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Diana Espírito Santo

In this article, I explore how the cosmologies of two popular spirit possession cults—Espiritismo in Cuba and Umbanda in Brazil—exhibit forms of recursivity and self-reflexivity. Taking my cue from Don Handelman’s notion that the cosmos often contains its own logic of self-becoming, I argue that in these ethnographic cases, recursivity results from the interplay between, on the one hand, the spirits’ expression of their autonomy from living beings and, on the other, the spirits’ contingency for their effectiveness on human belief, representation, perception, and action. In Espiritismo and Umbanda, spirits intervene in human affairs unpredictably, throwing new light on anthropological and native conceptualizations of reflexivity.

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Diana Espirito Santo, Arnaud Halloy, Pierre Liénard and Emma Cohen

Around The Mind Possessed: The Cognition of Spirit Possession in an Afro-Brazilian Religious Tradition by Emma Cohen.

Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007, ix + 241 pages.

Comments by Diana Espirito Santo

Comments by Arnaud Halloy

Comments by Pierre Liénard

Response to Comments by Emma Cohen

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Keith Egan, Matias Thaler, Anna Fedele, Maarit Forde, Tuomas Martikainen, Kim Knibbe, Maria M. Griera, Katerina Seraidari, José Mapril, Roger Canals, Diana Espirito Santo, Titus Hjelm, Vlad Naumescu, Vânia Zikán Cardoso, Mathieu Fribault, Rebecca Prentice, Ryan Schram, Jacqueline Ryle, Alexandre Surrallés, James S. Bielo, César Ceriani Cernadas and Maïté Maskens


BENTLEY, Alex (ed.), The Edge of Reason? Science and Religion in Modern Society

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BERGER, Peter, Grace DAVIE, and Effie FOKAS (eds.), Religious America, Secular Europe? A Theme and Variations

LEVEY, Geoffrey Brahm and Tariq Modood, Secularism, Religion and Multicultural Citizenship

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FAVRET-SAADA, Jeanne, Désorceler

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GUADELOUPE, Francio, Chanting Down the New Jerusalem: Calypso, Christianity, and Capitalism in the Caribbean

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HACKETT, Rosalind (ed.), Proselytization Revisited: Rights Talk, Free Markets and Culture Wars

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JACKSON, Michael, The Palm at the End of the Mind: Relatedness, Religiosity and the Real

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KIRSCH, Thomas G. and Bertram TURNER (eds.), Permutations of Order: Religion and Law as Contested Sovereignties

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MAHIEU, Stéphanie and Vlad NAUMESCU (eds.), Churches In-Between: Greek Catholic Churches in Postsocialist Europe

Katerina Seraidari

MARRANCI, Gabriele, The Anthropology of Islam

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MEYER, Birgit (ed.), Aesthetic Formations: Media, Religion and the Senses

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PALMIÉ, Stephan (ed.), Africas of the Americas: Beyond the Search for Origins in the Study of Afro-Atlantic Religions

Diana Espirito Santo

PETERSEN, Jesper Aagaard (ed.), Contemporary Religious Satanism: A Critical Anthology

Titus Hjelm

PINE, Frances and João PINA-CABRAL (eds.), On the Margins of Religion

Vlad Naumescu

PINXTEN, Rik and Lisa DIKOMITIS (eds.), When God Comes to Town: Religious Traditions in Urban Contexts

Vânia Zikán Cardoso

SARRÓ, Ramon, The Politics of Religious Change on the Upper Guinea Coast: Iconoclasm Done and Undone

Mathieu Fribault

SCHMIDT, Bettina E., Caribbean Diaspora in the USA: Diversity of Caribbean Religions in New York City

Rebecca Prentice

STEWART, Pamela J. and Andrew STRATHERN (eds.), Religious and Ritual Change: Cosmologies and Histories

Ryan Schram

TOMLINSON, Matt, In God’s Image: The Metaculture of Fijian Christianity

Jacqueline Ryle

TREMLETT, Paul-François, Lévi-Strauss on Religion: The Structuring Mind

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VILAÇA, Aparecida and Robin M. WRIGHT (eds.), Native Christians: Modes and Effects of Christianity among Indigenous Peoples of the Americas

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CANALS, Roger (dir.), The Many Faces of a Venezuelan Goddess

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MOTTIER, Damien (dir.), Prophéte(s), Les Films de la Jetée

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Galina Oustinova-Stjepanovic, Joana Bahia, Luiz Costa, Jonathan Mair, Dolores P. Martinez, Stephan Feuchtwang, Irvine Richard, Stephen D. Glazier, Diana Espirito Santo, Simion Pop, William Dawley, Emily B. Baran, Richard Baxstrom, Anastasios Panagiotopoulos, Mette High, Amy Whitehead, Sindre Bangstad, Thomas G. Kirsch and Ruy Llera Blanes


BUBANDT, Nils, and Martijn VAN BEEK, eds., Varieties of Secularism in Asia: Anthropological Explorations of Religion, Politics and the Spiritual

Galina Oustinova-Stjepanovic

CAPONE, Stefania, Searching for Africa in Brazil: Power and Tradition in Candomblé

Joana Bahia

COURSE, Magnus, Becoming Mapuche: Person and Ritual in Indigenous Chile

Luiz Costa

DAY, Abby, Believing in Belonging: Belief and Social Identity in the Modern World

Jonathan Mair

ENDRES, Kirsten W., Performing the Divine: Mediums, Markets and Modernity in Urban Vietnam

Dolores P. Martinez

FJELSTAD, Karen, and Nguyen THI HIEN, Spirits without Borders: Vietnamese Spirit Mediums in a Transnational Age

Stephan Feuchtwang

GEERTZ, Armin W., and Jappe Sinding JENSEN, eds., Religious Narrative, Cognition and Culture: Image and Word in the Mind of Narrative

Richard Irvine

GRIFFITH, Ezra E. H., Ye Shall Dream: Patriarch Granville Williams and the Barbados Spiritual Baptists

Stephen D. Glazier

HAYES, Kelly E., Holy Harlots: Femininity, Sexuality, and Black Magic in Brazil

Diana Espirito Santo

KAPFERER, Bruce, Kari TELLE, and Annelin ERIKSEN, eds., Contemporary Religiosities: Emergent Socialities and the Post-Nation-State

Simion Pop

LINDHARDT, Martin, ed., Practicing the Faith: The Ritual Life of Pentecostal-Charismatic Christians

William Dawley

LUEHRMANN, Sonja, Secularism Soviet Style: Teaching Atheism and Religion in a Volga Republic

Emily B. Baran

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Richard Baxstrom

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Amy Whitehead

WARNER, Michael, Jonathan VANANTWERPEN, and Craig CALHOUN, eds., Varieties of Secularism in a Secular Age

Sindre Bangstad

WERBNER, Richard, Holy Hustlers, Schism, and Prophecy: Apostolic Reformation in Botswana

Thomas G. Kirsch


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