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Governing Spirits
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Freedom of religion did not come easily to Cuba or Puerto Rico. Only after the arrival of American troops during the Spanish-American War were non-Catholics permitted to practice their religions openly and to proselytize. When government efforts to ensure freedom of worship began, reformers on both islands rejoiced, believing that an era of regeneration and modernization was upon them. But as new laws went into effect, critics voiced their dismay at the rise of popular religions. Reinaldo L. Román explores the changing relationship between regulators and practitioners in neocolonial Cuba and Puerto Rico. Spiritism, Santería, and other African-derived traditions were typically characterized in sensational fashion by the popular press as "a plague of superstition." Examining seven episodes between 1898 and the Cuban Revolution when the public demanded official actions against "misbelief," Román finds that when outbreaks of superstition were debated, matters of citizenship were usually at stake. He links the circulation of spectacular charges of witchcraft and miracle-making to anxieties surrounding newly expanded citizenries that included people of color. ###Governing Spirits# also contributes to the understanding of vernacular religions by moving beyond questions of national or traditional origins to illuminate how boundaries among hybrid practices evolved in a process of historical contingencies. Román explores the relationship between the post-colonial Caribbean and popular religion in Cuba and Puerto Rico between 1898 and the Cuban Revolution. The secularizing trends that permitted freedom of religion did not come to Cuba and Puerto Rico until the arrival of American troops during the Spanish-American War. Almost immediately, however, opposition arose to the open practice of non-Catholic, African-derived practices like Spiritism and Santería, which were characterized by the media as “a plague of superstition.” This secularizing trend thus became a lightning rod for anxieties surrounding a newly expanded citizenry, which now included people of color. Examining seven episodes between 1898 and the Cuban Revolution when the public demanded offical actions against “misbelief,” Roman finds that when outbreaks of superstition were debated, matters of citizenship were usually at stake. Freedom of religion did not come easily to Cuba or Puerto Rico. Only after the arrival of American troops during the Spanish-American War were non-Catholics permitted to practice their religions openly and to proselytize. When government efforts to ensure freedom of worship began, reformers on both islands rejoiced, believing that an era of regeneration and modernization was upon them. But as new laws went into effect, critics voiced their dismay at the rise of popular religions. Reinaldo L. Román explores the changing relationship between regulators and practitioners in neocolonial Cuba and Puerto Rico. Freedom of religion did not come easily to Cuba or Puerto Rico. Only after the arrival of American troops during the Spanish-American War were non-Catholics permitted to practice their religions openly and to proselytize. When government efforts to ensure freedom of worship began, reformers on both islands rejoiced, believing that an era of regeneration and modernization was upon them. But as new laws went into effect, critics voiced their dismay at the rise of popular religions. Reinaldo L. Román explores the changing relationship between regulators and practitioners in neocolonial Cuba and Puerto Rico. Spiritism, Santería, and other African-derived traditions were typically characterized in sensational fashion by the popular press as "a plague of superstition." Examining seven episodes between 1898 and the Cuban Revolution when the public demanded official actions against "misbelief," Román finds that when outbreaks of superstition were debated, matters of citizenship were usually at stake. He links the circulation of spectacular charges of witchcraft and miracle-making to anxieties surrounding newly expanded citizenries that included people of color. ###Governing Spirits# also contributes to the understanding of vernacular religions by moving beyond questions of national or traditional origins to illuminate how boundaries among hybrid practices evolved in a process of historical contingencies.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. pp. 1-1
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  1. Title Page, Copyright
  2. pp. 2-7
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  1. Contents, Illustrations
  2. pp. vii-x
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. xi-xii
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  1. Introduction
  2. pp. 1-22
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  1. 1. Governing Man-Gods in Cuba: Hilario Mustelier and Juan Manso
  2. pp. 23-50
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  1. 2. Governing Saints in Puerto Rico: Elenita and the Hermanos Cheos
  2. pp. 51-81
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  1. 3. Governing Witchcraft: Journalists and Brujos in Republican Cuba
  2. pp. 82-106
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  1. 4. Self-Governing Spirits: La Samaritana and Puerto Rico’s Espiriteros
  2. pp. 107-129
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  1. 5. Managing Miracles in Batista’s Cuba: La Estigmatizada and Clavelito
  2. pp. 130-159
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  1. 6. Managing Miracles in the Commonwealth: The Virgin Visits Sabana Grande
  2. pp. 160-193
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  1. Epilogue. The Chupacabras: Discourses and Social Action
  2. pp. 194-214
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 215-244
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  1. Bibliography
  2. pp. 245-262
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 263-273
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