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Cultural Newcomers to Lukumi and Santería in the United States
In the Afro-Cuban Lukumi religious tradition—more commonly known in the United States as Santería—entrants into the priesthood undergo an extraordinary fifty-three-week initiation period. During this time, these novices—called iyawo—endure a host of prohibitions, including most notably wearing exclusively white clothing. In A Year in White, sociologist C. Lynn Carr, who underwent this initiation herself, opens a window on this remarkable year-long religious transformation. In her intimate investigation of the “year in white,” Carr draws on fifty-two in-depth interviews with other participants, an online survey of nearly two hundred others, and almost a decade of her own ethnographic fieldwork, gathering stories that allow us to see how cultural newcomers and natives thought, felt, and acted with regard to their initiation. She documents how, during the iyawo year, the ritual slowly transforms the initiate’s identity. For the first three months, for instance, the iyawo may not use a mirror, even to shave, and must eat all meals while seated on a mat on the floor using only a spoon and their own set of dishes. During the entire year, the iyawo loses their name and is simply addressed as “iyawo” by family and friends. Carr also shows that this year-long religious ritual—which is carried out even as the iyawo goes about daily life—offers new insight into religion in general, suggesting that the sacred is not separable from the profane and indeed that religion shares an ongoing dynamic relationship with the realities of everyday life. Religious expression happens at home, on the streets, at work and school. Offering insight not only into Santería but also into religion more generally, A Year in White makes an important contribution to our understanding of complex, dynamic religious landscapes in multicultural, pluralist societies and how they inhabit our daily lives.
The Journal of a Hudson’s Bay Company Winterer
Anthony Henday, a young Hudson’s Bay Company employee, set out from York Factory in June 1754 to winter with “trading Indians” along the Saskatchewan River. He adapted willingly and easily to their way of life; he also kept a journal in which he described the plains region and took note of rival French traders’ success at their inland posts. A copy of Henday’s journal was immediately sent to the company directors in London. They rewarded Henday handsomely although they were uncertain where he had travelled, what groups he had met on the plains, and what success he had in opposing rival French traders. Since then, uncertainty about Henday’s year inland has increased. The original journal disappeared; only four copies, dating from 1755 to about 1782, are extant. Each text differs from the other three; the differences range from variant spellings to word choice to contradictory statements on vital questions. All four copies are the work of a company clerk, later factor, named Andrew Graham, who used them to support his own views on HBC trading policies. Twentieth-century scholars have based their claims for Henday’s importance as an explorer, trader and observer of Native cultures on a poorly edited transcript of the 1782 text. They have been unaware or careless of the journal’s textual ambiguity. A Year Inland presents all four copies for the first time, together with contextual notes and a commentary that reassesses the journal’s information on plains geography, people and trade.
Discovering Where We Live
The sharp-witted stories in Becky Adnot-Haynes' debut collection explore the secret lives of people--how they deal with the parts of themselves that they choose not to share with their closest confidants--and with the world. A pole-vaulter practices his sport only before dawn. A recently divorced woman signs up for a hallucinogenic drug excursion in the Arizona desert. An uncertain girlfriend goes out into the world wearing a false pregnancy belly. In The Year of Perfect Happiness, the universe is recognizable but slightly askew, a world whose corners can be peeled back to reveal the strange and often comic outcomes of acting out your most self-destructive desires. "In The Year of Perfect Happiness, Becky Adnot-Haynes puts her smart and funny prose to expert use, patiently delving the radiant mysteries we keep from strangers, from ourselves, from the people we love the most: Our joys and sorrows, our hidden hurts and unforgettable mistakes and untellable secrets, secrets which Adnot-Haynes' excellent stories suggest we want only to be forced to share, craving the moment when we're at last revealed in all our imperfect but stunning humanity."--Matt Bell, author of In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods and judge
Free People of Color in Cuba and the Nineteenth-Century Atlantic World
Michele Reid-Vazquez reveals the untold story of the strategies of negotiation used by free blacks in the aftermath of the “Year of the Lash”—a wave of repression in Cuba that had great implications for the Atlantic World in the next two decades.
At dawn on June 29, 1844, a firing squad in Havana executed ten accused ringleaders of the Conspiracy of La Escalera, an alleged plot to abolish slavery and colonial rule in Cuba. The condemned men represented prominent members of Cuba’s free community of African descent, including the acclaimed poet Plácido (Gabriel de la Concepción Valdés). In an effort to foster a white majority and curtail black rebellion, Spanish colonial authorities also banished, imprisoned, and exiled hundreds of free blacks, dismantled the militia of color, and accelerated white immigration projects.
Scholars have debated the existence of the Conspiracy of La Escalera for over a century, yet little is known about how those targeted by the violence responded. Drawing on archival material from Cuba, Mexico, Spain, and the United States, Reid-Vazquez provides a critical window into understanding how free people of color challenged colonial policies of terror and pursued justice on their own terms using formal and extralegal methods. Whether rooted in Cuba or cast into the Atlantic World, free men and women of African descent stretched and broke colonial expectations of their codes of conduct locally and in exile. Their actions underscored how black agency, albeit fragmented, worked to destabilize repression’s impact.
A Soldier's Diary and the Erasure of Palestine's Ottoman Past
Year of the Locust captures in page-turning detail the end of the Ottoman world and a pivotal moment in Palestinian history. In the diaries of Ihsan Hasan al-Turjman (1893–1917), the first ordinary recruit to describe World War I from the Arab side, we follow the misadventures of an Ottoman soldier stationed in Jerusalem. There he occupied himself by dreaming about his future and using family connections to avoid being sent to the Suez. His diaries draw a unique picture of daily life in the besieged city, bringing into sharp focus its communitarian alleys and obliterated neighborhoods, the ongoing political debates, and, most vividly, the voices from its streets—soldiers, peddlers, prostitutes, and vagabonds. Salim Tamari’s indispensable introduction places the diary in its local, regional, and imperial contexts while deftly revising conventional wisdom on the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire.
The year is 1984. The ruthless dictatorship envisioned by Orwell has not come to pass. Or has it? Under the presidency of former Hollywood actor Ronald Reagan, the war for America’s soul has begun—a struggle of conscience and idealism versus idolatry and political tyranny. Democracy is fading, and two young liberals in Washington are determined to restore it, no matter the cost.
In her second collection of poems, Lee Ann Roripaugh probes themes of mixed-race female identities, evoking the molting processes of snakes and insects who shed their skins and shells as an ongoing metaphor for transformation of self. Intertwining contemporary renditions of traditional Japanese myths and fairy tales with poems that explore the landscape of childhood and early adolescence, she blurs the boundaries between myth and memory, between real and imagined selves. This collection explores cultural, psychological, and physical liminalities and exposes the diasporic arc cast by first-generation Asian American mothers and their second-generation daughters, revealing a desire for metamorphosis of self through time, geography, culture, and myth.