"I Worship Black Gods": Formation of an African American Lucumi Religious Subjectivity
MetadataShow full item record
CitationNorman, Lisanne. 2015. "I Worship Black Gods": Formation of an African American Lucumi Religious Subjectivity. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractIn 1959, Christopher Oliana and Walter “Serge” King took a historic journey to pre-revolutionary Cuba that would change the religious trajectory of numerous African Americans, particularly in New York City. They became the first African American initiates into the Afro-Cuban Lucumi orisha tradition opening the way for generations of African Americans who would comprehensively transform their way of life. This dissertation examines the inter-diasporic exchanges between African Americans and their Cuban teachers to highlight issues of African diasporic dissonance and differing notions of “blackness” and “African.” I argue that these African Americans create a particular African American Lucumi religious subjectivity within the geographical space of an urban cosmopolitan city as they carve out space and place in the midst of religious intolerance and hostility. The intimate study of these devotees’ lives contributes new understandings about the challenges of religious diversity within contemporary urban settings. These African Americans cultivated a new religious subjectivity formed through dialogical mediation with spiritual entities made present through material religious technologies, such as divination, spiritual masses, and possession. Through the lens of lived religion, I examine the experiences of African American Lucumi devotees to better understand how their everyday lives reflect the mediation between a private religious life, defined and structured by spiritual entities, and their public lives in the contemporary sociocultural, economic and political context of urban American society. Based on more than 8 years of intense participant observation and semi-structured interviews and discussions, I analyze how religious subjectivities and religious bodies are cultivated as these African Americans leave their mark on this religious tradition, their geographical surroundings, and African American religious history.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:17467218
- FAS Theses and Dissertations