Aisha Beliso-De Jesús
"New Directions in Religion and Anthropology: Electric Santería"
Monday, October 19, 2015
deCerteau Room (LIT 155), Department of Literature
Voigt Drive at Matthews Lane, UC San Diego
La Jolla, CA 92093
Free. Open to the public. No ticketing/registration.
Santería is an African-inspired, Cuban diaspora religion long stigmatized as witchcraft and often dismissed as superstition, yet its spirit- and possession-based practices are rapidly winning adherents across the world. Dr. Beliso-De Jesús introduces the term "copresence" to capture the current transnational experience of Santería, in which racialized and gendered spirits, deities, priests, and religious travelers remake local, national, and political boundaries and reconfigure notions of technology and transnationalism. Drawing on eight years of ethnographic research in Havana and Matanzas, Cuba, and in New York City, Miami, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay area, Beliso-De Jesús traces the phenomenon of copresence in the lives of Santería practitioners, mapping its emergence in transnational places and historical moments and its ritual negotiation of race, imperialism, gender, sexuality, and religious travel.
Aisha M. Beliso-De Jesús, PhD is Associate Professor of African American Religions at Harvard Divinity School. A cultural and social anthropologist, Dr. Beliso-De Jesús has conducted ethnographic research with Santería practitioners in Cuba and the United States since 2003. Her book, Electric Santería: Racial and Sexual Assemblages of Transnational Religion (Columbia University Press, 2015) details the transnational experience of Santería, in which racialized and gendered spirits, deities, priests, and religious travelers remake local, national, and political boundaries and actively reconfigure notions of technology and transnationalism. Her publications include articles in American Ethnologist, Cultural Anthropology, and Signs: A Journal of Women in Culture and Society. She is a member of the Cuba Policy Committee at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, an associate of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University, and a Ford Foundation Fellow.