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Nation Dance

Religion, Identity, and Cultural Difference in the Caribbean

Edited by Patrick Taylor

Publication Year: 2001

Nation Dance
Religion, Identity, and Cultural Difference in the Caribbean

Edited by Patrick Taylor

Addresses the interplay of diverse spiritual, religious, and cultural traditions across the Caribbean.

Dealing with the ongoing interaction of rich and diverse cultural traditions from Cuba and Jamaica to Guyana and Surinam, Nation Dance addresses some of the major contemporary issues in the study of Caribbean religion and identity. The book's three sections move from a focus on spirituality and healing, to theology in social and political context, and on to questions of identity and diaspora.

The book begins with the voices of female practitioners and then offers a broad, interdisciplinary examination of Caribbean religion and culture. Afro-Caribbean religions, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity are all addressed, with specific reflections on Santería, Palo Monte, Vodou, Winti, Obeah, Kali Mai, Orisha work, Spiritual Baptist faith, Spiritualism, Rastafari, Confucianism, Congregationalism, Pentecostalism, Catholicism, and liberation theology. Some essays are based on fieldwork, archival research, and textual or linguistic analysis, while others are concerned with methodological or theoretical issues. Contributors include practitioners and scholars, some very established in the field, others with fresh, new approaches; all of them come from the region or have done extensive fieldwork or research there. In these essays the poetic vitality of the practitioner's voice meets the attentive commitment of the postcolonial scholar in a dance of "nations" across the waters.

Patrick Taylor, Associate Professor in the Division of Humanities and in the Graduate Programme in Social and Political Thought at York University, Toronto, is past Deputy Director of the Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean and Editor-in-Chief of the Caribbean Religions Project. He is author of The Narrative of Liberation: Perspectives on Afro-Caribbean Literature, Popular Culture and Politics and co-editor of Forging Identities and Patterns of Development in Latin America and the Caribbean. His articles have appeared in Callaloo, Studies in Religion, and other scholarly journals and books.

May 2001
224 pages, 1 b&w photo, 1 map, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4, bibl., index
cloth 0-253-33835-2 $39.95 L /

Published by: Indiana University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. ix-xii

This book is the result of the ongoing work of the Caribbean Religions Project at the Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC) at York University. In conjunction with the Canadian Association for Latin America and Caribbean Studies (CALACS) Annual...

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Dancing the Nation: An Introduction

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pp. 1-16

In Paule Marshall’s Praisesong for the Widow, Papa Legba beckons the sterile imaginary of a homogenized middle class to open itself to the world in an ancestral dance into the future. Trickster, guardian of the crossroads, hermeneutical principle...

I: Spirituality, Healing, and the Divine

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1. Across the Waters: Practitioners Speak

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pp. 17-24

I am Eva Fernandez from Cuba. I’m going to speak humbly of things that may be small, but are very interesting. I am a 70-year-old woman, with six children, thirteen grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren. I am a millionaire. I have been able to attain this wealth, to bring up my family...

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2. How Shall We Sing the Lord’s Song in a Strange Land? Constructing the Divine in Caribbean Contexts

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pp. 25-31

My methodology in writing this chapter is to work inward, like an Antiguan patchwork, starting at the outside (which is constructed as a sociological problematic) and moving to the center, to the belly, to the place: the Caribbean. The problematic stated precisely is the following: the sociology...

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3. Communicating with Our Gods: The Language of Winti

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pp. 32-39

Until recent years,the language that Catholics (including a non-Latin-speaking community in the Caribbean) used to communicate with their God was Latin. It was the language used for Mass and chants. There never was any suggestion that the people in the Catholic churches were talking...

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4. The Intersemiotics of Obeah and Kali Mai in Guyana

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pp. 40-53

The notion of intersemiotics as discussed in this article has two primary written sources. Firstly, it is inspired by Abdelkebir Khatibi’s La Blessure du nom propre (1974) and it also takes into account Daniel Patte’s use of the term “intersemiocity” in his work on semiotics and faith (1982)...

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5. Religions of African Origin in Cuba: A Gender Perspective

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pp. 54-62

To tackle the issue of gender in the study of religion constitutes a challenge in Cuba today, given that the subject has not received much previous attention. Moreover, the topic is of interest because, in spite of the widespread legitimation of women’s rights in contemporary Cuba, such recognition has not necessarily translated into a widening of the scope of action...

II: Theology, Society, and Politics

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6. Sheba’s Song: The Bible, the Kebra Nagast, and the Rastafari

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pp. 65-78

I start this Caribbean story with a detour or diversion, as Edouard Glissant would call it, or rather a series of diversions, in the expectation of arriving at a point of entanglement in modernity referred to as creolization. My first detour is centered around the passionate poetry of two young lovers. The woman exclaims...

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7. Themes from West Indian Church History in Colonial and Post-colonial Times

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pp. 79-88

It is commonly believed that the history of the churches of the West Indies— and indeed of the western hemisphere in general—is basically an extension of European Christianity. This may be true in terms of the structure of ecclesiastical institutions, and when considered from narrow denominational standards. However, it is also true that the pattern of corporate Christian life...

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8. Congregationalism and Afro-Guianese Autonomy

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pp. 89-103

When Henry Kirke—sometime attorney general of British Guiana—described the colony’s Congregational ministers as obliged to “consult every sentiment and weakness of their flocks to attain their ends; jealousy, emulation, love of dress and display, [were] all appealed to, and not in vain,” he was not far wrong.1 In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Afro-Guianese congregations exploited the tenets of the British Guiana Congregational Union...

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9. Eden after Eve: Christian Fundamentalism and Women in Barbados

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pp. 104-117

Too often, Caribbean feminists and women’s activists, while recognizing the power of women in popular movements, have ignored the role of religion and Christian theology in women’s lives and the spirituality of their quotidian existence. In a formals ense, therefore, women’s organizations and feminist groups have been mainly concerned with the socio-economic...

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10. Current Evolution of Relations between Religion and Politics in Haiti

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pp. 118-125

Sociological research on religion and politics in Haiti usually takes into consideration only the Catholic Church because it is the most visible, best known, and dominant system of worship. However, Protestantism and Vodou are as important as Catholicism in the Haitian political field...

III: Theology, Society, and Politics

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pp. 126-128

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11. Jamaican Diasporic Identity: The Metaphor of Yaad

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pp. 129-137

To name is to summarize. It is to plot as onto a single point all the references of an identity. He, or she, who is without name is without summary, and therefore without reference, lost and confused, like Kamau Brathwaite, who describes his catastrophic experience of Hurricane...

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12. Identity, Personhood, and Religion in Caribbean Context

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pp. 138-152

One of the preoccupations of contemporary Caribbean literature is to define a postcolonial vision of the future with a social philosophy for people of the Caribbean region. Discourse for that purpose frequently employs the term “identity,” and more specifically the idiom “Caribbean identity...

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13. Sanfanco´ n: Orientalism, Self-Orientalization, and “Chinese Religion” in Cuba

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pp. 153-170

Chinese dreams are being dreamt in the island of Cuba. There are, on the one hand, those dreams indulged in by a Cuban political elite that is willing to introduce economic change without allowing for social and political change. These efforts in trying to keep a traditional power base intact are reminiscent of Deng Xiaoping’s precedent1 and should be understood...

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14. The Diasporic Mo(ve)ment: Indentureship and Indo-Caribbean Identity

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pp. 171-192

The argument of this chapter will unfold in four scenes. Each scene will lead into the next, and new concepts will be encountered within each scene. I think it necessary to follow my argument in this way if the many layers of the story I want to tell are to be appreciated...

Caribbean Religions: A Supplementary Bibliography

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pp. 193-206


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pp. 207-208


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pp. 209-220

E-ISBN-13: 9780253108586
E-ISBN-10: 0253108586
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253338358

Page Count: 232
Illustrations: 1 b&w photos, 1 maps, 1 bibliog., 1 index
Publication Year: 2001