Assemblage Making, Materiality, and Self in Cuban Palo Monte

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  • 1 Pontifical Catholic University of Chile gimmefish@yahoo.com
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Abstract

In this article I use my ethnographic data on an Afro-Cuban religion called Palo Monte to argue that ontologically discrepant ‘bits’ of the cosmos can become stuck together for particular purposes, at times producing ‘synchronicities’. I argue that the practitioners of this religion, Paleros, can be trained into producing synchronicities in the form of witchcraft. This coheres with a concept of self that can be seen as an assemblage rather than an essence. This article contributes to a person centered theory of plasticity in relation to discussions on lenience. In Palo, discipline does not lie in molding one’s subjectivity or in searching for a deep self. Lenience is imperative as the principle with which the self articulates with its environment and itself.

Contributor Notes

Diana Espírito Santo has worked on Afro-Cuban spirit mediumship for her doctoral research and on Afro-Brazilian religion for her postdoctoral research. She has focused primarily on concepts of the person and knowledge, but also on cosmological plasticity and creativity. She has authored many articles, co-edited three volumes, including The Social Life of Spirits (2013, with Ruy Blanes), and published a monograph on Cuban spiritism titled Developing the Dead: Mediumship and Selfhood in Cuban Espiritismo (2015). She is currently working on a project about ontologies of evidence in Chilean and Argentinian parapsychology. E-mail: gimmefish@yahoo.com

Social Analysis

The International Journal of Anthropology

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