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Gender, Sexuality, and Creativity in the Latina/o and Afro-Atlantic Diasporas

Solimar Otero, Toyin Falola

Publication Year: 2013

Bridges theory, art, and practice to discuss emerging issues in transnational religious movements in Latina/o and African diasporas.

Published by: State University of New York Press


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pp. C-C

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

illustrations and other media

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pp. ix-xii


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pp. xiii-xiv

Note on Terminology and Orthography

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pp. xv-xvi

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pp. xvii-xxxii

In the above quotes, poet Audre Lorde and folklorist Lydia Cabrera write about Yemoja as an eternal mother whose womb, like water, makes life possible. They also relate in their works the shifting and fluid nature of Yemoja and the divinity in her manifestations and in the lives of her devotees. This book, ...

Part 1 Yemoja, Gender, and Sexuality


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pp. 2-8

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Chapter 1 Nobody’s Mammy

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pp. 9-42

In the writing on Afro-Cuban religions, Yemayá has been approached as both the prototype for and the deified paragon of maternal love. According to most accounts, not only does Yemayá birth fellow orishas and raise the divine twins, the Ibeyi, as her adopted children, but she also features prominently in the mythology of her son, Changó. Dozens of ...

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Chapter 2 Yemayá’s Duck

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pp. 43-84

The ethnographer is a writer who composes nonfiction prose, a process that James Clifford and George Marcus describe as the convergence of the poetic and the political.2 The politics of the poetic links and fixes discursive momentums, competing ambiguous meanings that...

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Chapter 3 Yemayá y Ochún

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pp. 85-112

The above quotes by Cabrera and Quiroga serve as useful points of entry to consider the queer nature of the performance of spiritual identities in the contexts of Afro-Cuban religious cultures. They relate how representations of Afro-Cuban religion can occur in contexts where the order of the binary is subverted by their performance. In this piece, I want ...

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Chapter 4 A Different Kind of Sweetness

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pp. 113-130

Yemayá is the regal matriarch: the sovereign mother, whose dignity transcends all human afflictions. It is this queenly resplendence that commands the respect of all orishas. She is the supreme head of the Ìyáàmi/Àje and of the Gẹ̀lẹ̀dé and Efe masquerading traditions. She is the bringer of children and the great monarch sought out for fecundity...

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Chapter 5 Yemoja

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pp. 131-150

Yemoja is a river and ocean goddess of the òrìsà spiritual tradition practiced by the Yorùbá of West Africa and their descendants across the Atlantic. Once deconstructed, her name in Yorùbá means “Mother of Fish.”1 Worshipers also call her by other names, all derivatives of Yemoja2— Yemaja,3 Yemonja,4 and Yemanja5 in West Africa and the Americas;...

Part 2 Yemoja’s Aesthetics

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Chapter 6 “Yemaya Blew That Wire Fence Down”

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pp. 153-186

As Gloria Anzaldúa interrogates Chicana/o sociopolitical histories in the essays and poems that constitute her foundational work, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, she makes explicit references to West African diasporic spirit-practices.3 In the above excerpt, she invokes the Yoruba female orisha of the salt waters, Yemayá, as the resistant elemental force ...

Image Plates

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pp. PS1-PS8

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Chapter 7 Dancing Aché with Yemaya in My Life and in My Art

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pp. 187-196

As a child growing up in the Republic of Panama, my mother encouraged me to pray to the Virgin Mary whenever I felt that I was in need of divine intervention. Her logic was that as the Mother of God Mary had special privileges and could intervene on my behalf with her divine son. My mother reasoned that this was akin to having a good friend in...

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Chapter 8 What the Water Brings and Takes Away

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pp. 197-214

Cubans have an intimate, loving, and troubled relationship with the sea. As an island, we have little choice except to know it, embrace it, and reckon with it. The ocean has been a constant inspiration for romantic poets and a grim historical warning as an aquatic graveyard during the Middle Passage and, more recently, for rafters traversing the Florida ...

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Chapter 9 “The Sea Never Dies”: Yemoja

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pp. 215-266

The most versatile element, the elemental force, the essential source of all life is water, and the Mother of all of the waters of this world is Yemoja. So important a God is she, Yemoja boasts the oríkì Yewájobí, which means Mother of All of the Gods and of All Living Things.1 There are no Gods without the Mother. There is no life without the Mother....

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Chapter 10 A Sonic Portrait with Photos of Salvador’s Iemanjá Festival

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pp. 267-274

This is a multimedia work. To engage it, please log on to http://www. bluethroatproductions.com/iemanja/.
Here in Bahia, they say that the shimmering trail of moonlight reflecting off the Bay of All Saints is the hair of Iemanjá. We find her represented in the form of a mermaid and also as something more akin...

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Chapter 11 Yemayá Offering a Pearl of Wisdom

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pp. 275-278

I am an eclectic pagan who has loved mermaids since I was a small child and have informally studied mermaid folk art since that time. When I was in the initiation process to become a Bloodroot Honey high priestess for CAYA Coven in Berkeley, California, I had to devote three months to a mother goddess to get in touch with the divine mother within. Since ...

Notes on Contributors

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pp. 279-284


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pp. 285-BC

E-ISBN-13: 9781438448015
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438447995

Page Count: 336
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 862746136
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Yemoja

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Yemaja (Yoruba deity).
  • Mother goddesses.
  • Afro-Caribbean cults.
  • Cultural fusion and the arts.
  • African diaspora in art.
  • Goddesses in art.
  • Orishas in art.
  • Sex in art.
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