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American Ethnologist

Religious cosmopolitanisms: Media, transnational Santería, and travel between the United States and Cuba

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ABSTRACT

Santería religious travel and media circulations between Cuba and the United States have created new multilateral transnational linkages since the mid-1990s. U.S.-based Santería travelers and the Cuban priests who engage with them draw on global–local theoretical models in their interactions, in which video recording of rituals, a putatively prohibited practice in Santería, is becoming increasingly common. I suggest that ontological formations are shifting understandings and uses of religious media. Videos are used as sources of ritual knowledge and as part of rituals themselves and are thought of as ways to virtually and spiritually “travel.” I show how U.S. and Cuban practitioners draw on shared but uneven “religious cosmopolitanisms,” whereby they reconfigure notions of “mobility” through travel-by-video and infuse transnational experiences with new spiritual–religious meanings.

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