurity is a Virtue: The Mystique of Unintelligibility in Santeria Ritual,” Language and Communication, 25(4): 351-375

2004  “Santeria in Cuban National Consciousness: A Religions Case of the ‘Doble Moral’‘ ” Journal of Latin American Anthropology 9(2): 409-438.

One Response to “Kristina Wirtz, talk at the University of Chicago (11/8/10)”

  1. Nancy Mikelsons Says:

    Dear Prof. Wirtz: I am an independent scholar who has spent 20 years in Santiago de Cuba studying Espiritismo, especially Espiritismo Cruzado. In preparation for writing a chapter for an anthology being edited by Christopher Moreman I started by reading your book, Speaking a Sacred World. It has been extremely helpful to me in sorting out many of the differences between Santeria and Espiritismo Cruzado. I was particularly intrigued because you are the only scholar I know of who done her research on Santeria in Santiago de Cuba. One question evolved for me that I cannot begin to understand the history of. R.L.Roman’s discussion of the treatment of an Espritist in eastern Cuba as opposd to the treatment of an Espiritist in Havana has well articulated the situation in the early 20th century, that Black Oriente has never been taken as seriously or positively as white Havana. Espiritismo had by the end of the 19th Century become a ‘popular’ religion in western Cuba but did not arrive ‘full blown’ until the third and fourth decades of the 20th century in Oriente. How did Espiritismo take on the pantheon of Santeria? Can you point me to any discussion of this question? I have a feeling that we have shaken hands during a Fiesta del Fuego but never had a chance to sit down and talk. Any place that I might find any history or even speculation on the closeness of the pantheons of two quite distinct religious practices would be much appreciated. Many thanks in advance for any advice and counsel you might share with me would be deeply appreciated.

    Nancy Mikelsons
    INdependent Scholar
    Oak Park, IL

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