Afro-Cuban Counterpoint: Religious and Political Encompassments

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This article explores Afro-Cuban religiosity in ways that see it neither as an epiphenomenon of political regimes nor as a dimension of symbolic resistance. We argue that people are produced in Afro-Cuban religion in hyperindividualized ways through cosmologies that largely “encompass” everyday life, including politics. In contrast, the socialist revolution has sought to “encompass” individuals by ascribing to them a universally ethical and ideological destiny. These antithetical directions of “encompassment” do not create a rigid hierarchical schema but generally leave tensions unresolved: both ideals are ultimately unrealized. Precisely because one flourishes where the other fails, the relationship between Afro-Cuban religions and socialist politics acquires characteristics of what Fernando Ortiz terms a counterpoint that leaves vital room for conflict, resistance, and rupture. [Afro LatinAmericans, Cuba, divination, politics, religion, socialist revolution, witchcraft]. © 2019 by the American Anthropological Association
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)727-745
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019


  • Cuba
  • Popular music
  • Dance


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