Afro-Cuban Religious ArtsPopular Expressions of Cultural Inheritance in Espiritismo and Santería

Afro-Cuban Religious ArtsPopular Expressions of Cultural Inheritance in Espiritismo and Santería

Kristine Juncker

Print publication date: 2015

ISBN: 9780813049700

Publisher: University Press of Florida

Abstract

Afro-Cuban Religious Arts traces the religious art created by four generations of Afro-Caribbean women from Havana, Cuba, to Spanish Harlem, New York, from 1899 to 1969. Through an examination of archives featuring photographs, notes, and surviving altar fragments belonging to Tiburcia Sotolongo y Ugarte, Hortensia Ferrer, Iluminada Sierra Ortiz, and Carmen Oramas Caballery, a history of women’s leadership roles within Afro-Cuban religious arts practices emerges. To this end, their work reveals the critical interaction between the arts of different Afro-Caribbean belief systems, particularly Espiritismo and Santería. With careful documentation of this work, these leaders created an impressive account of hybrid cultural identities that references African, native Caribe, and European cultural inheritances. This exploration of Caribbean Creole identity prompted critical dialogue among their audiences during highly turbulent social and political changes of the twentieth century. Such popular discourse proves to be exemplary of the dynamic exchange of histories that led to the explosion of African diasporic religious arts throughout the Americas and beyond.