Odú in Motion: Afro-Cuban Orisha Hermeneutics and Embodied Scholarship, Life Reflections of a Lukumí Priest

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Fernandez, Alexander
Florida International University
thesis / dissertation description
The study of the Afro-Cuban Lukumí, the descendants of the Yoruba of Southwestern Nigeria, and their religious practices, has long been of interest to anthropologists and religious studies scholars alike. Unfortunately, Western scholarship has too often relied on the juxtaposition between our rational and their irrational belief systems, explaining away, or acutely ignoring, emic interpretations of religious practice, severely limiting the kind of knowledge produced about these religious phenomena.My study focuses on three distinct processes of divination and their accompanying ceremonies and ritual ledgers, examining how these shape dynamic and formative pedagogies in the Lukumí initiate’s life. Through self-ethnography, and by engaging key theorists, I explore the ways in which the body, as site of religious experience, through divination and initiation, interacts with and is informed by communitas, understood as the very spirit of the community in action.