About the Book
Indigenous and African Diaspora Religions in the Americas explores spirit-based religious traditions across vast geographical and cultural expanses, including Canada, the United States, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago, Mexico, Brazil, and Chile. Using interdisciplinary research methods, this collection of original perspectives breaks new ground by examining these traditions as typologically and historically related. This curated selection of the traditions allows readers to compare and highlight convergences, while the description and comparison of the traditions challenges colonial erasures and expands knowledge about endangered cultures.
The inclusion of spirit-based traditions from a broad geographical area emphasizes the typology of religion over ethnic compartmentalization. The individuals and communities studied in this collection serve spirits through rituals, song, instruments, initiation, embodiment via possession or trance, veneration of nature, and, among some Indigenous people, the consumption of ritual psychoactive entheogens. Indigenous and African diaspora practices focused on service to ancestors and spirits reflect ancient substrates of religiosity. The rationale to separate them on disciplinary, ethnic, linguistic, geographical, or historical grounds evaporates in our interconnected world. Shared cultural, historical, and structural features of American indigenous and African diaspora spirit-based traditions mutually deserve our attention since the analyses and dialogues give way to discoveries about deep commonalities and divergences among religions and philosophies.
Still struggling against the effects of colonialism, enslavement, and extinction, the practitioners of these spirit-based religious traditions hold on to important but vulnerable parts of humanity’s cultural heritage. These readings make possible journeys of recognition as well as discovery.
Benjamin Hebblethwaite is an associate professor in Haitian Creole, Haitian, and Francophone studies at the University of Florida. He is the author of A Transatlantic History of Haitian Vodou and coeditor of Stirring the Pot of Haitian History. Silke Jansen is a professor of Romance linguistics at Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nürnberg in Germany. She is the author of several publications on language and culture contacts in the Caribbean.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
Introduction: Indigenous and African Diaspora Religions in the Americas: Multidisciplinary Approaches
Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Silke Jansen
1. Meeting Grounds in Saint-Domingue and the Emergence of Haitian Vodou; An Ecological Approach
2. The Many Faces of Marie Laveau and Voudou in Nineteenth-century New Orleans
Eleanor A. Laughlin
3. Shamanic Healing, Initiation, and Ritual Technique in a Kwak’wala Narrative from the Boas-Hunt Corpus
Daniel J. Frim
4. Language and Rituals of the Brotherhood of the Holy Spirit of the Kongos of Villa Mella
José María Santos Rovira
5. “A Joyful Place”: Baniwa Jaguar Shamans’ Songs and Historical Change
Robin M. Wright
6. Embodying, Reshaping, and Combining the Past and the Future: A Mapuche Shaman’s Historical Agency in Chile
Ana Mariella Bacigalupo
7. Other Knowledges: Tensions and Negotiation between Religion, Knowledges, and School in a Wixárika community
Francisco Iritamei Benítez de la Cruz and Itxaso García Chapinal
8. “It’s the Song that Cures”: Healing, Music, and Ayahuasca in Brazil’s Santo Daime Churches
9. Finding Orisha in New Places
Jeffery M. Gonzalez