Religion in a Changing World: Comparative Studies in Sociology

By Madeleine Cousineau | Go to book overview

community in the United States, especially in the urban North, provided an initial embrace of the religion as a survival of African heritage. However, this embrace produced (and is still producing) other changes, for example de-syncretization or the uncoupling of religious elements from the cultural tradition of Cuba, which had been characterized by, for example, the identification of the Yoruba gods with Catholic saints and the transformation of the term Santeria. It is likely that the Protestant culture encountered in the African American community in New York City greatly facilitated this desyncretization

The Yoruba religion is finding some acceptance in non-Cuban Latin communities and in white ethnic communities. However, the spread of the religion into these communities has not been widely studied. While the African American community emphasizes its African origins and Cubans emphasize its recent Cuban vintage, it can hardly be expected that other communities will find these issues equally compelling. What can be expected is that the spread of the Yoruba religion into other sectors of American society will produce new patterns of reproduction and transformation.


NOTES
1.
Syncretism is the combining of different belief systems. In the Americas, many of the practitioners of African and Native American religions adopted certain characteristics of Roman Catholic belief--such as the veneration of saints--in order to avoid persecution.
2.
In Haiti, Brazil, and Cuba one of the functions of a priest is that of herbalist. In the United States, this aspect of the priest's role has lost most of its prominence. Instead, if the diviner suspects medical problems, he or she advises the person to see a doctor.

REFERENCES

Brandon George Edward. 1983. The Dead Sell Memories: An Anthropological Study of Santeria in New York City. Ph.D. dissertation, Rutgers University, the State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ.

Cabrera Lydia. 1970. Koeko Iyawo Aprende Novicia. Miami: Ediciones Universal.

Deren Maya. 1953. Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti. London and New York: Thames and Hudson.

Gregory Stephen. 1986. Santeria in New York City: A Study In Cultural Resistance. Ph.D. dissertation, New School for Social Research, New York, NY.

James Edward. 1970. "Introduction." In Shango de Ima: A Yoruba Mystery Play, by Pepe Carril . English adaptation, with a preface by Susan Sherman and introduction by Jerome Rothenberg and Edward James. New York: Doubleday.

Lofland John, and Norman Skonov. 1983. "Patterns of Conversion." In Eileen Barker (ed.), Of Gods and Men: New Religious Movements in the West. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press.

Murphy Joseph M. 1981. Ritual Systems in Cuban Santeria. Ph.D. dissertation, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA.

-----. 1994. Working the Spirit: Ceremonies of the African Diaspora. Boston: Beacon Press.

Sandoval Mercedes Cros. 1975. La Religion Afro-Cubana. Madrid: Playor, S.A.

-27-

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