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Revise Ofrendas
ISBN 0-226-07609-1 Paper
by David H. Brown, Ph.D.
University of Chicago Press
November, 2003; 440 pages; 8 ½ x 9 ¼ inches
27 color plates, 114 halftones

Pid: 594

Ever since its emergence in colonial-era Cuba, Afro-Cuban Santería (or Lucumí) has displayed a complex dynamic of continuity and change in its institutions, rituals, and iconography. In Santería Enthroned, David H. Brown combines art history, cultural anthropology, and ethnohistory to show how Africans and their descendants have developed novel forms in the face of relentless oppression.

Focusing on the royal throne as a potent metaphor in Santería belief and practice, Brown shows how negotiation among ideologically competing interests have shaped the religion's symbols, rituals, and institutions from the nineteenth century to the present. Rich case studies of change in Cuba and the United States, including a New Jersey temple and South Carolina's Oyotunji Village, reveal patterns of innovation similar to those found among rival Yoruba kingdoms in Nigeria. Throughout, Brown argues for a theoretical perspective on culture as a field of potential strategies and "usable pasts" that actors draw upon to craft new forms and identities-a perspective that will be invaluable to all students of the African Diaspora.

David H. Brown is a nonresident fellow at the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard University and founder and manager of Folkcuba.com, L.L.C. He is the author of The Light Inside: Abakuá Society Arts and Modern Cuban Culture.

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