LING ANTH: Dr. Kristina Wirtz, Western Michigan University
Thursday, March 30, 2017
Haury Room 216
Title: Death and Spirit-Chronotopes in Revolutionary Cuba and the African Diaspora
Abstract: How does calling upon spirits impact the workings of the historical imagination in Cuba? And how might widespread Cuban historicizing practices that recognize the immanence of the dead inform our understanding of commemorative practices and the sometimes uncanny, sometimes inspiring, and sometimes painful experiences of co-present heroes and martyrs more generally in the African Diaspora? Drawing on ethnographic material from almost twenty years of fieldwork in Santiago de Cuba, and taking inspiration from the late Cuban historian Joel James Figarola’s intriguing study, La Muerte en Cuba, I pursue the political import of spirit-chronotopes that sensitize the living to the dead. In developing the dead as necessary co-presences, sources of advice, and subjects of devotion, what several apparently distinct religious, racializing, and revolutionary projects have in common are chronotopic techniques for cultivating a passionate and embodied moral imagination in order to advance spiritual and political conscientization.