Cover image for Living Santería : rituals and experiences in an Afro-Cuban religion
Title:
Living Santería : rituals and experiences in an Afro-Cuban religion
Author:
Mason, Michael Atwood.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Washington : Smithsonian Institution Press, [2002]

©2002
Physical Description:
ix, 165 pages ; 24 cm
Language:
English
Subject Term:
Electronic Access:
Table of contents http://www.loc.gov/catdir/toc/fy035/2002021016.html
ISBN:
9781588340528

9781588340771
Format :
Book

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BL2532.S3 M27 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Summary

Summary

In 1992 Smithsonian anthropologist Michael Atwood Mason traveled to Cuba for initiation as a priest into the Santer'a religion. Since then he has created an active oricha house and has initiated five others as priests. He is a rare combination: a scholar-practitioner who is equally fluent in his profession and his religion. Interweaving his roles as researcher and priest, he explores Santer'a as a contemporary phenomenon and offers an understanding of its complexity through his own experiences and those of its many practitioners.


Summary

In 1992 Smithsonian anthropologist Michael Atwood Mason traveled to Cuba for initiation as a priest into the Santería religion. Since then he has created an active oricha "house" and has initiated five others as priests. He is a rare combination: a scholar-practitioner who is equally fluent in his profession and his religion. Interweaving his roles as researcher and priest, Mason explores Santería as a contemporary phenomenon and offers an understanding of its complexity through his own experiences and those of its many practitioners. Balancing deftly between a devotee's account of participation and an anthropologist's theoretical analysis, Living Santería offers an original and insightful understanding of this growing religious tradition.


Author Notes

Michael Atwood Mason is an anthropologist and exhibit developer at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, where he was a co-curator of the permanent African Voices exhibition.


Reviews 1

Choice Review

Mason's objective is to document and explain shifts in the construction of subjectivity "as an individual deepens social relationships with the spirits and elders" in the Afro-Cuban religion known as Santeria. His dual role as anthropologist (Smithsonian Institution) and formally initiated Santeria priest allows him to offer a richness of detail and level of understanding achieved only through years of participant observation. Mason describes divinations, animal sacrifice, Santeria artifacts and symbols, and Lucumi (the Yoruba-based liturgical language used in Santeria), as well as the mental states that they evoke. The author's dual status as practitioner and observer creates tensions and conflicting responsibilities that he confronts head-on, making the book a useful case study in doing ethnography. But Mason's focus on the subjective means that he deals only in the most cursory fashion with the social context in which Santeria has evolved. Those interested in the Castro regime's changing policies toward religion, legal challenges to animal sacrifice in the US, or the practice of Santeria by other Latin immigrant groups, for example, will have to look elsewhere. The text is nicely supplemented by an extensive glossary of Spanish and Lucumi terms. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. M. A. Olshan Alfred University