Now You See It, Now You Don’t: Santería, Anthropology, and the Semiotics of “Belief” in Santiago de Cuba

In: New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids
Stephan Palmié .

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[First paragraph]Ritual, Discourse and Community in Cuban Santería: Speaking a Sacred World. Kristina Wirtz. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2007.xxiv + 253 pp. (Cloth US $ 59.95)Crossing the Waters: A Photographic Path to the Afro-Cuban Spirit World. Claire Garoutte & Anneke Wambaugh. Durham NC: Duke University Press, 2007. xiii + 258 pp. (Paper US $ 24.95)In recent years, the literature on Santería has grown by leaps and bounds. Check the call number BL2532.S3 in the Library of Congress online catalogue, and you will see that, as of January 2009, the number of acquisitions it includes has reached exactly one hundred, with thirty new additions since the beginning of the millennium! Of course, BL2532.S3 locates a somewhat heterogeneous array of publications – ranging, as they do, from full-fledged academic monographs to practitioners’ manuals and memoirs, or the type of flimsy booklet one is likely to encounter in dog-eared versions in the book market at Havana’s Plaza de Armas. But it is clear that even specialists are nowadays likely to throw up their hands in despair over the dwindling prospects of being able to keep up with this flood of representations of Santería.

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