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Baby Baby Girls Baby Boys. Request a quote Favorite. Free delivery in Phnom Penh. Print Length pages. Publisher Sant Jordi Asociados May 14, Excelente libro e historia que te deja cautivada desde el principio. Re-encuentro con uno mismo. Aunque este no es el mejor libro de Coello, es facil de leer y muy interesante. El lector observa el re-encuentro consigo mismo de los personajes, el amor olvidado y renacido, y los temores del momento.
Tambien el autor presenta retos tales como la posibilidad de que Dios, el principio de todas las cosas, sea mujer como Madre Naturaleza, madre de todas las cosas. Aunque en ocasiones se torna algo aburrido, pronto el autor recoje la atencion del lector hasta terminarlo. El equilibrio entre yo y el otro yo. Buen libro, facil de leer. European avant-gardes were drawn to things African in this post—World War I period precisely because they saw them as standing in contrast or even in opposition to European society.
Siete años para pecar (Volumen independiente nº 1) Sylvia Day - EPUB
It offered not only the lure of the exotic, the other, but it con- tained a certain shock value in its symbolic rejection of the norms visual, aesthetic, and, implicitly, social of European society. Ethnography, used as an imperial tool for cataloguing and categorizing colonized peoples, had been largely responsible for the creation of the idea of the primitive. In the hands of the avant-gardes, ethnographic techniques were put to new ends. While ethnographers sought to illuminate unfamiliar and radically different beliefs and social practices in order to assimilate them to Western rationality, the Surrealists explored the unknown or the not- yet-understood precisely to immerse themselves in the new, the strange, and the forbidden.
In the Surrealist approach employed by the journal, the ethnographic elements both visual and textual , which often served not as descriptive explanation but as elements of collage, emphasized the vio- lent, the disturbing, and the disjunctive rather than rendering these ele- ments more comprehensible. His description renders blackness fully other, and connects it to both unin- hibited sensuality and the exotic.
Yet even as European writers and artists such as Desnos were engaged in reading blackness as aestheticized and exoticized, African, Afro-Carib- bean, and African American writers were exploring the representation of a black literary subjectivity from within the same city. As Brent Hayes Edwards, Jody Blake, Edward Said, and others have shown, Paris during the interwar years was an important site for the development of the dis- courses of black internationalism, as it allowed for meeting between black artists, writers, and performers from the United States, Africa, and the Caribbean.
These encounters allowed black intellectuals to engage in conversations about race and racial iden- tity that crossed geographic, national, and even linguistic boundaries. De- spite the fact that French colonialism had contributed to the repression of African and Afro-Caribbean peoples, the French capital ironically served as the stage for a number of literary gestures of racial solidarity. In an autobiographical gesture, the poem features a poetic speaker who achieves a radically reborn racialized consciousness in part as a result of his experiences as an Afro-Caribbean in France.
As I show in the previ- ous chapter, Fernando Ortiz, faced with the need to describe and portray black Cubans, employs a series of ethnographic narrative techniques in his early ethnography Hampa afrocubana: Los negros brujos that temporally displace these bodies from the space of the nation. Carpentier and Cabrera, in creating literary representations of Cuban blackness, had greater freedom to employ their ethnographic knowledge and material to different aesthetic or symbolic ends.
In this way both writers explore the deeper potential meanings of ethnographic allegory, yet they do so within texts that are not, strictly speaking, ethnographies. Carpentier, son of a French father and a Russian mother, was active as a journalist and in avant-garde literary circles in Cuba prior to his arrival in France. When he was freed, Robert Desnos encouraged him to go into exile in France. The young Cuban writer arrived in Paris in , where thanks to his friend- ship with Desnos he became affiliated with the Surrealist movement just as it was beginning to fracture Birkenmaier, Alejo Carpentier, Despite the creative fecundity of this period, Carpentier, in a later re- flection on the prevailing mood of the time, highlights the discursive and ideological constraints under which he, like many Latin American intel- lectuals, found himself in the s: Yet while Euro- pean writers, in the wake of a devastating war, rejected the new conven- tions of the modern, industrialized society that had led Europe into war in the first place, Latin American writers were anxious to distance their home nations from their colonial past and thus to ally themselves with the modern.
Their views on the new trends in literary and artistic cre- ation were conditioned by their particular circumstances as post colo- nial subjects, and by their own national or colonial contexts. In this meeting of national interests and avant-garde aesthetics, race— in particular, the use and presentation of blackness—was, in fact, a nota- ble area of tension. Latin American writers in Paris thus found themselves caught between the French fascination for things African which included the African Diaspora in the Americas and a need to mediate this desire with regard to their national contexts and national publics.
Most Latin American nations had mixed-race populations, which—depending on the country—included both indigenous populations and people of Af- rican origin; blackness was therefore not foreign but part of the national panorama and the national history. If Afro—Latin Americans were viewed as other, they were not exotically distant others but rather others within the boundaries of the nation. Both he and Cabrera made strong use of Afro- Cuban elements in the texts they wrote and published while in France.
Yet in their portrayal of Afro-Cuban characters and the incorporation of ele- ments of Afro-Cuban religion and popular culture in their texts, Cabrera and Carpentier found themselves in the challenging position of writing for two different reading publics; despite some similarities in taste, the cultural demands of the educated Cuban public were in some ways strik- ingly different from the interests of their Parisian Francophone, Euro- pean counterparts.
Blake observes that Europeans were often unconscious of the ways in which musical performances by African American or Caribbean artists were mediated by modern, transnational circumstances: Cuban readers, even upper-class white Cuban readers as many were , held different ideas; while they may have been unfamiliar with the spe- cifics of Afro-Cuban religious practice, they knew black Cubans, as they shared both public and domestic space with them. Afro-Cuban carnival bands, or comparsas, were prohibited from public performance in , a ban that was not officially lifted until Yet many Afro-Cuban religious practices were in fact not legalized until well into the s.
The texts by Carpentier and Cabrera that I explore in this chapter re- solve this conflict between the European taste for blackness as exotica and the Cuban ambivalence of identifying blackness as Cuban by making blackness function as something more than simply a demarcation of phe- notypical—or even cultural—difference. The strategic use of blackness in their texts can simul- taneously communicate primitive transgression and trace the contours of a national sense of belonging.
Ethnographic narrative distance, the use of allegorical metaphors connecting blackness with nation, and an emphasis on performative elements associated with Afro-Cuban culture all become means to construct blackness as symbolic. In this novel, blackness becomes an aestheticized marker for the exotic other through the displacement of these anxieties onto the landscape of the Haitian Revolution.
In this capacity, blackness becomes a tool that allows Carpentier to wed the demands of reimagining national culture to his avant-garde project. Usebio is portrayed as intimately connected to the land; there is nothing he does not know about sugar cane, as he has spent his whole life farming these fields.
Yet both his liveli- hood and his way of life are threatened—not by changes brought about by other Cubans but by foreign outsiders, for a North American company now owns the sugar mill. From its first chapters, the novel identifies the sugar mill as the en- emy, a symbol of North American economic domination. Mill life is governed by the demands of the market, and oper- ates according to the rhythm of machines, not men. Life organizes itself according to its wishes. The bongo, antidote to Wall Street! By identifying Menegildo and his family as black at the beginning of this declaration, the text traces a direct con- nection between blackness and the primitive drum rhythms.
In this symbolic placement, blackness also functions as a commodity—an antidote to threats of foreignness in its position as nonmodern. Afro-Cuban music and, through it, blackness is shown as not just nationally authentic, but is revealed as the particular cultural capital that counteracts North American capitalist degradation. The almost animal instruments and the black litanies came together under the sign of an invisible for- est.
Certainly, the text does provide evocative de- scriptions of the spectacles of Afro-Cuban culture—both social gather- ings and religious ceremonies. Carpentier employs ethnographic description in his text in a Surrealist sense—not as a process of docu- menting to understand, but rather as a means for emphasizing the strange and the disquieting. Documents in novel form Contrasting with the descriptions of these religious beliefs and practices are the unusual photographs that accompany the text.
Most of these photos appear to be ethnographic in nature, as they feature religious al- tars or groupings of statues. The ritual is thus portrayed as a brief, violent, and ultimately mysterious textual snapshot; but it is not connected with any of the photographs accompanying the text. In one particularly notable scene, Usebio, searching for a place to shelter his family after a hurricane has wrecked the area, stumbles upon a group of Haitians who are clearly in the middle of a religious ceremony. Rather than experiencing a sense of recognition, what he sees shocks and horrifies him: Un rosario de muelas.
In the center, a small statue with a headdress of nails, holding a long metal bar. A rosary of molars. And a group of Haitians with evil eyes. Yet as we have seen, the Haitians in the text are more than mere threats to Cuban labor; the concrete material circumstances that might lead to discord between Haitian and Cuban workers are masked in questions of national and cultural identity.
Exploring this connection, Sklodowska argues that Haitians in the novel are perceived as dangerous to Cuban society both because of their blackness and because of their his- tory the slave uprising that became the Haitian Revolution Espectros, In the meeting of violent history and racialized otherness, they thus provide a perfect negative pole against which to position Cuban blackness.
Denied a formal education, he is kept out of school to help Usebio haul sugar cane. By the time he reaches adoles- cence, he has thus become a being operating primarily on instinct rather than intellect, uneducated, yet physically and musically dexterous: Pero en cambio era ya doctor en gestos y cadencias. A sense of rhythm beat in his blood. The description indicates that even as a small child, Menegildo understands something of religious ritual as a kind of performance, for he recognizes the altar as a place where this sym- bolic drama occurs.
In this way, spirituality and religious practice are tied to the realm of the instinctual, rather than the intellectual or rational arena. He was furious, he was happy. The law thus steps in to control this transgression, making Menegildo visible in the eyes of the state. His portrait, in feet and inches, cranial capacity and the enumeration of de- cayed molars, was drawn with stunning exactitude.
Those earlier juxtapositions render Afro-Cuban religion strange and exotic, but they open up the space of the text. On the one hand, this religious initiation marks a further stage in his maturation; he is formally accepted into a community and given greater responsibility. As anthropologist Johannes Fabian has argued, a denial of coevalness is one of the principal strategies that anthropological discourse particularly when used as a tool of empire employs in order to both characterize its subjects as primitive, and in fact to locate them as subjects at all.
Blackness and the Marvelous Real: By , when Carpentier published El re- ino de este mundo The Kingdom of This World , he chose to displace many of these issues safely far away from Cuba. In the later version of the essay, this journey of discovery has been expanded, so that only after recording his travels in other parts of the globe—China, Iran, Russia—does his essay turn to Latin America, and eventually to Haiti: In a disavowal of his own early involvement in the Surrealist move- ment, Carpentier sustains that European Surrealism is an inauthentic and forced attempt to produce the kind of expansion of reality that Latin America has naturally: This trip, and his subsequent investigations into Haitian history, became both the in- spiration for his elaboration of the marvelous real and one of his primary examples.
Haiti, in the s and s, was seen as the site of the exotic primitive in the Americas par excel- lence. Setting his novel in the time of the Haitian Revolution separates these two mentalities by race and class the plantation colonist aristocracy versus the African slaves. In this stark environment of colonial oppression, blackness emerges as a transgres- sive, contestatory element. In the rigidly seg- regated society of colonial Haiti, racial and class differences are clearly delineated and carefully policed.
After losing an arm in an accident with a cane press, Mackandal runs away from the plantation and begins organizing the rebellion from his hideaway in the hills. For the whites, he is the monstrous, the unspeakable, the unsubjugable other. Even his particular African regional identity carries with it the threat of social upheaval: Mandingue was a synonym for intractable, rebellious, a devil Yet after he escapes, Mackandal also gains a knowledge of local plants and par- ticularly of poisons , proving that his skills are not simply limited to Af- rica.
Carpen- tier describes the execution as if it were a performance. The slaveowners have set the scene; they have built the bonfire, taken up their positions as spectators in the plaza below, and most importantly, have gathered all the slaves in the square to witness the event. It is clear that the whites view the event as a spectacle. Slaves who defy the social authority of the plantation own- ers must be shown that their actions will bring reprisal, that there is a price to be paid for trying to disrupt the social order.
Mackandal is tied to the stake and the bonfire is lit according to plan, but at the last minute he slips his bonds, and for a second it looks as though he will successfully escape. It is here that Carpentier splits the narrative perspective: What should have thus become a harsh lesson in plantation discipline becomes a model story of liberation. Rather than legitimating a sustained counternar- rative, it serves mainly to question and provoke. Ti Noel, the protagonist of El reino de este mundo, is a slave coachman on the plantation of M.
As such, he occupies a rela- tively privileged position in the slave hierarchy, in that he has a significant amount of freedom and a vantage point from which to observe both the world of the slaves and that of the plantation owners, often serving as a window onto scenes of conflict between the two worldviews.
While Ti Noel is primarily an observer, I disagree with the assertion that he does so un- comprehendingly. After escaping from virtual enslavement as a forced laborer building the fortress of Sans-Souci, Ti Noel eventually finds himself with nowhere to go but back to the plan- tation where he had lived as a slave. If, as the title asserts or insists, these are black Cu- ban stories, there is nothing within the texts themselves that attempts to specifically code or decode blackness for the reader. This highlights a principal difference between Cabrera and Carpentier: Black- ness in her work alludes to structures of meaning from an ethnographic standpoint , but does not necessarily fulfill any weightier symbolic or al- legorical function.
The time in which they occur is unspecified, and their setting is unnamed, or is identified by a name that a geographer would be hard-pressed to locate on a real map. These stories contain what might be viewed as archetypal characters or storylines: Some of these stories depict human beings, while the protagonists of others are anthropomorphized animals. These tales distinctively construct blackness not as other something to be spoken about but as the place from which enunciation takes place.
It should be remembered that these stories were read by and implicitly written for largely white audiences, and that these audiences were both European and Cuban. In what follows, I offer close read- ings of three stories from Cuentos negros to show the ways in which Ca- brera both anchors and frees a reading of blackness in her texts. Carpentier is interested in representing the material and performative elements of these cultural practices. Ca- brera, however, incorporates these elements into the text allegorically, us- ing them to expand the dynamics of meaning.
The story that follows is composed of two parts: Yet her in- ability to resist her sexual desire proves to be her undoing. Cabrera utilizes the shifts in the text between the mythic timelessness of the orichas and the temporal specificity of an urban Havana neighborhood at the turn of the twentieth century to communicate the close relationship of the physical and spiritual worlds in Afro-Cuban cosmology. While the morality play of the story is something that might occur in many cultural contexts, the cultural milieu of the story is profoundly Afro-Cuban.
The clearest expression of the Afro-Cuban environment of the story can be found in the language. As with other stories in the volume, the text is full of African words that have been incorporated into Spanish. Only oc- casionally is the meaning of a word explained by a brief footnote; in most instances, readers are left to glean the meaning of a word through its use.
The same is true of the sections of Afro-Cuban song that are inserted. In both of these situations, however, there is a price to be paid for sinning, even if it does not necessarily negate the pleasure of the action. By linking the earthly and the heavenly, Cabrera demonstrates without needing to narrate or explain the way that Afro-Cuban cosmology intersects with and relates to life in an Afro-Cuban community. The tale is set in the kingdom of Cocozumba, making the story one of the few in the collection that seems to possibly be set somewhere in Africa, rather than in Cuba.
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The Glowworm dies, and bequeaths his job and his kingdom to Toro the Bull. Assuming the throne, the Bull becomes a kind of dictator. To guarantee his power over the kingdom, he decrees that he will be the only male in it, and that all the women in the kingdom are to be his concubines. All men are slaughtered, as is any male child born thereafter. Yet one woman, Sanune, dares to defy the king. She takes the body of her little son into the forest and offers him to the orichas, who bring him back to life and hide him from the Bull. On another level, however, this is a story about balance, both social and religious.
The father Bull has been a tyrannical radical, wanting to install a new and disastrous system; the son restores balance by returning the society of Cocozumba to its timeless status quo. It is also possible to read the story in a more directly symbolic light, as it allegorically portrays the conditions of slavery albeit a system of slav- ery operated along rigidly gendered lines.
When Sanune saves her son, she flees to the woods much as runaway slaves fled to the bush. Seen this way, the story offers a critique of slavery and a projection of its demise. While it could be argued that the slippage be- tween the two categories is precisely what allows the story to comment on slavery along racial lines, reading this way also presents the possibility for a less liberating understanding of the text.
On the contrary, it suggests that bal- ance is lost when those boundaries are questioned. Billillo, eaten up with jealousy, goes to see a sorcerer who puts a dark spell on him. Faithful to the prerequisites of a tale of origins, Cabrera does not ex- plicitly date when this story takes place. Yet she includes certain descrip- tive elements in the story that in addition to locating it an urban, largely Afro-Cuban environment give us an approximate time frame for the set- ting. Organiza- tions established by slaves who arrived in Cuba from the same location in Africa, cabildos were designated originally as meeting places by the Span- ish authorities; they later grew into mutual aid societies and centers for Afro-Cuban religious practice Brown Designating the cabildo as the center of the community makes it clear that the story takes place in an Afro-Cuban neighborhood, and further references the colonial era, since after Independence other kinds of religious centers and clubs particu- larly social organizations such as Club Atenas, which catered to middle- class Cubans of color , began to provide some of the services originally provided by cabildos.
Billillo is black and a slave although a slave with certain privileges , while the mayor is a powerful member of the white elite. Yet through both its plot and its characters, it makes a num- ber of significant gestures toward foundational texts of Cuban literature. More than the coachman-slave, the figure of the mulata was used as both a visual and literary symbol of Cuba and Cuban society from the nineteenth century onwards. In the end, she will get no further than the banks of the river.
In both mod- els, the social structure that is initially threatened—whether comically or tragically—is, in the end, restored. Social stability—a balance created and maintained by both class and racial structures—is maintained. Yet a reader could also see this rebalancing in a positive light; the threats to this social order have been eradicated. They disrupt the expected site of enunciation at least for a ma- jority white readership , yet this disruption does not necessarily serve to question racial or class hierarchies.
Cuentos negros de Cuba As its title suggests, this tale offers an explanation for the origins of different races. In this version, all men are originally black, in the image of the creator: The first brother, upon bathing in the well, becomes entirely white. Had the tale ended there, it would resemble other such stories that cir- culate in both folklore and popular mythology. When the black man bemoans his fate, it is the Devil who appears to comfort him: Run- ning away from the Devil, the man runs into a tree flattening his nose and is stung by a scorpion swelling his lips.
As with the stories in Cuentos negros, this tale identifies blackness as the central—or origi- nal—race, the color not only of all people in the beginning but also the color of the creator. Yet when the brothers bathe in the pool and people of different colors are created, the story creates an immediate hierarchy from which it does not deviate and which it does not question. By inserting slavery into this narrative—a slavery, furthermore, that recalls the Caribbean system of slavery in its construction of social and racial hierarchies—the story suggests a direct correlation between race and social position, and also implicitly legitimates the system of slavery as something that has been there since different races emerged.
It locates the narrative center of these stories not just within Afro-Cuban culture or Afro-Cuban communities but more specifically within Afro-Cuban culture in the colonial era. This gesture also identifies the Afro-Cuban narrative voice as carefully contained within these hierarchies, regardless of what may hap- pen in subsequent stories. For Carpentier, to understand the Caribbean, one must travel to China and Russia and Europe, and only then can one return home. Because Carpentier is in- terested in Cuba as it is positioned in the broader Western context, he views blackness in a comparative context; it is always already constructed as other in opposition to something.
Thus even when his texts celebrate the primitive and through it, blackness , they do so in a way that locates blackness in a position of otherness. This otherness can be positively op- positional as it counteracts the threat of foreign domination or it can simply stand in for the unknown in a Surrealist sense , for forces or prac- tices that are not understood, that are beyond our understanding. Despite having begun her writing career in the turbulent avant-garde environment of Paris in the s, Cabrera keeps her stories close to home.
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While Parisian readers could and did read them as illustrations of an ex- otic worldview, her texts signal multiple readings for her Cuban readers. A significant number of the Cuentos negros can be read as nar- ratives about balance, whether that balance is achieved through spiritual, political, or social means.
One way to read this emphasis would be to see it as a characteristic of the Afro-Cuban worldview, or of the Afro-Cuban narrative context. After all, many Western folktales are about wrongs put right. The way in which race structures these narratives of balance, how- ever, suggests that while race can serve as a marker for belonging, it is also a way of reaffirming other kinds of social difference. If Carpentier sets limits around blackness by positionally sailing for other shores, Cabrera does so by retracing the social landscape of home.
Copyright by Emily A. Maguire Printed in the United States of America. It is a recycled stock that contains 30 percent post-consumer waste and is acid-free. Includes bibliographical references and index. Cuban literature—History and criticism. Identity Philosophical concept in literature. A Folklore for the Future: Race and National Narrative in Cuba 1 1. Fernando Ortiz and Lydia Cabrera 29 2. Beyond Bongos in Montmartre: The National Art of Signifyin g: Gender, Genre, and Ethnographic Authority: I thank Enrique del Risco Sr. Deborah Cohn and Matthew Guterl provided key mentoring advice at multiple points during my time in Bloomington and helped me grow as a scholar and as a human being.
This project benefited at a crucial stage from my dialogues with fellow participants in the Variations on Blackness Faculty Seminar held at Indiana University in — At Northwestern University, I have been lucky to find a community of like-minded colleagues whose friendship and intellectual engagement with my work has been vital to me in the last stages of this project. I am indebted to Reginald Gibbons for his detailed and sub- stantive comments on the manuscript, and to Jorge Coronado and Josef Barton, who have been not only the most generous of interlocutors but also the most supportive of chairs.
This book could not have been written without the help of the numer- ous friends and colleagues who contributed to the conception and real- ization of this project. I owe Gerard Aching a particular debt of gratitude, not only for introducing me to the work of Lydia Cabrera but also for his astute interventions and unfailing support at various moments dur- ing the writing process.
They know this work almost as well as their own. I am particularly grateful to Jacqueline Loss and James J. Pancrazio for their thoughtful comments on the manuscript, and to Guillermina De Ferrari, who offered numerous helpful insights and suggestions in the fi- nal stages of revision.
I would also like to thank my editors at University Press of Florida: While not directly involved in the writing process, my parents, James Maguire and Betty Hayzlett, and my brother Stephen kept me going with their unconditional love and support. Finally, I thank Lola, who was there at the beginning, and Idaho, who is here at the end.
I wish to thank the following individuals and institutions for permis- sion to reprint or reproduce the following materials in this book: In all other cases every effort has been made to locate possible copy- right holders or to acquire necessary permissions. Ortiz was a public intellectual in the full sense of the term. Born into a well-to- do Creole family in Havana, he was raised in Cuba and Spain, complet- ing his education, including a PhD in law, in Madrid. His lengthy and productive career began with the twenti- eth century and lasted into the first decades after the Revolution of He aimed through his scholarly and intellectual work to improve the understanding of Cuban culture and promote its celebration.
Ortiz was also one of the first Cuban scholars to undertake a study of Afro-Cuban culture, and to explore the question of how to incorporate blackness within the space of the nation. In addition to founding the journals Archivos del Folklore Cubano Archives of Cuban Folklore, — , and Estudios Afrocubanos Afro-Cuban Studies, — , the first—and only—journal to focus exclusively on the study of Afro-Cuban culture, Ortiz was the author of one of the earliest ethnographies of Afro-Cuban religion, Hampa afrocu- bana: Los negros brujos Afro-Cuban Underworld: Tobacco and Sugar, , is an exploration of the role of tobacco and sugar in shaping Cuban history and society that also highlights the relationship of race to these commodities.
In later interviews, Cabrera declared that she began to write stories based on Afro-Cuban tales to entertain de la Parra, who was ill with tuberculo- sis. Shortly after publishing one of the first collections of Afro-Cuban short stories, Cuentos negros de Cuba Afro-Cuban Tales, in France, she began a serious—and lifelong—study of Afro-Cuban religious practice. Cabrera and Ortiz articulate their different portrayals of Afro-Cuban religious culture in part through the ways that they construct their texts, and the structuring devices themselves provide Ortiz and Cabrera with ways of locating Afro-Cuban practices—and through them, blackness— within the national space.
Thanks to the influence of positivist thought, Ortiz views Western, modernizing societies as engaged in a pro- cess of historical evolution.
As a result, his analysis emphasizes historical development and makes use of a temporally structured narrative. At the same time, as Alfredo Cesar B. Cuba , between point of origin and place of arrival Old World vs. Beginning her ethnographic investigation several decades after Ortiz, Cabrera structures her study and her ideas about race around ideas of space and containment, centering her text both organizationally and thematically on el Monte the Bush , the physical and symbolic center of Afro-Cuban religion.
In addition to being the location of many plants and herbs in the Afro-Cuban pharmacopeia, el Monte was also traditionally the place in which maroons—escaped slaves—sought refuge. It is thus the location of the material elements of an Afro-Cuban religious practice, and a zone whose isolation from Cuban society the plantation system makes it representative of freedom.
Her mapping of these spaces of Afro-Cuban religion enables her to simultaneously incorporate radical ethnographic methodologies and to uphold conservative ideas of social structure, painting a portrait of Cuban society in which different races and cultural narratives coexist in relations of unequal power. Her texts accord Afro-Cuban culture its own place, but they also trace the limiting social boundaries that serve to contain it.
Certainly it was not an intimate familiarity with his subject. With the exception of nineteenth-century travel narratives and histori- cal descriptions of African slaves in Cuba, prior to Cuban independence there existed little scholarship dealing with Afro-Cuban religious tradi- tions.
Once Cuba became an independent nation, this positioning shifted, as the new narratives of identity that were being constructed came into contact and conflict with the documentation of actual racialized cultural practices. Early interest in Afro-Cuban culture, however, was often driven by ideas of racial superior- ity, in particular eugenics. In arguing that human identity was profoundly shaped by biology and heredity, eugenics supported the belief that social and racial hierarchies were biologically determined, that some individuals and races were biologically superior.
Eugenics and criminology were popular among white intellectuals in Cuba, beginning in the nineteenth century and extending into the first decades of the twentieth. White and black Cubans had shared both public and domestic space during the colonial era, often in situations of significant intimacy.
Once Cuba achieved inde- pendence, Cuban anthropologists found themselves studying people who were now their fellow citizens. Los negros brujos reflects the shift in discussions of race and social sci- ence methodology that these concerns for national narrative produced. It is my contention, however, that the narrative of Cuban culture that Ortiz will develop in his later texts is already visible in Los negros brujos. As in his later texts, however, his concern in this first study is the creation of a narrative that will adequately serve to simultaneously link and yet separate Cuban and Afro-Cuban identity.
Yet his anxiety over how to conceptualize Cuba as a nation—and the place of race within it—reveals itself in the tensions between temporal and spatial modes of narration that run through Los negros brujos. His desire to create a coher- ent national narrative creates a conflict in his work between subsuming the question of blackness into an idea of racial hybridity and recognizing and understanding the uniqueness of Afro-Cuban culture itself.
On the first page of Los negros brujos, Ortiz in- cludes a letter from Cesare Lombroso in Turin, Italy addressed to Or- tiz himself. Lombroso, today known as the father of criminology, was one of the most famous social scientists of his day, at a time when criminology was seen as an important branch of anthropological practice. I have received your manuscript, have read it, and judge it to be of extraordinary interest, so much so that I beg you to allow me to use your studies on suicide in blacks, Afro-Cuban criminality, and the crime of grave-defiling in my journal Archives of Psy- chiatry.
Los negros brujos was published just five years after the Platt Amendment barely released Cuba from being a U. In these first early years of the Republic, Ortiz was not alone in his desire to make Cuba a nation that could measure up to any nation in Europe. This was, in part, the result of centuries of colonialism, which had engi- neered both the country and its population to be dependent on Spain. Yet these writers also saw Cubans themselves as morally weak, indolent, and self-indulgent. The result is that today, after twenty-three years of republican life, we are still in a state of stagnation with respect to previous heights.
As a Cuban writing for Cubans, Ortiz views Afro-Cuban culture as important for the ways in which it can be used to illuminate a particular understand- ing of national identity. By viewing Afro-Cuban culture through the lens of European scien- tific progress, Ortiz, like other Latin American writers before him, locates Cuban identity and, along with it, Cuban modernity within the dialectic of civilization and barbarism.
He begins by sketching out the large historical context into which he will insert his own observations, and within which he can place and develop his look at Afro- Cuban culture, choosing to begin with a description of the various racial and ethnic elements that make up the Cuban underworld and distinguish it from its European counterparts.
He sketches the historical develop- ment of Cuban society from a racial perspective, from the first Spanish colonizers to the present day. In this way, anthropological factors combined with social factors to determine the characteris- tics of Cuban criminal life. What stands out in this statement, however, is the centrality of Cuba; the island as a space of encounter seems to take precedence over cultural or racial attributes in shaping Cuban criminal society.
By narrating the historical origins of Cuban underworld cul- ture, Ortiz highlights the way in which Cuban culture is interconnected to other cultures, again reinforcing that an interest in his study should extend beyond a Cuban readership.
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A dense stew of civilization bubbling on the Caribbean hearth. In the first chapter of Los negros brujos, Ortiz has not yet made the full shift from talking about race to talking about culture, but he takes pains to ensure that his readers will remain aware of the nature of Cuban cul- ture as a whole, even as they read about certain of the more sensational aspects of one of its parts.
He points out that one reason for choosing to focus his study on Afro-Cuban crime is that Afro-Cuban culture has given the Cuban underworld some of its most distinguishing characteristics: The first chapter of Los negros brujos thus focuses on Cuba as a site of racial mixing and cultural encounter. Cuba is the stewpot, the meta- phorical site of this process. Africa is a point of origin and will also serve as a point of comparison throughout his study , and Ortiz presents fetishism in Cuba as having followed a historical trajectory marked by both slavery and the trans-Atlantic journey.
It is thus a practice that has survived both the influences of other cultural and religious expressions, and the forces of historical circumstance: Even if time and hardship have failed to alter its practices, Ortiz locates the arrival of fetishism in Cuba within a historical narrative. Its origins are not only in another continent, but also in another time. In his description of fetishism, however, Ortiz does something slightly different. He identifies the religious practices as primitive by virtue of their temporal isolation and failure to adapt and progress , while presenting Cuba as a unique space distant from the ori- gins of those practices, where Afro-Cubans may implicitly progress.
The distinction between people and practices allows Ortiz to uphold a posi- tivist vision of progress for Cuban society while describing a people who are other within the nation. Despite his insistence on the uniqueness of the social, historical, and cultural factors that have helped to make Cuban society what it is, Ortiz portrays Cuban culture—and Afro-Cuban culture in particular—as intel- ligible primarily when viewed through other cultures, both African and European. In describing the individual orichas Afro-Cuban gods , for example, we learn not only about the na- ture of these deities within Cuba, but also the equivalent saints of each oricha in Brazil.
Ortiz takes many of the origin myths of the orichas from A.
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His comparative ap- proach locates the genesis of Afro-Cuban religion within a narrative of world history and cultural development, but it also makes his enterprise a doubly translative one, since many of the conclusions that he draws about the practices of Afro-Cubans are in fact speculations about the Cuban context based on the observations of scholars working in different cul- tural environments, no matter what their similarities.
Beyond this narrative of cultural origins, Ortiz approaches Afro-Cuban religious tradition as a system of practices, and he proceeds to explain the system by describing the relationship of its parts to each other and to the whole. Once he has described how the religion came to be, he moves on to a basic discussion of each of the orichas, their relationship to each other, and the rituals and ritual objects associated with each one.
Like someone attempting to record the grammar of a language, he is concerned with the accuracy of detail, since each detail will relate to the whole in a specific way. This historical- comparativist narrative is also at odds with other, more intimate scenes in the text that return us to the particularities of the Cuban environment. Moments of intense description, literary in both their creative use of language and the subjective perception they display, surface suddenly, seeming to burst through the developmental trajectory he wishes to es- tablish.
Take, for example, this description of dancing during religious ceremonies: Having arrived at this moment, the dancers give themselves up to the sexual irritation, the rhythm, the music, the dancing, etc. In Los negros brujos this is in part a result of the fact that Ortiz had done very little of his own research, yet if we look at his later texts, written after Ortiz had had ample opportunity to inter- view informants, the same tone and textual persona can be observed.
While Los negros brujos alternates principally between historical over- view and descriptions of the kind discussed above, there are in fact sev- eral secondary narratives that run through the text: As a result, the reader is left with very little to help him or her interpret the stories that may be behind these arrests. In sketching out a clear discussion of the origins of Afro-Cuban religion and faithfully detailing both oral literature and material artifacts, Ortiz seems to feel that he is giving as clear as possible a presentation of these cultural prac- tices.
But both his descriptions and these newspaper articles point to how much remains unsaid, and imply the wealth of stories, beliefs, and experi- ences that are waiting to be interpreted. Ortiz introduces this neologism as a new way to accurately explain the processes of cultural exchange, adaptation, and synthesis that happen in an encounter between two cultures.
Now, instead of a stew, we get a detailed accounting of the various stages and kinds of mix- ing, as transculturation highlights the process—the action—rather than the resulting product. As a concept, transculturation indicates the probable op- erations in a cultural encounter, but not the possible outcomes. Ortiz begins by establishing what appears to be a series of dichoto- mies: Yet these contrasts and separations begin to give way to gray areas, as these qualities seem to mix, change, and double back on one another: El tabaco no cambia de color, nace moreno y muere con el color de su raza.
Tobacco does not change its color; it is born dark and dies the color of its race. Sugar changes its coloring; it is born brown and whitens itself; at first it is a syrupy mulatto [who, being dark, abandons itself to] the common taste; then it [bleaches and refines itself] until it can pass for white, travel all over the world, reach all mouths and [be paid more]. How- ever, even this metaphorical dichotomy does not last. Yet by this point, he has already staged a kind of literary, metaphorical demon- stration of the ways in which transculturation operates through his de- scription of the changes in the production and consumption of tobacco and sugar.
Yet the Contrapunteo also shares many aspects of its approach and structure with Los negros brujos. Both texts begin by emphasizing a historical narrative, and by sketching a broad panorama, before moving on to detail the specificities of particular aspects of material culture.
By focusing on the ways in which material products can travel and change, Ortiz avoids a direct discussion of racial miscegenation, of saying what happens to racially identified groups of people. Only when he finally comes around to detailing transculturation does he give another brief narrative of the various racial and ethnic encounters at different moments in Cuban history. A Second Introduction In the same year that he published the Contrapunteo, Ortiz found him- self writing the introduction to a different kind of presentation of Afro- Cuban culture.
The Havana edition included an introduction penned by Ortiz, who took credit for some of her interest in Afro-Cuban culture. Few examples of black folklore had been published prior to Cuentos negros, none intended for a mainstream audience. We know of none that have been published as such in this country. By when Cabrera published El Monte, the study of Afro-Cuban culture occupied a more central and, to a certain extent, more accepted position in both the academic and the national imaginary, even if Afro- Cubans themselves were still socially and politically marginalized.
Thanks in large part to the work of Ortiz, articles dealing with Afro-Cuban topics regularly appeared in Estudios Afrocubanos, Revista Bimestre Cubana, and other scholarly journals. The study of Afro-Cuban culture could also be linked to a larger corpus of work on the African Diaspora in the Ameri- cas. Images of Afro-Cubans and Afro-Cuban culture were more numer- ous and more varied.
At the same time, the debates over the nature of Afro-Cuban religious culture, and the role and place of Afro-Cubans in Cuban society, were far from resolved. It is interesting to observe, however, that whereas Ortiz used his preface to explain the value that could be found in studying Afro-Cuban practices, what Cabrera is actually doing in these first pages is detailing her methodology.
Writing several decades after Ortiz, Cabrera does not feel a need to justify her subject. What she does want to explain is the genesis of her text, in terms of both her own motivation and the factors that contributed to its form. While Ortiz hints at attending rituals, it is never clear from his texts how he has acquired information from primary sources. In these first paragraphs, Cabrera is clear about how she has chosen to deal with the ambiguities naturally present in gathering material from informants: The reference to generational conflict also presents the culture as living and changing, in contrast to the view espoused by earlier ethnographers that primitive cultures were largely static.
In tackling much the same mate- rial forty years later, Cabrera approaches the material in El Monte in an entirely different way. Rather than working from the outside in, she be- gins her study by moving in precisely the opposite direction, placing her reader directly at the most vital site of Afro-Cuban religious practice: Persiste en el negro cubano, con tenacidad asombrosa, la creencia en la espiritualidad del monte.
As in the jungles of Africa, there live in the forests and thickets of Cuba the same ancestral deities, the same powerful spirits that still today, as in the days of the slave trade, he most fears and venerates, and on whose hostility or benevolence his successes and failures continue to depend. In beginning a book about el Monte which operates as the bush, the accumulation of religious knowledge that these places repre- sent, and the powerful magical and medicinal plants found there , she places the reader in el Monte, as if making him or her an active witness to a ritual.
The reader may not yet have a clear idea of just exactly what el Monte represents, but from these first lines he or she gains a clear idea of the strong significance of this space for Afro-Cubans. One cannot hope to know el Monte by talk- ing around it; one must go there, enter into it, in order to understand it. So after briefly showing us what we are about to enter, the second paragraph actually stages a physical entrance into el Monte: Ortiz talks about the ways in which African religious practices have been adapted within a Cu- ban environment, but Cabrera takes us to the site of religious power itself.
Rather, the performative, experiential elements of the text alternate with the discursive. As the text itself states, it is only after moving in the shadowland of the forest for a little while that we are gradually able to pick out elements and forms: She identifies the black man as able to read the signs of this magical environment, a space whose power she does not attempt to explain away. Structurally, her text offers itself to the oricha of the crossroads, so that the other chapters of the study can follow. Although there are moral and ethical judgments expressed at various points in both her short sto- ries and the informant narratives of her ethnography, she herself rarely expresses an explicitly moral opinion on what she describes.
She is able to present Afro-Cuban religious tradition as a system with its own internal coherence precisely because she makes no overarching moral judgments. She states at one point: La moral circunstancial de nuestros paleros y santeros y la de su numerosa clientela, es el reflejo de un concepto natural de la vida que no han perdido nuestros negros. The circumstantial morality of our paleros and sante- ros and that of their numerous clientele is the reflection of a natural concept of life that our blacks have not lost. Note, however, that her observation above about morality indicates that Afro-Cuban practice is a clearly delimited space, legitimate in its own right, but by no means constitutive of morality or society in a more general way.
Cabrera seems less concerned that the reader come away with a com- plete understanding of Afro-Cuban religious practice after a reading of her work than that the reader get a sense of its integrity as a cultural sys- tem. One of the central messages that Cabrera demonstrates in her text is that integration is not the issue; these beliefs already exist in a well- integrated way within Cuban society.