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1 WHO IS NATURE?: YORB RELIGION AND ECOLOGY IN CUBA By AMANDA D. CONCHA HOLMES A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2010
2 2010 Amanda D. Concha Holmes
3 To my grandfather, Daddy Bill, whose dedication and foresight in his academic, professional and personal living have been as inspirational as his pursuits in life, which had so fully i ntegrated the mind and the body
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS First, I thank the collaborators with whom I hav e been graced to explore Lucumi religion and ecology and more importantly the diversity and unity that is Cuba: Osvaldo, Andrs, Ivis, Soledad, Armando, Graciela, Yarka. I give gratitude to my father, Ira Holmes, who has been such a consistent support in all of my undertakings, and I am especially grateful for his love and committed time as my dad and my advisor throughout all of the processes of writing papers, applications, theses and this dissertation. I thank my mom, Sally Hall Holmes, for her support and encouragement for me to enjoy life along with my dedication to education, and for her heartfelt support, unconditional love and consistent companionship throughout all of my endeavors. I thank my husband, Juan Concha, who has helped to cultivate in me the discipline, and thereby time and inspiration to write and document the following research And of course, I offer my utmost gratitude for the mentorship of my chair, Faye Harrison, whose clear comprehension of alternative epistemologies is evident in her scholarship, her mentorship, and her embodied expression of life. I thank Mike Heckenberger for always being supportive and available with a smile, a hug and critical commentary. Additionally, I thank the professors on my committee who have offered erudite guidance and their devoted time throughout my masters and doctoral process: marilyn thomas houston, Bron Taylor, and Marianne Schmink I hope that this w ork integrates the variety and the profundity of each of their tremendous scholarship. I am also extremely appreciative to those professors who though not formally on my committee served as significant mentors: Tony Oliver -Smith (who shared his office spa ce so that I could use it as my own and guided me through many drafts of proposals and syllabi); Scott Nygren (whose insight into film and media studies have been central to my academic and professional formation); and Akintunde Akinyemi (whose classes of Yorb language and Yorb culture in the diaspora as well as his open office
5 door for consultation have been invaluable). Lastly, but without whose assistance, little of this would have been possible, I express gratitude to the office staff Pat, Karen, Rhonda, Pam, Nita, and Maricela for their essential and immeasurable support. Additionally, I offer heartfelt gratitude to the Tropical Conservation and Development program (including Marianne Schmink, Jon Dain and Karen Kainer), which offered a space of com munity to share, grow, and learn with diverse people from many regions who shared similar goals of interpreting and protecting the earth and its myriad inhabitants. Lastly, I express my deep apprec i ation and connection with two landscapes that are dear to my heart and soul: the sweet river water known as the Suwannee and its forested land of ancient cypress, majestic oak and occasional willow trees where I have been continually inspired by thick fog -covered mornings and color -hued evenings as the flow of the waters unto its banks represents viscerally the dynamic changes and cyclical nature of life; and Paynes Prairie where I frequented several times a week to my office away from home sitting on the rippling waters edge as I wrote, looked up at the birds (depending on the season ducks, egrets, cranes or others) and down at the geckos, armadillos, opossums and over at the deer. Situated between two great oaks, several palm trees and one orange tree that is currently producing a plethora of fruit, I was able t o breathe and write.
6 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS .................................................................................................................... 4 LIST OF TABLES .............................................................................................................................. 10 LIST OF FIGURES ............................................................................................................................ 11 LIST OF OBJECTS ............................................................................................................................ 14 NOTES ON ORTHOGRAPHY ......................................................................................................... 15 LIST OF TERMS ............................................................................................................................... 16 PROLOGUE ....................................................................................................................................... 17 ABSTRACT .......................................................................................................................................22] CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ....................................................................................................................... 24 2 GEOLOGICAL, ETHNOGRAPHIC AND HISTORICAL LANDSCAPES OF WESTERN CUBA AND YORB DIASPORA ................................................................... 46 Geological and Geomorphological Features: Cuba and Africa Connected ............................. 48 Wate rs and Migrations ........................................................................................................ 50 The Gulf Stream ................................................................................................................... 52 First Peoples ......................................................................................................................... 53 Columbus ............................................................................................................................. 56 Historical Context of the Yorb in Africa ............................................................................... 58 Waterways and the Black Atlantic: Rivers Run to the Sea ............................................... 62 African Slavery and Enslaved Africans Forced to Migrate .............................................. 66 Colonial Cuba: Aquifers, Agriculture, and Migration .............................................................. 72 Western Cuba as Agriculural Hub for Tobacco and Sugar ............................................... 73 Free People of Color in Cuba and Livelihoods .................................................................. 79 Manumission, Self -purchase ............................................................................................... 8 0 Caibildos de Nacin in Cuba: Ethnic Congregations ........................................................ 82 Matanzas and Western Cuba ............................................................................................... 83 Matanzas City: Rhythms of Waters, Sacred Forests and Spirits .............................................. 88 3 CONSTRUCTING THE STUDY OF RELIGION AND NATURE: QUESTIONING CONVENTIONAL PARADIGMS ............................................................................................ 90 Academic Roots & Constructing the Study of Nature through the Colors of Religion, Science and Culture ................................................................................................................. 92
7 Academic and Scientific Epistemology Historicized ................................................................ 96 What is Nature? ......................................................................................................................... 105 Cognitive Mapping of Nature and Spirituality ........................................................................ 109 Cognitive Maps and Environmental Policy ............................................................................. 110 Do Conceptions of Nature Influence Environmental Behaviors? .......................................... 115 4 EMBODIED EPISTEMOLOGIES TOWARD EVOCATIVE ETHNOGRAPHIES: AN APPROACH FOR UNDERSTANDING YORB DERIVED ECOLOGICAL KNOWLEDGES ....................................................................................................................... 122 Embodied Epistemologies ........................................................................................................ 124 African Diaspora and Embodiment .......................................................................................... 125 Embodiment: Theoretically Imagined ..................................................................................... 126 Embodiment and African Religions ......................................................................................... 132 Embodied Ecological Knowledge in the African Diaspora .................................................... 134 Embodied Acts of Communication .................................................................................. 136 Divination ................................................................................................................... 136 Music ........................................................................................................................... 137 Movement ................................................................................................................... 139 Evocative Ethnography Defined .............................................................................................. 142 Ethnographic Research Versus Social Science Research ............................................... 143 Cognitive Techniques ........................................................................................................ 150 Videography ....................................................................................................................... 153 Challenges ................................................................................................................... 154 Potential ...................................................................................................................... 155 Collaborative videography ......................................................................................... 159 Evocative Ethnography in the Field ......................................................................................... 160 Field Visits and Consultants ............................................................................................. 160 Cuban Collaborators .......................................................................................................... 162 Videography in the Field ................................................................................................... 164 Summary and Conclusion ......................................................................................................... 167 5 LUCUM RELIGION: SPIRITS ARE THE WATERS AND THE SACRED FOREST .... 169 The Embodiment of Spiritual and Material ............................................................................. 171 Ash ............................................................................................................................................ 172 Orishas ................................................................................................................................ 176 Olodumare: One Universal God ....................................................................................... 179 Cognitive Mapping of Nature Conceptualized as Material and Spiritual .............................. 181 Oshun .................................................................................................................................. 187 Story of Oshun ................................................................................................................... 188 Yemaya ............................................................................................................................... 190 Embodied Epistemology Translated into Evocative Ethnography ........................................ 192 Bodies of Humans and Roles within the Religion ........................................................... 196 A Story of Multiplicities Embodied ................................................................................. 197 Conclusion ................................................................................................................................. 205
8 6 WHO IS NATURE?: OSAIN AND COMMUNICATING ACROSS MATERIAL AND SPIRITUAL WORLDS ............................................................................................................ 207 Who is Nature? Osain. .............................................................................................................. 207 Osainistas ................................................................................................................................... 218 Ewe ..................................................................................................................................... 223 Music .................................................................................................................................. 223 Osainista in Cuba and Gender ........................................................................................... 223 Relationships of Power ............................................................................................................. 225 Ash is Power ............................................................................................................................ 226 Orishas are Subjective Agents .......................................................................................... 227 Communicating Between Material and Spiritual: Humans, Plants and Spirits ..................... 229 Reported Respectful Environmental Behaviors ...................................................................... 231 7 A DOCUMENTARY. OSAIN IN TRANSLATION: YOR B DIASPORA RELIGION AND ECOLOGY ................................................................................................. 235 8 OSAIN IN TRANSLATION: A DISCUSSION OF VIDEOGRAPHIC TECHNIQUES IN EVOKING YORB RELIGION AND ECOLOGY ..................................................... 236 Learning to Learn: Embodied Epistemology and Evocative Ethnography ........................... 242 Conclusion ................................................................................................................................. 245 9 SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, CONSERVATIO N, AND CUBAS ALTERNATIVE MODERNITY ............................................................................................. 248 Revolution and Sustainable Development ............................................................................... 248 Cuban Ecological Significance ......................................................................................... 255 Matanzas Ecological Significance .................................................................................... 256 Conservation and Cubans ......................................................................................................... 258 Collaboration in Cuba ............................................................................................................... 263 10 CONCLUD ING WITH A CONVERSATION ON CONSERVATION: POLITICS OF CONCEPTUALIZING AND CONSERVING NATURE ..................................................... 266 Cultural Diversity in Cuba ........................................................................................................ 268 Conversations on Conservation for Collaboration .................................................................. 271 Conversations: Political Ecology in Practice ................................................................... 273 Pedagogy in Practice: Importance for U.S. and other Overdeveloped Countries ......... 274 Future Research ......................................................................................................................... 275 APPENDIX A FREELISTS FOR NATURE AND SPIRITUALITY COMPILED ...................................... 278 B PILESORT LIST OF NATURE AND SPIRITUALITY ....................................................... 286 C LIST OF PILE SORT WORDS: WATER .............................................................................. 287
9 D JULY 2004 SEMI -SRUCTURED INTERVIEW QUESTIONS (ENGLISH) ..................... 289 E PREGUNTAS DE ENTREVISTA (ESPAOL) .................................................................... 290 F CODE BOOK FOR TEXT ANALYSIS OF INTERVIEWS ................................................. 292 G LIST OF OPEN ENDED QUESTIONS: DEVELOPMENT AND FUTURE ..................... 293 H CONSERVATION PRACTICES (INDIVIDUAL PRACTICES OF CONSERVATION) .................................................................................................................. 294 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................................................................................................. 296 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ........................................................................................................... 325
10 LIST OF TABLES Table page 2 1 Population figures for 1774. .................................................................................................. 80 2 2 Population figures for free people of color from 17921841. ............................................. 81 4 1 Social science research versus ethnographic research. ...................................................... 143 4 2 T able of Interlocutors by age sex and Orisha. ................................................................... 163 5 1 Chart of a few of the most popular Cuban orishas. ............................................................ 177 9 1 Percentage of Cuban national territory covered in forest 14921999. .............................. 249
11 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 2 1 Maps showing the tectonic shift s and effect on how Cuba came to be .............................. 49 2 2 Matanzas Bay ......................................................................................................................... 50 2 3 Bone rema ins found in Matanzan Cave Restos Fosiles de Megalocnus Rodens in Abra de Figueroa, Matanzas .................................................................................................. 51 2 4 The Franklin/Folger map of the Gulf Stream, 1769 ............................................................ 52 2 5 Map of Yorbland in West Africa ....................................................................................... 59 2 6 Map of Yorbland in West Africa. ...................................................................................... 59 2 7 Examples of head busts from West Africa, now displayed in the Louvre, Paris ............... 60 2 8 Map of vegetation areas in Nigeria. ...................................................................................... 61 2 9 Map of vegetation in Cuba. ................................................................................................... 61 2 10 Map of ocean currents. ........................................................................................................... 63 2 11 Prominent rivers and waterways of Yorbland. ................................................................. 64 2 12 Map of rivers in West Africa: Senegal, Niger to the Benue ................................................ 65 2 13 Map of West Africa from 18th century .................................................................................. 67 2 14 Bight of Benin. ....................................................................................................................... 68 2 15 West Africans forcibly transported to western Cuba ........................................................... 70 2 16 A Painting of tobacco fields in Matanzas ............................................................................. 75 2 17 Map of Cuba illustrating the areas of sugarcane cult ivation ............................................... 78 2 18 Bridge Over the Yumur River, Museum de Sauto. ............................................................. 83 2 19 Arial view of Matanzas and three of its bridges. .................................................................. 83 2 20 Bridge Over the Yumur River. ............................................................................................. 84 2 21 Map of the founding of Matanzas City, Museum de Sauto. ................................................ 85 2 22 Photo of San Severino Fortress (currently the Route of the Slaves Museum) in 2006. .... 86
12 2 23 A photo of two cells where slaves and later prisoners were kept at the fortress ................ 87 2 24 Sauto Theatre in Matanzas City. ........................................................................................... 87 3 1 The color wheel exhibit located at the Science Museum in San Francisco. ....................... 94 3 2 An up -close view of the color wheel exhibit located at the Science Museum in San Francisco showing individual differences in perceptions of color. ..................................... 95 3 3 Explanation of the color wheel at the Science Museum in San Francis co. ........................ 95 3 4 Linnaeus chart that shows his hierarchical, scientific system. ........................................ 100 3 5 Photograph of the Freelist Sheet handed out in Gainesville, Florida. .............................. 111 3 6 Physical cognitive map of nature and spirituality for Florida residents. (Holmes 2003). .................................................................................................................................... 113 3 7 MDS plot of nature and spirituality. ................................................................................... 114 3 8 Picture of sign that signals the futility of names without a greater understanding. ......... 121 4 1 Illustration of a linear process versus an interative process of research. .......................... 145 4 2 Pictures of Havana and Matanzas, the two primary locations I conducted freelists and pilesorts. ................................................................................................................................ 165 4 3 Photo of El Capitolio. ......................................................................................................... 166 5 1 Obatal practitioner, Vitalia in the Yorb Association, Havana, Cuba .......................... 171 5 2. Obatala altar. ........................................................................................................................... 179 5 3 An example of a pilesort of water. ................................................................................. 183 5 4 Metaphysical conceptions of water and nature. ................................................................. 185 5 5 Doll representing the orisha Oshun. ................................................................................... 188 5 6 Altars for Oshun .................................................................................................................. 188 5 7. Yemaya statue located at the Museum of the Route of the Slaves, Matanzas, Cuba. ......... 190 5 8 Yemaya representation. ........................................................................................................ 191 5 9 Altar for Yemaya. ................................................................................................................. 191 5 10 Ph otos of water with flowers for healing and cleansing. ................................................... 199
13 5 11 The coconuts, plants and broom to enact the cleansing. ................................................... 199 5 12 Required flowers used for cleansing and healing. .............................................................. 200 5 13 Photo of a religious offering at a nonpractitioners home in Cuba. .................................. 204 6 1 A portrayal of Osain. ............................................................................................................ 208 6 2 Plants recently collected and being made into medicine. .................................................. 209 6 3 A close up of the plants being ground into medicine. ....................................................... 209 6 4 Opa Osain, symbol of healers and Osainistas. ................................................................... 211 6 5 Photo of Yaws Osain staff ................................................................................................. 215 6 6 Osvaldo selecting and preparing herbs for a ritual. ............................................................ 219 6 7 Herbs being prepared by an Osainista. ............................................................................... 220 6 8 Up -close of herbs being ground by an Osainista. ............................................................... 220 6 9 Osvaldo in front of his Osain shrine. .................................................................................. 222 9 1 This is a series of environmental billboards in Cuba that show ....................................... 253 9 2 Photos of energy efficient appliances subsidized by the Cub an government for every household. ............................................................................................................................. 254 9 3 Plastic bags washed and hang ing to dry to be able to reuse. ............ 260 101 A sign on a Cuban building that asserts With our ideas towards the FUTURE. .......... 277
14 LIST OF OBJECTS Object page 2 1 Photostory of Bellamar Caves, Matanzas, Cuba (.mov 57 MB). ...................................... 51 2 2 Film clip of the Gulf Stream (AVI, 86.1 MB) ...................................................................... 53 2 3 Matanzas photostory (.mov, 57 MB) .................................................................................... 89 4 1 Clip of movie throwing the coconut divining shells (dv, 9.1 MB) ................................... 136 5 1 Oshuns story in spoken word by Camille Feanny (MP3, 2 MB) ..................................... 189 5 2 Video clip of Yemaya dancing at the Yorb Association (.mov, 3.5 MB) .................... 193 5 3 Video clip of Oshun dancing at Yorb Association in Cuba (.mov, 4.7 MB) ............... 194 5 4 Vide oclip of Chang dancing (.mov, 4.8 MB) ................................................................... 195 5 5 Video clip of ritual washing of flowers (AVI, 22.4 MB) .................................................. 198 6 1 Videoclip of Yaw explaining the Osain staff (.mov, 435.2 MB) ...................................... 217 7 1 Osain in Translation: Yorb Diaspora Religion and Ecology Documentary (.mov, 387.4 MB) ............................................................................................................................. 235
15 NOTES ON ORTHOGRAPHY I use the variou s spellings that I come across, since literatures are based in Brazil, Cuba, Nigeria and United States. In the Yoruba language, the is pronounced sh, which the Spanish language doesnt have. So, Spanish versions often make it a ch. Yet when returning to the United States, it can take on both the anglicized version of Yoruba and or the Spanish. As such, I allow for not merely one version throughout this work but multiple, much like it actually occurs throughout literature on diaspora. Spelling and pronunciation become less fixed to a static notion of correct. Ash, can also be ase with a dot under the s, which is the Yorb spelling, while in Cuba it is most often seen as ach, and in Brazil axe. Nonetheless, the English rendition of this word is most often ash, and that is closer in pronunciation to the Yoruba a In Yoruba language, baba means father of or master and awo means knowledge. Thus a Babalawo is a high priest of Yorb knowledge, and can be equated with the status and education of someone attaining a doctoral degree in the United States (Hunt 1979). In Cuba, a babalawo is spelled babalao. Some other examples include: Orisha, oricha, o ri a, orixa; Lucum or Lukum; Osain, Osanyin, Osayn, Osaayin. The spelling changes some, but the concepts refer to similar domains of understanding. Throughout the work then, you will find a predominant spelling, and you will find alternative spellings referring to the same concept but including the diaspora continuity.
16 LIST OF TERMS Ash Power, energy, universal life force. Babalawo Yorb high priest and scholar of If. Cabildo Cabildos de nacin a socio religious and cultural, mutual aid organization based on the Spanish organization that was implemented for people of African des cent. These groups were organized around people of the same or similar ethnicities, and often had the hierarchical structures of king, queen and other roles with specific religious responsibilities. Cowrie Shells used to divine. Ebbo Offering of sacrifice Ewe Plants used for offering. Osain Deity of the sacred forest and healing herbs. Osainista Initiated practitioner in herbs and healing. Orisha Intermediaries between humans and God, Olodumare. Orisha worship Religion of the Yorb, also called Santer a, Lucum in Cuba. Lucum Orisha worship in Cuba. If Yorb divination system. Santera Orisha worship in the diaspora. Often used pejoratively today with images of primitive African worship predominantly highlighting the use of ritual slaughter and blood. But in early 20th century the term referred to the way of the saints, and was an alternative to the criminalizing notion of brujera which meant witchcraft or sorcery.
17 PROLOGUE In order to better communicate and understand diverse perspectives of the world using more locally relevant categories and expressions, I completed a Foreign Languages degree at New College, the Honors College of Florida. Although I had studied Russian, American Sign Language, French and Spanish since high school, and G erman in college, I mastered fluency only in French and Spanish primarily through traveling and lived, experiential learning. To learn to speak French, I backpacked around France and West Africa for several months until the French would ask me if I were fr om the South of France my accent was obviously not Parisian. Also, I hitchhiked, shared homes, stories, meals and sometimes just a bench with West Africans who instilled in me a recognition of dignity, strength and cultural individuality very unlike most o f the images that I had received of Africans through the media. To increase my Spanish fluency, I traveled and lived in Ecuador for almost a year. For the first two months, I volunteered at the Jatun Sacha Biological Reserve in the Amazon. There I learned about different ways of perceiving the environment when I would go on walks through the jungle with Quichua (local indigenous) guides. During that time, I lived at a nursery of Amazonian plants, and I helped create signs and structures to maintain indigenous ecological knowledge. Later, I moved to the town of Cuenca located in the Ecuadorian Andes. While teaching English to local high school students and adults, I conducted my research for the Bachelors thesis, Foreign Language Pedagogy specifically examining the use of music and experiential education in learning a f oreign language. My time in both the Andes and the Amazon made me realize the vast depth of indigenous ecological knowledge. Intrigued by indigenous voices of the landscape, those whose concern for earth are for her sentience, spirituality and ability to h eal, I decided to obtain my Masters in Latin American Studies
18 (MALAS) with a concentration in Tropical Conservation and Development (TCD) at the University of Florida. Through my graduate research and my work experience in the field of conservation and d evelopment in the tropics, I found that learning multiple perspectives is fundamental to understanding different cultures interpretations of nature and therein their distinct versions of development. Influenced by Marianne Schminks emphasis on multiple s takeholders and gender in ecosystem analysis, Taylor Steins in depth appraisal of ecotourism as a possible way to merge development and conservation, along with Sandra Russos Feminist Political Ecology books, I set out to study ecotourism at the renowned site of Pinal del Rio in Cuba. But, due to the political climate and United States legislation prohibiting travel to Cuba, I was not able to obtain the permission in time to conduct my masters research. Instead, I followed Helen Safa and Jerry Murrays a dvice and went to the neighboring Caribbean island of Hispaniola, and do research in the Dominican Republic, which holds a completely different political history from Cuba in relation to the United States. For my Masters in Tropical Conservation and Devel opment in Latin American Studies, I conducted an investigation that used locally relevant categories of development to evaluate an ecotourism venture, which I discuss in the masters thesis: Resident Perspectives of Ecotourism as a Tool for Community -Based Development: a Case Study in Arroyo Surdido, Saman, Dominican Republic Thus, my concern with representing and accessing distinct ways of understanding nature comes through my graduate studies on Development, Conservation and Science Studies, and also f rom my work experience. I have been employed by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and the InterAmerican Institute for Global Change Research (IAI). For these organizations, I conducted ethnographic research, co au thored and
19 edited papers that dealt with the interplay of ecology and anthropology, including issues of climate change, livelihoods, gender, indigenous rights (legislation and land) and collaborative management of natural resources. These studies were made available to the World Bank, local and national nongovernmental organizations (NGO), published and presented at international venues. For instance, the study on the MesoAmerican Barrier Reef system in Central America was published in the international jou rnal Policy Matters (2002). This study shaped my future research on ecological knowledge production, since the results demonstrated that what was called collaborative management had little to do with learning from the locals, and actually did little more than integrate residents into a one -sided conversation, which effectively told them they had to leave the soonto -be -conservation area and thereby drastically alter their livelihood patterns. Conservationists comprising mainly international organization a nd nongovernmental organization personnel who interpreted conservation to mean protected areas without people were dominating the legislation and practice with value -laden agendas. Thus, my masters education exposed me to texts and visions from Africa, the Americas and the Caribbean that challenge internationally dominant views of development and conservation, yet rarely become included in international policy. Cuba, however, is an exemplar of a country that has dedicated its national development and conse rvation policies toward an alternative to a hegemonic model of neoliberalism. Thus, I directed my doctoral scholarship in Ecological and Visual Anthropology with a concentration in Religion and Nature to that Caribbean island, and specifically the ecologic al knowledge of West African -derived religions, particularly Yoruba, which are prominent there. My dissertation Who is Nature?: Yoruba Religion and Ecology in Cuba, focuses on improving methodological inquiry
20 to better understand and represent Lucum or Y oruba -derived knowledge and ways of knowing nature in Cuba. This entails, as the title suggests, a strong element of understanding nature as subjects rather than objects. By this I mean that positivist science1 practitioners often gloss over nature as obje ct or objects (including everything from climatological patterns, bears, oceans, mosquitoes, trees, and great whales, or that which is nonhuman). Whereas Yoruba practitioners conceptualize nature as very specific subjects, that include particular forms of agency, subjectivity, judgment, and attitude, which impact humans. In order to attempt to portray this comprehension of nature and human-nature relationships that rely not solely on human judgment but integrate different subjects of nature, particularly th rough very precise embodied communication techniques, I employ visual techniques (including cognitive methods [i.e., visually mapping conceptions], photography and video) to study the meanings of nature and human behaviors for the Yoruba diaspora and the people aligned with it in Cuba, and beyond. One of the best ways I have found to bring information, people, knowledge and skills together is through video. Video is a significant tool to document multisensory practices, and it has tremendous capacity for representing visceral sensations and diasporic epistemologies si nce it is characterized by experimental styles that can attempt to represent the experience of living between two or more cultural regimes of knowledge. Since scholars diligent mental and mindful work of separating, categorizing, and naming may not get th em any closer to understanding what 1 I note here that I do not wish to convey that natural scientists or positivists were were a monolithic group. Instead science practitioners are myriad and each individual or subgroup will focus on very specific nodes of nature including conceptualizing ecological niches as habitats or systems, or focusing on specific groups of vertebrates, invertebrates, reptiles, or avian species. Indeed, as Tsing (2001) lucidly points out, science and scientists should not be collapsed into one monolithic, homogenous clump. Instead, each scientist and her discipline will conceptualize and focus on different aspects of nature in different ways according to her individual backgrounds: e.g., forester, wildlife ecologist, wetlands specia list, climatologist. Nevertheless, all of these scientists often are conceptually following a similar paradigmatic understanding of nature, which separates an it from a she or a he, who is human. This paradigm, oten referred to as Western, influenc es theoretical and methodological knowledge production in very concrete ways.
21 is meaningful to the people with whom they study, I integrate video as an embodied approach and an additional epistemological model critical to examine local knowledges and ways of knowing nature, particularly with Yoruba practitioners in Cuba. The result of my research is hopefully evoking an alternative way of knowing not only accessing knowledge through categorizing, naming and sometimes othering but also through evoking, feeling and sensing. This focus on experientia l learning is not only the foundation of my life and my research, but also of my teaching. Whether I am teaching about environmental issues, indigenous rights, gender, the African diaspora, Latin American and Caribbean regions, visual anthropology, yoga, o r dance, I employ pedagogical techniques that rely on engaged, active, locally, and personally relevant learning, la Freire (1982). Thus, I embrace experiential learning (including music and movement) as integral to my own syllabi as well as in my discussions and workshops to diversify other teachers pedagogical techniques. Video, music and movement can be used for education, whether it is for students in a classroom, scientists in the field, scholars at conferences, or religious practitioners in t heir landscape.
22 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy WHO IS NATURE?: YORB RELIGION AND ECOLOGY IN CUBA By Amanda D. Concha Holmes May 2010 Chair: Faye V. Harrison Cochair: Michael J. Heckenberger Major: Anthropology Scholars must find culturally appropriate methods to interpret African ecological knowledges in order to improve our understanding of shifting multisited multivocal and multisensorial landscapes especially concerning human nature relationships. This research is in response to the general academic need to examine how black histories have been conceived and written. Instead of folklore, I look to the Osainistas (healers and herbalists initiated into the secrets of Osain) in Cuba as possible partners in a conversation in collaborative conservation. My study of Lucum (Yorb -derived) religion and Osain (deity of the sacred forests, herb s and healings) reveals an embodied understanding of nature through which the boundaries of subject as well as material and spiritual become collapsed and traversed through specialized communication techniques. Ways of knowing through invocations, praise poetry, music and dance are essential to nearly all Yorb ritual in which spiritual forces are actualized evoking and thus invoking spirit into physical form. Yorb employ these embodied techniques to transcend boundaries and open communication among spirit, material, temporal and spatial worlds, particularly to understand and work with natural resources. This embodied knowledge is, as Yvonne Daniel argues in her book Dancing Wisdom rich and viable and should be referenced among other kinds of knowledge (2005:4).
23 This intermittently conducted 2003 06 ethnographic study, relies on what I am calling evocative ethnography, which is organized around ethnography using visual and cognitive techniques along with archival research to explore how Lucum conceptualize nature and how I can translate these embodied perceptions. Additionally, since these Lucum ways of understanding nature encourage, according to the practitioners, respectful environmental behaviors, I hope that this research will aid fu ture studies and more importantly improved collaborations between Lucum, scientists and policy-makers As one o sainista explains, religious practitioners respect and care for the plants through specifically outlined environmental practices such as only t aking the branches and never the roots of plants, and only taking what is needed for that day. This is a critical finding for ecological anthropology because it is situated at the nexus of cosmology and conservation, and thereby noteworthy for understanding an important aspect of the African diaspora on a particular Caribbean landscape. In contemporary times of quickly disappearing neotropical forests, these results are significant not only to the current debate on the politics of conceptualizing and conser ving nature, but also to collaborative, community -based conservation and development endeavors
24 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION In a world where the local is situated in a globalized context (e.g., migration and diaspora) and the global is localized (e.g., electronic media and ideascapes), where people are forming collective entities based less on geopolitical boundaries (i.e., nat ion-states) and more on textual and ideological convergences (e.g., Andersons  print capitalism), ethnographers must rethink how we are defining concepts like culture (including notions like local, global, modern, and traditional) along with how w e are contextuali zing and depicting the communities that we study. Methododology is a key componenet of knowledge production and how we define and represent the communities and the issues that we research. Scholars must find culturally appropriate methods to interpret African ecological knowledges within our methodological frameworks in order to improve our understanding of shifting multisited and multivocal landscapes especially concerning human/nature relationships. This is particularly vital for scholars and practitioners of tropical conservation and development and for scholars of the black Atlantic (Gilroy 1993; Matory 2005). To contribute to collaborative conservation and development in the tropics th rough understanding and communicating c ontemporary cultural experience of humannature relationships I devote the following analysis to two primary queries: How do Lucum practitioners specifically the Osainistas in Cuba conceptualize nature (and their environmental practices), and How can scholars and scientists access and evoke alternative cultural paradigms using techniques that may be more locally appropriate, (i.e., how can we conceive and represent black histories in less Eurocentric terms)? As Ja mes Clifford powerfully summarizes contemporary cultural experience: This century has seen a drastic expansion of mobility, including tourism, migrant labor, immigration, and urban sprawl. More and more people dwell with the help of mass transit, automob iles, and airplanes. In cities on six continents foreign populations have
25 come to staybut often in partial, specific fashions. The exotic is uncannily close. Conversely, there seem no distant places left on the planet where the presence of modern products, media, and power cannot be felt. An older topography and experience of travel is exploded. One no longer leaves home confident of finding something radically new, another time or space. Difference is encountered in the adjoining neighborhood, the fam iliar turns up at the ends of the earth. Cultural difference is no longer a stable, exotic otherness; self -other relations are matters of power and rhetoric rather than of essence (Clifford 1988: 1314 as cited in Asad1 1993:9 [my italics]) These noti ons of power and rhetoric and the acts they incur or limit are primary to my work. The core issues facing cultural representation and modernity theorization as promoted by theorists discussing modernity who outline theories based on concepts such as dependency, core and peripheries, first and third world, must be recrafted to understand contemporary, highly mobile, interconnected, transnational societies (Appadurai (2003 ). Additionally, Matory (2005) reminds us that scholars should not limit their understanding of interconnectivity (of what is now labeled globalization) to an imagined contemporary, modern state. Instead, scholars must recognize that the flows of information, bodies and ideas are inherent to the historical record as well since, earlie r flows were no more or less socially and geographically patterned than todays. We must be careful not to allow our enthusiastic description of the present to reduce the past to a one dimensional foil (2003: 9). Thus, historical ecology as well as spir itual and political ecology is fundamental to my work. Although ethnography may have once conceived local communities as though they were bounded, particularly under the label of traditional, Charles Piot (1999) navigates theoretical conceptions of an thropological inquiry, analysis and exposition in Remotely Global: Village Modernity in West Africa He critiques the types of ethnography that theorize out of -the -way places as timeless, bounded, culturally homogenous, traditional entities opposite to the 1 Asad, Talal. 1993. Genealogies of Religion: Discipline and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Islam. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
26 globalized, transnational, heterogenous, modern world. Instead, he commits himself to writing a history that disrupt[s] the conventional grand narratives of Western scholars eschewing categories that describe social processes in a way that prom otes concepts of society that are deeply informed by Euroamerican epistemological prejudices, which privilege commodified, individualistic views of pershonhood (1999: 6) and I add of nature. Much like Piot depicts the ethnoscape of Kabre relations in Nort hern Togo flowing across borders of local conceptions of person and social life within changing temporal and spatial dimensions of modern life, I seek to eschew the essentialized interpretation of traditional, particularly as it refers to ecological knowle dge, and hope to outline an example of an alternative and modern interpretation of nature and human -nature relations (1999: 23). The perspectives that I wish to illustrate are not those of a bounded and homogenous group set in some imaginary traditional r eligion, but instead, those whose foundations are based on flows of ideological concepts and material goods that have been welcomed and appropriated over time and space through territorially and ideologically mobile Africans particularly I emphasize Yorb diaspora, Yorb descendants, and heterogenous communities of Lucum practitioners of various heritages in Cubas modern time of early 2000s. Stephan Palmi in Wizards and Scientists affirms the modernity of African diaspora cultural contexts in Cuba: For what I aim to demonstrate is that, far from designating even only typological opposites, the meanings, associated with the terms Western modernity and Afro -Cuban tradition represent mere facets of perspectival refractions of a single encompassing historical formation of transcontinental scope. I call this formation Atlantic modernity What I take this concept to refer to is, in part, a set of structural linkages that, since the early sixteenth century, transformed the Atlantic Ocean into an integrated geohistorical unit: an expanding theater of human interaction defined by a vast and intricate web of political and economic relations objectively implicating actors and collectivities on three continents in each others histories. More important, however, I also intend this term to designate a no less multiply determined, heterogenous, and historically contingent
27 aggregate of local discourses and practices reflecting on, engaging, and the reby both shaping and transforming this basic structural constellation Whatever else Afro -Cuba religion is, it is as modern as nuclear thermodynamics, or the suppositions about the nature of our world that underlie DNA sequencing, or structural adjustment policies, or on-line banking. (2007:15, my italics) Moreover, Matory argues that to understand cultures as stable and unitary is also erroneous for the past. He specifically highlights those communities that helped create the nation -states as well as lat er traversing them He proffers that theorists must not make irrelevant those forms of translocalism that have either produced the nation-state or subsidized it from the very beginning (Matory 2005: 89). Thus, my research follows scholars like Matory, w ho sets for himself the task of clarifying a standard of analysis for a translocal field that is both one of the most neglected and arguably the most important in illuminating the central role of transnationalism in the genesis of the territorial nation a nd of global capitalism itself the black Atlantic (2005: 5). My work also integrates historical ecological precepts, as William Bale suggests, by studying and understanding human/nature relationships through their fluctuations in both time and space not just as a snapshot. The thrust of my work, then, is to rethink how black diaspora histories have been conceived and written and conceptualize an alternative based on Gilroys conceptualization of the b lack Atlantic recognized as a whole space with its integrated complexities including transnational and intercultural perspectives. Diaspora peoples should not be referenced as those historical records written by the colonizers often didas inferior, irrational, savage, primitive, childlike, and lacking in r espect to the implicitly assumed norm or apex of civilization and modernity the European (white, bourgeoisie male). Nor should the descriptions be reduced to some uniform community limited by geographical or politically created boundaries. As an alternative, my work is based on a multi -sited ethnography that features the Lucum, or Yorb practitioners in Cuba, and also includes: Yorb practitioners in Oyotunji, South Carolina,
28 Yorb practitioners in Gainesville, Florida as well as a contrasting analy sis of conceptual categories of nature for Gainesville, Florida residents who do not have an affiliation with Yorb practitioners. When I refer to Yorb practitioners, I mean the people who are involved with the religion; they may or may not be descende d from Yorbland, West Africa. Therein, I hope to illuminate aspects of Yorb conceptualizations of nature as they become performed in diasporic landscapes like but not limited to Western Cuba. In this endeavor to more sensitively and accurately portray Yorb diaspora ecological knowledge, I propose evocative ethnography as a methodological framework, which integrates embodiment as a critical concept for African diaspora scholarship, and specifically the use of videography as a tool to access and evoke African -derived ecological knowledges. Thus, m y research uses cognitive, ethnographic and videographic techniques to attempt to access, analyze and evoke senses of Cuban Osainistas' or Yorb initiated herbalists and healers' conceptualizations of nature. Thus, I focus on issues of power and rhetoric through employing more locally relevant yet often more discounted vehicles of knowledge production and transmission such as music and movement In this endeavor, I hope to call a ttention to how (as Harrison 2008:10 explains), a specific subjugation of knowledge lead[s] to the marginalization of certain perceptions, which have been historically devalued and shunned in the academy. As an alternative to support the transforming, reworking, and decolonizing of anthropology (Harrison 1991; 2008), I proffer this work using written text along with visual and audio media such as photography, sound clips and video clips. An evocative methodology is imperative for advancing a more d ecolonized understanding of Yorb pracitioners religions, conceptualizations of nature and environmental practices.
29 Additionally, this multi -sited, evocative ethnography emphasizes not just cultural difference, but also the usefulness of Yorb ecologica l knowledge for development and conservation theory, policy, and practice. I assert that Yorb practitioners role affects the imaginary as a constructed landscape of collective, interactive, complex, nested systems of agency in a deterritorialized world. These flows of power, discourse, text, and meaning within this interactive, fractal system should not be valued only for its folklore but also for its significance in development and conservation theory and practice. Language does not just express thoughts and ideas, but also helps form perceptions and thus reality. According to the Sapir -Whorfian hypothesis, language symbolizes reality as well as shapes it ( Whorf 1940). The French philosopher Jacques Derrida (1996) asserted that one must deconstruct language to truly understand the reality and the interests of the author. Accordingly, one must locate the circumstances and the actors within each context to understand their unique perspective and rendition. In development and conservation literature, t hose who did not conform to an industrialized, productive, modern norm were thus assigned stigmatized descriptive labels like inferior and backward (Escobar 1995; Chambers 1997). Through the political language of the United States, Europe and internati onal agencies2 as well as the rhetoric espoused by the academic social sciences developed and undeveloped countries were created (Pratt 1992; Escobar 1995; Grillo 1998b). Conceptualizing development should not be understood only in terms of a master n arrative of evolution3 or more currently, globalization, and neoliberalism (Harvey 2005). Instead, 2 For example, International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the United Nations, UNESCO, World Bank, International Monetary Fund and USAID. 3 The values inherent to modernity in the West can be traced back to the concepts of progress and evolution intrinsic to the Enlightenme nt and the Industrial Revolution. During the 18th century, the Enlightenment promoted the idea of social progress and the liberating possibilities of rational and scientific knowledge. Subsequently, unilinear theories of progress with a definitive origin a nd destination, depicting a continuum that all societies must navigate,
30 development should be understood in terms of imagination (Appadurai (2003 ), and conservation should be understood in terms of creative solutions (Shiv a 2008). As the building blocks of imaginary worlds ( Appadurai (2003 ) : 33), and as the sites to examine how locality emerges in a globalizing world, Appadurai emphasizes the investigation of the fluid, irregular, deeply perspectival constructs of ethnoscapes, ideascapes, mediascapes, technoscapes, and financescapes. Through these interactive scapes, he asserts that one discovers the agency of the imagination. Shiva argues that to improve conservation efforts, we must rely on socially equitable and creative solutions (2008). She continues to clarify that "solutions will not come from the corporations and governments... [s]olutions are coming from those who know how to live lightly" (Shiva 2008: 46). Shiva acknowledges the farmers of India, particular ly the women who have demonstrated that their ecological knowledge has maintainted fecundity, biodiversity, water abundance and life in their forests and lands, while colonial forestry-based legislation and the internationally enforced green revolution has depleted the soils, created water shortages and created famine ( Shiva 1989). Shiva continues to discuss how the terms institutionalized through forestry programs convey a different meaning and therein interaction with the landscape than the local languages with devastating consequences (Shiva 2008). How can we learn from people who hav e significantly different epistemologies? I assert that, through videography, scholars may better interpret diverse perspectives on how humannature ecologies are imagined. As the Cuban filmmaker Glorio Rolando poignantly affirms, were promoted by men like Comte (17981857), Malthus (17761834) and Darwin (18091882) highlighting the human species as the most highly evolved with increased dominance over biophys ical environments and natural selection as the driving force. In addition, evolutionary theory depicted people and societies as progressing through various stages from backward to advanced. For example, Lewis Henry Morgan (1877) explained that societies pr ogress through fixed stages from savagery through barbarism to civilization. Continental Africans were often placed, conceptually and legislatively, in the primitive stage of savagery.
31 [video] speaks a powerful and direct language that develops our imagination (2001: 348). And in so doing, as Rolando explains: [I]t can reveal to us the anonymous actors rarely highlighted in offical historythe musicans and singers and the ordinary small town people with their tragedies and their laughter. Most of all, it can bring the audience into contact with our ways of being beyond the usual prefabricated cultural sterotypes that make cultivating an effective narrative style both difficult and of the utmost importance. (2001: 348) The imagination when creating collective ideas of neighborhood, nationhood, moral economies and landscapes of group identity can be fuel for action (Appadurai 2003 : 9,48). I suggest that religion may serve as a central node to be able to gr asp the image and the habitus ( Bourdieu 1993 ), or the imaginary as defined by cultural influences that cultivate specific behavior patterns. Shared imagination can lead to collective action that operates beyond the boundaries of the nation that is t ransnational and postnational achievements ( Appadurai 2003  : 8). Escobar and Alvarez (1992) clearly highlight the fact that social movements in diverse and plural forms are occurring with creative alternatives, and in order to capture the complexity of them, scholars must become more transdisciplinary (which Zimmerer and Basset [2003: 2] define as high-level, fused integration of disciplines) Thus, if I may be permitted to begin with my conclusion, I hope that this investigation aids in creating a collective imaginary of humans, natures and their relationships, which may in the future be collaboratively created and shared by Cuban scientists, Lucum practitioners, the Cuban government and international organizations to be able to work together to en vision and co -create a Cuban future4. In concert, I hope that these lessons and expressions may be understood and 4 One scientist I interviewed said that what she wanted was a Cuban future meaning those Cubans who have remained and continue to live on the island (Holmes 2008).
32 implemented internationally within pedagogical5 strategies and conservation and development policies. To construct this storys rhythm that in cludes an amalgamation of an historical tempo, pulses of African lives, cadences of European scholarship, along with distinctive Cuban beats, the core substance of this analysis proceeds with Chapter 2: Historical and Ethnographic Context of the Yorb Diaspora and Western Cuba. This chapter offers a basic geographical and human ecological perspective on Matanzas, Cuba. Subsequently, the chapter depicts the geographical landscape of the western region of Cuba with a historical, political and cultural ecolog ical analysis. Due to its location on the ocean with an accessible port along with its tropical climate, karstic terrain, underground riverine systems and fertile soils, Matanzas became a center of sugar and tobacco plantations. Consequently, many Africans were forced i nto slavery and brought to Cuba to support the sugar industry, particularly during the first half of the nineteenth century. Between 1600 and 1900, more than one million enslaved Africans were transported to Cuba. About 85% of them were introduced to Cuba after 1800, and about 45% of all the Africans who disembarked in Cuba after 1800 belonged to the various Yorb kingdoms (Casanova 1996). Since Matanzas was the entry port for that particular African diaspora, it maintains not only the highest population of Lucum practitioners in Cuba, but also some of the oldest temple houses Lucum or Regla de Ocha, as it is also known is most widely known as Santera (literally, Way of the Saints ). In the first quarter of the 20th century, Santera replaced brujera a s the name for Yorb religion as practiced in Cuba. Yet, similar to how brujera denoted working with 5 By this I mean that universities teaching natural sciences should integrate some Yoruba ways of learning about nature. These might include music, movement and experiential learning to enhance intersubjective relationships rather than relying only on objective, reductive analyses.
33 witchery, or wizardry, and thereby to a Catholic, colonial mind with evil -doings that were understood in terms of crime and criminality, Santera also ca me to reference the religion with a pejorative image connoting the deviancy of worshiping the saints rather than God. Due to the high number of both enslaved Africans and, importantly, free Afro Cubans in Matanzas and Havana, the retention of African tradi tions is especially strong there. Lucum becomes practiced in Cuba by integrating traditional Yorb beliefs along with Catholic icons, Kardecian spiritist beliefs, and other African -based religions like Palo and Abakua. Often, Yorb practitioners in Cuba will follow more than just one. They allow for overlap that to a Western eye may appear contradictory. On the contrary, Yorb tradition implied not only change but also integration of other belief systems. Instead of a closed system philosophy that allows but one way, Yorb tradition is based on dynamic transformation and process. Yet, instead of understanding African religion in Cuba as heterogeneous and with diverse cultural, political, historical and ecological influences, academics often have hom ogenized African populations and influences. Even worse, scholars typically represented Africans and Africans in the diaspora within an evolutionary construct that located African views and practices as inferior if not degenerate. In Cuba, the first anthropological studies were based on queries on why Africans were predisposed to be criminals (e.g., Ortizs Los Negros Brujos 1906). In a similar vein, African knowledge of nature was demeaned since nature could only be acceptably understood within the dominant paradigm that reduced the environment to an object available for investigation and exploitation. T hus, Chapter 3: Constructing the Study of African Religion(s) and Nature: Questioning Conventional Paradigms begins with an exploratio n of some of the ontological roots of academic scholarship, particularly that of peoples who do not
34 subscribe to identical assumptions of the Europeans who often studied them. Chapter 3 illustrates how values and assumptions implicit in dominant rhetoric a re supported within systems of power and become played out within academia and conservation policy, often casting their concepts and the persons, religions and conceptions they delineate as primitive, irrational, and less civilized. This chapter explor es several examples of this occurrence. Through exploring the historical roots of how certain conceptualizations came to be (i.e., the objectification of nature, the backwardness of non-European human values, and the ungodly forms of relating between tradi tional religious practitioners and the natural world), I highlight the intrinsic implications for influencing environmental practices, policy and scholarship. The concepts of nature, humans, development and conservation cannot be compartmentalized so easil y, and we as scholars must explore alternative models of meaning using additional methodologies that will enable the comprehension of how nature is understood in spiritual, material, social, medicinal and myriad other ways that are locally and globally rel evant. Since some African diaspora peoples are known to communicate within spiritual, material, temporal, and spatial worlds, an additional approach to the materialist -based empirical model is necessary. By privileging Western science, scholars including C uban ones may ignore a prominent characteristic of many African religious forms. Instead, scholars and scientists alike must find culturally appropriate ways to interpret religions of African diaspora peoples. Since practitioners use music, dance, possessi on and divination to transcend otherwise seemingly impassable and unknowable divides, I propose embodiment and evocation as conceptual tools to deepen understanding of certain African diaspora epistemologies. Chapter 4: Embodied Epistemologies toward Evocative Ethnographies: an Alternative Approach for Understanding Yorb Derived Ecological Knowledges illustrates the import of an alternative model of
35 scholarship that includes embodiment as a central c oncept for understanding African diasporic ecological k nowledge. Thus, Chapter 3 and Chapter 4 delineate some epistemologies of the body, from empiricism to embodiment, and briefly review some of the theoretical shifts, both chronologically and conceptually. After elaborating upon varying perspectives on the body, I devote Chapter 4 to understanding the critical concept of embodiment for African diaspora studies by demonstrating its appropriateness for studying cosmology, practices and practitioners of Lucum. While Chapter 3 is primarily historical, theoretic al and definitional, Chapter 4 details an embodied methodological framework that I call evocative ethnography. Thus, after guiding the reader through a historical analysis of religion and nature theory, briefly unearthing the conceptual archeology of relev ant terms therein, particularly in Western academia, and continuing an exploration and appreciation of a worldview that integrates biophysical with spiritual conceptions in understanding the environment, Chapter 5: Lucum Religion and Spirits in the Fores t offers an overview of Lucum religion and perceptions of nature in Cuba. Nature, fundamental to Lucum religion, is no longer understood within a framework of human versus nature, but instead as repositories of ash and as orishas with whom humans are able to communicate and receive guidance, ask permission, interact ,6 and even embody. While others pray to an invisible god hoping someday to see him, Canizares explains, the Divine is manifested in Santera as living, breathing be ings one can touch, kiss, and love (1993:14). Orishas embody multiple layers of reality: metaphysical, physical, spiritual, and material worlds; they are both an aspect of nature and a human pursuit, and much more. 6 Santeros receive stones of each orisha only once in their life. These stones are cared for and revered as living entities by the santeros. Canizares explains that because the wilderness is the true repository of all of Santerias secrets [p]lants, especi ally herbs are essential to every Santeria ritual (Canizares 1993:101).
36 Chapter 5 discusses ash or power that is not only rhetoric but spirit made tangible. This spiritual power, with the proper knowledge and incantations, can be infused into material objects as well as accessed from appropriate plants. This idea and act of knowing nature as well as the technique of transmitting this knowledge is an example of what I mean by embodied epistemology. This chapter offers an overview of Yorb cosmology selecting specifically those orishas who are most pertinent to Western Cuba and to understanding practitioners conc eptions and practices with nature. For instance, the city of Matanzas is a primary example of where the biophysical and spiritual are interfused with daily life and living for Yorb practitioners. Abutting the sea, the oceans waters and meanings are vita l to Matanzas residents. In addition, two major above -ground rivers cross through the karstic terrain. So both Oshun (who represents fresh river waters, is the goddess of love, gold and marriage, and is the patron saint of Cuba) and Yemaya (who is the essence of oceanic waters and motherhood) are critical figures in religion and ecology. And of course the sacred forest is vital for the religion and for healing. In an effort to illustrate Afro -Cuban religion as it more realistically becomes performed in Cuba this chapter explores a vignette of a woman who holds multiple, seemingly contradictory roles in society, and as such is emblematically Cuban. She is an active member of the Communist Party, a soils scientist, a wife of a soils scientist, a mother to a c ollege graduate who is about to leave the island, and a daughter of rural family origins. She helped build her home and many others so that she could have her own. She would be considered white probably descended from Canary Island heritage. And at the tim e that this vignette is from, she was suffering from a deep depression, and seeking help in the multiple forms that are commonly available in Cuba. Through this vignette, Chapter 5 explores the complexities of contemporary
37 Cuban life and the intersections of various identity politics, scientific knowledges and religious knowledges that form a cultural hybridity known as Cuban. One of the most fundamental orishas that requires attention if one is discussing Yorb religion and ecology is Osain. Essential to Yorb religion, Osain is an orisha who may be understood as the embodiment of nature and medicine, including herbs, plants, trees, and the forest O sain is one of the most vital orishas, for without him and his kingdom of the sacred forest and the herbs within, there would be no religious rituals, no healings, and no initiations. In effect, there could be no religion. Chapter 6: Who is Nature: Osain and Communicating across Material and Spiritual Worlds discusses the results of my research investigating Osain and includes data from ethnographic interviews, cognitive data collection and analysis of the Lucum in Havana and Matanzas, Cuba from 20032006. According to the results of my research, if one is attempting to understand Yorb conceptualization of nature in Cuba, one must look to Osain, the owner of el monte (the sacred forest). Although Osain is rarely mentioned as one of the seven primary orishas, he is acknowledged as one of the most important for rituals and the one most connected ideologically and practically to the healing herbs of the forest7. This chapter offers background information on his personage and is the basis for the dissertation s title: Who is Nature? Chapter 6 elucidates the connection between power, language and action. Power is ash and ash can be manipulated by humans with the knowledge to communicate with the orishas, who are subjective agents. Language is not only how nat ure is talked about within the religion, but also how nature is talked to, asked permission of, interacted with through the religion. Action deals with the acts of communication as well as specific environmental behaviors. 7 Although Inle is also connected to healing herbs and Ogun is connected to the forest, Osain is said to be the owner of the forest.
38 Hence, once this chapter has expl ored an image of nature as subjective in Yorb religion and ecology, it looks more specifically at the expressed behaviors of the specialized practitioners, osainistas. The osainistas are the people who go to select the healing herbs from the forest and know the chants to elicit the power or ash from them. According to the osainistas with whom I worked in Cuba, they conceive of their relationship with the natural world as one that is primarily based on respect. The Osainistas who have been trained in th e process of communicating between material and spiritual world among humans, plants and spirits report respectful environmental behaviors that include not removing young plants, asking for permission to select a plant, only using the branches or leaves, and not removing the roots of a plant. These findings that call attention to Afro Cuban ecological knowledge as well as the specific role of osainista as herbalist and healer may hold pertinent import for conservation practitioners nationally in Cuba as we ll as internationally. Thus, t o improve our understanding of these shifting, multisited and multivocal landscapes of human/nature relationships, I implement the evocative ethnographic framework that I argue may be more appropriate. Chapter 7: A Documentar y on Osain in Translation: Yorb Diaspora Religion and Ecology offers this short ethnographic documentary video that I created. With a black screen and a strong drumbeat, Osain in Translation begins. Lazaro Ros, the renowned santero and Afro Cuban singer, invokes Osain, the deity of nature through his encantations and salutations Ash ogbo orisha, ash elegua, ash ogun, ash ochosi, ash obatla, baba. In a specified order, with specific intentions, he salutes the ancestors and the orishas, as is required by respect and ritual protocol. The rhythms of the bat drums accompany his encantation. I have used visual techniques in this documentary that inc lude nonlinear editing and montage which are vital to this endeavor to evoke nonwestern epistemologies through what
39 Taussig 1994: 208), refers to as embodied knowing or what Marks (2000) elicits as the sensorial, almost tactile experience made possible through video. Moreover, by showing faces with the stories, tales become people who with their individual and collective perspectives transform informants into persons with their own voices. By recording and showing marginalized knowledges, the status of those ways of knowing is raised and no doubt is left concerning the provenance and ownership of that knowledge (Protz 1998). This video of approximately 14 minutes explores how religious values intersect with environmental perspectives for practitioners in the South Carolina Yorb village of Oyotunji as well as for Osainistas in Matanzas, Cuba. South Carolina is included to illustrate the Yorb ideascapes that flow across national socio -political borders binding diverse peoples, histories and languages with common religious ties, which may influence environmental practices. Yoruba cultural production is contemporaneously occurring in many locations synchronistically and diachronically through consistent exchanges, which occur between Africa, South Amer ica, the Caribbean and the United States. George Brandon (1993), author of Santera from Africa to the New World, details how an intricate network of Yorb practitioners surpassed 500,000 people who resided throughout the metropoles in the United States i n the early ninetees; now in 2010, these numbers have grown significantly8. Brandons work argues that to understand Yorb religion, one must comprehend it through its dynamic transformations: a creole cultures real nature is processual and is only tru ly revealed by the way in which it unfolds in time (1993:41). He delineates some of the major transformations of Yoruba religion from 8 See The Yoruba Diaspora in the Atlantic World, edited by Toyin Falola and Matt D. Childs, 2004, Migene GonzalezWippler Santeria: The Religion 1994, and Miguel A. De la Torre, Santeria: The Beliefs and Rituals of a Growing Religion in America 2004, Miguel Barnet, Afro Cuban Religions 2001)
40 Africa to Cuba (including Pre -Santeria, Early Santeria [1492 1870], and Santeria ) and from Cuba to the Unite d States (1959present). One of the most well known cases of Yoruba religion coming from Cuba to the United States is through Oba Osejiman Adefunmi I, who founded Oyotunji outside of Charleston, in Beaufort County, South Carolina. Adefunmi, born Walter King, is thought to be the first native black United States citizen who was initiated into Santera priesthood in Cuba. He first visited Cuba in 1956 and then was initiated into the worship of Obatala, the Yoruba God of Purity and Peace. In August of 1959, just before the Revolution, he and his Cuban friend Chris Oliana, went to Matanzas Province to get initiated. When they returned stateside, they founded the public temple called Shango Temple, and incorporated it as the African Theological Archministry. L ater the temple was renamed the Yoruba Temple when he moved it to Harlem in 1960 (Bascom Introduction to Hunt 1979: np). Yet, since his was a mission of Black Nationalism, he became increasingly disenchanted with Lucum due to its use of Catholic imagery a nd vocabulary (e.g., santo). In 1970, he began what Brandon refers to as Orisa -Voodoo and created the first African village in the United States that eschewed all Catholic connections, and recreated a connection with Yoruba religion from Africa. Additiona lly, Beatriz Morales essay ( 1995) on the cultural history of the Oyotunji Village in the context of the internationalization of Lucumi and its syncretic encounters with Vodou in the U.S. calls attention to the necessity to integrate a multi-sited approach when examining Yoruba diaspora cultural production. She asserts that locations like New York City and subsequent migration to the South have been fertile ground for Yoruba culture and religion. Several scholars (e.g., Ofunnyin 2009; Olupona and Rey 2008; Poyner 2003 ; Clarke 2004,1997; Brandon 1993) call attention to the large contingents of Yoruba practitioners
41 throughout the United States. They reside and create their communities in predominantly urban locales, but particularly in Miami and Archer9, Florida10, New York City, New York, Richmond, Virginia and Chicago, Illinois (Clarke 1997: 59). Kamari Clarke (2004:2) points out that, [u]nderstanding the making of transnational communities involves understanding how local communities are embedded in cir cuits of connections. Our ability to chart communities involves our ability to understand how peoples networks are both historically shaped and institutionally legitimated and globally interconnected (Clarke 2004:3). Since Yoruba practitioners engage in a coeval cultural production of knowledge through exchanging ideas and practices in what Clarke (2004:4) has termed deterritorialized spaces, my research examines Yoruba religion in Cuba, and also in a few of its other spaces of co -existence and transfor mation. Through using a framework that is to a certain extent multi -sited, I hope to complicate my invocation of diaspora by explaining the different kinds of sites encompassed by that concept, including some of the different kinds of relationships to Y orubaland in Nigeria and Benin and to the history of the dispersion and circulation of Yoruba culture, discourse and therein power. I take this opportunity to thicken and deepen analyses of diaspora formation how all that is characterized to be Yoruba has come to be via diverse sociohistorical processes and coeval fields of connections. Hence, a lthough my study primarily focuses on Cuba, and 9 Compound Iflola 10 People from Oyotunji went to Florida. In several worldview or his methods for discipline and/or resolving village conflicts. In a few ca s es the disparity resulted in the opposing person being expelled from the village. This was the situation for rsmola Awolowo after an internal conflict with Adefunmi and migrated to Gainesville, Florida. Awolowo is credited with the influx of inesville, Florida during the 1980s. Awolowos departure was followed by an exodus of people from the village. Some of these individuals joined Awolowo in Gainesville; some traveled to Miami, Florida, Atlanta, and Georgia, while others went to Los Angeles California. Clarke writes about this mass exit. In the mid1980s, the population of the community plummeted from two hundred to seventy, but this led to an expanding constituency of thousands of urban affiliates with growing loyalties to the community. Dur ing this period, as increasing numbers of practitioners left for better opportunities in urban America, the community laid the seed for the spread of new institutional forms of urban Yoruba communities within a larger network of practitioners (Clarke 2004: 57 in Ofunnyin 2009: 81).
42 prioritizes Matanzas, at times, I bring in examples from Oyotunji, South Carolina and Gainesville residents of Flori da. The documentary includes interviews and footage from Oyotunji, South Carolina as well as Gainesville residents who went to Oyotunji to learn about Yoruba diaspora. While Chapter 7 is the documentary itself, Chapter 8: Osain in Translation: a Discussi on of Videographic Techniques in Evoking Yorb Religion and Ecology i s an essay discussing the theoretical framework of embodied epistemology, or experiential knowing and transmission of knowledge, as used in the video Osain in Translation: Yorb Diaspor a Ways of Knowing Nature. Since Yorb diaspora practitioners of Osain communicate with, get to know, and pass on local ways of knowing nature through dances, rhythms, foods, and stories, the use of video can be critical to access those embodied spaces of knowing. This approach to learning to know nature by communing and communicating between intersubjective worlds via embodied experiences, or what I call embodied epistemology, is an attempt to represent and more importantly evoke a Yorb way of knowing n ature. Like Appadurai and Matorys scholarship, the film is not bounded within a political or geographic location of any one community, but instead goes beyond such boundaries to present a collage of narratives, interpretations, rhythms and visual montages The point of creating a film is to better introduce students, scholars and practitioners to alternative conceptions of nature in an evocative way. From my experience as a scholar and with working in the conservation field, I feel that this element of impro ving ones understanding of local conceptions of the environment is critical and lacking. As Spivak ( 1988) poignantly reminds us in her article Can the Subaltern Speak, it is not the speaking that is missing, but the listening. Subalterns cannot be truly heard by the privileged of either industrialized or the less
43 industrialized worlds. Can development practitioners and conservationists listen carefully enough to hear alternative visions of the world that do not share or partially share a similar ontolo gical and epistemological foundation? Chapter 9 Sustainable Development, Conservation and Cubas Alternative Modernity emphasizes this conversation within Cuba. Indeed, a Cuba case study embraces complexity and nuance in myriad ways. Cubans laud a literact y rate higher than most United States cities, at 98% ( World Health Report 2008 ). This includes the rural, inner city and other typically marginalized groups. Thus, the majority is a very text educated and cultured populace. Additionally, Cubas accomplish ments through its development policies as well as its scientific achievements rival industri alized nations triumphs. In all of these respects, Cuba is an unquestionably modern country. Hence, Cuba challenges dichotomous notions of West and non west, scie nce and non-science. Due to the excellent education that Cubans enjoy, the country boasts over 11 percent of the scientists of Latin America (including a cadre of professional foresters, wetland and soil scientists) even though it only comprises two percen t of the population ( Rennett). Moreover Cubas alternative modernity relies on the formative role that Lucum and other African nations [like the Congo-based Palo Monte and the Carabal Secret Abaka Society] have played in defining its character and cult ure, which have important ramifications for tropical conservation and development. Yoruba practitioners in Cuba also challenge a perception of non -Western to mean indigenous peoples far from urban centers and disconnected from the market, since Yoruba hist ory details the existence from at least the 1400s of highly urban living with extensive trade networks (e.g ., Bascom 1969; Thornton 2002). Accordingly, scholars and scientists must not only question the paradigm of creating an other to whom Western sci entists and scholars
44 must teach, but from whom we should learn. As Shiva ( 1989) details the comprehensive ecological knowledge of the women in India, I hope to encourage a more open dialogue between Yoruba practitioners, scientists and scholars so that the y may learn from each other in open conversation. Here, I invoke Bhaktins dialogic and the metaphor of dialogue that Matory (2005) prefers and Heckenberger (personal communication 2010) calls upon to suggest not that we should see opposing worldviews, but instead that we should create spaces for conversation thereby comprehending power as productive and generative, not only repressive (Foucault 1979; Spivak 1988; Escobar 1995). In that vein, I propose a more ethical relation11 w hich embrace[s] impossibl e differences and distances indispensable for any movement toward decolonization (MacClean and Landry introdution to Spivak 1988: 5). Chapter 10: Conclusion: Politics of Conceptualizing and Conserving Nature summarizes how conceptualizing nature carries implicit assumptions, and how those underlying suppositions influence perceptions, actions and policies. It calls attention then to implicit values that researchers may not recognize or assess within their scholarship. Not withstanding, these dominant worl dviews help shape internationally implemented policies through specific rhetorical and power structures. Bringing into conversation distinct frameworks of cultural production, this work highlights marginalized epistemologies in the academy by reframing Af ro Cuban ecological knowledge. By translating Osain, the Yorb deity of healing herbs and the sacred forest, I hope to expand the understanding of the environment to include subjective community members who deserve respect. I hope to accomplish this throu gh what I call evocative ethnography, or through alternative forms of expression and representation like haptic imagery 11 Thinking of the ethical relation as an embrace, an act of love, in which each learns from the other, is not at all the same thing as wanting to speak for an oppressed constituency (Landry and Maclean 1996: 5).
45 (or use of images that enhances feeling to gain knowledge) and videography (with documentary video and video clips) that evoke the sense s to be able to deepen our understanding of diasporic ecoscapes, which include human/nature/spirit relationships.
46 CHAPTER 2 GEOLOGICAL, ETHNOGRAPHIC AND HISTORICAL LANDSCAPE S OF WESTERN CUBA AND YORB DIASPORA In movement on a path through the landscape something is constantly slipping away and something is constantly gained in a relational tactile world of impressions, signs, sights, smells and physical sensations. To understand a landscape truly it must be fel t, but to convey some of this feeling to others it has to be talked about, recounted, or written and depicted. In the process of movement a landscape unfolds or unravels before an observer. (Tilley 1994: 31) Landscape historically, culturally, politically economically and spiritually is created through many processes over time. The same is true for the landscape of Cuba. T o attempt a transformative anthropological tale, this chapter begins with a recognition of the influence of historical, geological, c limatological and oceanic patterns that have been integral to the formation of Cuba and its people. It goes on to examine the human landscape, including the first settlements in Cuba, and then the landscape of colonial Cuba, with an emphasis on the diaspor a of the Yorb peoples from Africa. Thus, this story begins with the indispensable yet often overlooked recognition of the ecological and geological connections between Cuba and West Africa. Then, it continues to discuss the diverse human and biological history of Cubas landscape T he section on first peoples notes the contributions of Cubas Tano and Ciboney peoples for whom certain customs, foods, technology, and linguistic terms have become fundamental to Cuban practice and identity. These people ha ve resided on the island for thousands of years longer than any other, and therefore influence more recent diaspora populations and their human -nature relationships. Then, the chapter proceeds to discuss those who came during Spanish colonialism. In order to more fully understand the heterogeneity on which Cuban culture is founded and continues to dynamically be produced, we must be aware of the many peoples who came to Cuba, either willingly or unwillingly, including the Spanish, Moors, and Africans.
47 The connections between Cuba and West Africa are not merely those of demographic and cultural history. They are also geoecological, beginning with the ancient geological history that predates Cuba as an archipelago. Since culture and environment interpenetrat e one another (Bale 1998: 3), the path of interpreting human-ecological interactions must include an understanding of lands and waters on their own ecological terms as well as the historical interactions between humans and the landscape. The content of this chapter follows the lead of nineteenth -century geologist Charles Lyell who integrated an historical approach into his understanding of nature. He achieved this end by incorporating elements such as time and change along with land, climate, animals and plants. His Principles of Geology (1832), asserts that nature must be understood in a larger historical and geographical context1, 2. Lyell posited a picture of the world as perpetually new, made and remade forever. Through noting the rise and fall of mountain chains and land bridges, he explained: The surface of the globe is not simply a one time, divine contrivance, but the result o f a continuing play of observable natural forces wind, rain, sun against a pliable crust. Ecology must not be understood as a permanent system installed once and for all by God (as cited in Worster 1998: 138). More recently, and in a similar vein, R onald W. Bailey encouraged scholars to integrate aspects of natural history such as latitudinal distinctions and ocean currents into a more encompassing and thereby relevant story to improve our understanding of the 1 Glacken also d iscusses historical changes of nature, but focuses not on geology or geography, but on the changing perceptions of nature throughout Western history. 2 Lyell contributes the idea of species dispersal to ecological biology, by surmising that plants could not have been continuously in the exact same places based on newly discovered fossils. Also, he expanded the image of natures disturbers to include other natural species besides humans. Specifically, he is famous for his polar bear example. The Greenland polar bear floated to sea on a chunk of ice and reached Iceland where it killed deer and seals thereby changing grass and fish populations, affecting insects and snails (Worster 1998: 139). Thus, one species (besides only human) can alter drastically all classes of living creation.
48 specifics of forced African migrations, livelihoods and human/nature relationships (Ronald C. Foreman, Jr. lecture, UF, April 20093). Geological and Geomorphological Features: Cuba and Africa Connected T he Republic of Cuba comprises largely the main island of 105,006 sq km (40,543 sq mi) about 1,199 km (745 mi) long and 200 km (124 mi) across its widest and 35 km (22 mi) across at its narrowest points. Several other islands are also included in contemporary Cuba geography and nationhood: La Isla de la Juventud or the Isle of Youth (formerly kno wn as the Isle of Pines), which is about 3,056 sq km (1,180 sq mi) and four clusters of smaller archipelagos the Sabana, the Colorados, the Jardines de la Reina, and the Canarreos islands, along with numerous other smaller islands off of the coast of the m ain island (Stoner 1999). In geological terms, Cuba is one of the worlds oldest archipelagos. Along with the rest of the Greater Antilles and the eastern edge of the Lesser Antilles, it formed after the shifts of the tectonic plates (the large rigid secti ons that the earths crust is made of which move very slowly alongside each other over long periods of time). Four primary stages make up the geological evolution of Cuba: Paleozoic Jurassic, Jurassic Cretaceous, Cretaceous -Paleogene (Eocene), and Paleog ene (Eocene) Holocene. Centuries ago Cuba or ProtoCuba, as Iturrande  references it, was part of a huge continent that the German author of the continental drift theory, Alfred Wegener, named Pangaea. Pangaea comprised, among other territories, North America, South America and African lands (Figure 2 1). It is intriguing to consider that Cuba and Africa were parts of the same continent. 3 Ronald C. Foreman, Jr. Lecture, 3 April 2009; the title: Grand Challenges Facing African American Studies and Higher Education in the 21st Century: Reflections from Forty Years in a Yet Emerging Discipline. Sponsored by African American Studies at the University of Florida.
49 Figure 2 1 Maps showing the tectonic shifts and effect on how Cuba came to be. According to the maps above the Triassic period was 200 million years ago (http://geology.com/pangea continental drift.gif ). During this time, a narrow and long depression began to extend from the European Mediterranean Sea to the North Atlantic Ocean. This tectonic shift moved huge masses of Cuba, along with the rest of the Greater Antilles. The eastern edge of the Lesser Antilles formed after the shifts of the tectonic plates (the large rigid sections that the earths crust is made of which move very slowly alongside each other over long periods of time). The Caribbean Sea comprises one of these plates. The actual island of Cuba, according to geological theory, rose twice from the depths of the sea due to volcanic acti vity. About 70 to 50 million years ago, three chains of volcanic mountains emerged from the oceans floor and created the majority of the Caribbean islands (except for the Bahamas). According to Rogozinski,
50 the first of these mountain ranges ran east along what is now the northern coast of Cuba and Haiti, a middle and much longer chain of volcanoes created the Cayman Islands then continued east along the southern coast of Cuba (the Sierra Maestre) and through the central regions of Haiti (the Cordillera Cen tral) and Puerto Rico (El Yunque) coming to an end at what is known today as the Virgin Islands. The third southernmost chain created the Blue Mountains of Jamaica and extended along the southern coast of Haiti (1994: 5). During this same time, similar vo lcanic forces created the Andes Mountains in South America and the Atlas Mountains of western Africa. Waters and Migrations Water is essential to the history of Cuba, to its present, and to its alternative modernity. Figure 2 2. Matanzas Bay. Scholars assert that most all of the plant, animal and human life migrated from east to west meaning from the Northern coast of Venezuela to Trinidad and then throughout the Caribbean. The first residents of the island, its endemic species, were of flora and fauna. Large marine life remnants are found along the coasts and in the caves indicating that marine life was able to and did frequent the archipelago of Cuba, like the following example of the remains found in a Matanzan cave.
51 Figure 2-3. Bone remains found in Matanzan Cave Restos Fosiles de Megalocnus Rodens in Abra de Figueroa, Matanzas. Museo Historico Provincial de Matanzas Even the caves where these remains were found, the Cuevas de Bellamar (2500 meter long caves with underground streams) were created over millions of years, due to Cubas underground riverine system, which caused Cubas limestone bedrock to erode, creating the Viales Hills and more than 20,000 caves. These caves have offered glimpses into the past to understand some of the types and habits of flora, fauna and indigenous residents, as well as are being current tourist attractions. Humans also made their way to the island via the ocean. The majority of the first settlers came from South America. Since material culture4 like artifacts of chert and flint (raw material used to make items) were distributed widely, archeologists assess that these early islanders were competent sea travelers (Wilson 1997:5). Centuries later, many other settlers arrived from Spain and Africa, and even China. Cuba's location on the waters situates it within close proximity to 4 As archeologists use the term, material culture refers to a wide range of objects that relate to all aspects of human social, economic, spiritual, ceremonial, and personal life (Righter in Wilson 1997:70). Object 2-1. Photostory of Bellamar Caves, Matanzas, Cuba (.mov, 57 MB Quicktime required).
52 Haiti, the United States, Mex ico's Yucatan Peninsula, and Jamaica, which has allowed people to migrate easily onto and off the island for thousands of years. This movement has helped form a rich fusion of peoples and customs throughout the Caribbean, and particularly in Cuba. The Gulf Stream One of the most influential currents that has contributed to this movement of diverse humans, including their different ideas, practices and artifacts, is the Gulf Stream. European discovery of the Gulf Stream dates to the 1513 expedition of Juan P once de Len, after which it became widely used by Spanish ships sailing from the Caribbean to Spain. In 1786, Benjamin Franklin studied and mapped the current in detail : On his transatlantic voyages, Benjamin Franklin noted changes in water temperatu re, atmospheric conditions, and the presence of whales feeding on plankton in warmer waters. He also noticed that similar ships taking different routes across the Atlantic made the crossing at different speeds and that the shorter course was not necessaril y the fastest. This all made sense when his cousin Timothy Folger, a Nantucket sea captain, told him about the Gulf Stream and drew its location on a chart of the Atlantic. The Franklin/Folger chart of the Gulf Stream was amazingly accurate. ( Muse des art s et mtiers, 2008) Figure 2 4. The Franklin/Folger map of the Gulf S tream, 1769 (Muse des arts et mtiers, 2008) To more fully understand the Gulf Stream, please click on the Object below to view a video clip from the Museum of Technology in Paris, France.
53 Object 2 2. Film clip of the Gulf Stream. Museum of Technology, ( Muse des arts et mtiers, Paris, France, visited March 2007) (AVI, 86.1 MB) First Peoples About 6000 years ago, during the Archaic period, the first indigenous peoples began to inhabit the Caribbean (Wilson 1997: 3). The earliest evidence of human colonizatio n in Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic sites date around 35004000 BCE and includes flaked-stone tools similar to the Yucatan peninsular (Wilson 1997: 4). These peoples are considered to have lived through fishing, collect ing wild foods, and hunting s mall animals on the isla nds and from the seas Before 2000 BCE, most of these nonhorticultural peoples who migrated into the Caribbean are assumed to have come from the northeast coast of South America (Nuez Jimenez 2002). A key chronological note is tha t these humans inhabited the Caribbean islands including Cuba for thousands of years longer than the later African, Asian and European people who succeeded them. Since the indigenous peoples of Cuba inhabited the island for much longer than
54 any other group, it is necessary to acknowledge first their presence on the island. Additionally, some of the crops, technology and possibly religious knowledge that they brought with them remain staple crops and cultural highlights in Cuba to this day. The second wave o f people to migrate to the Caribbean islands arrived from the Orinoco region of Venezuela. These Saladoid people (500250 BC), who were known for their ceramics and agriculture, came from the Orinoco drainage and river systems of South Americas northeast coast (Wilson 1997: 5). Here an intimate connection between water, movement and migration is made obvious. Due to the trade winds and the gulf currents, travel by boat is easier to go north than south. Ocean currents join the trade winds west through the Caribbean sometimes reaching a velocity of 5 knots. The Taino (AD 10001492), an Arawak speaking people, are the people who were residents in Cuba, Haiti, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico at the time of Columbus voyage. According to Ortiz (1993) the Taino had brought the agricultural knowledge of the conuco, or small mound farm, which is still used today in many parts of the Caribbean. He continues to explain how the Tainos left us many of our [Cuban] foods, especially vegetables and fruits like pineapple, the corn of the tanos, boniato5, tomato, peanut and yucca now enjoyed in faraway continents by white people too (1993: 11). Yucca, or cassava, was not only the staple crop for the Tainos, but remains a staple for Cubans and other Caribbean and A merican (South, Central and North) countries. Many plants, trees and fruits like the ones mentioned as well as mamey taonuco and what many Cubans, particularly Afro Cubans, consider sacred, the ceiba, come from the Taino language. 5 Boniato is like a white sweet potatoe.
55 John Kircher, author of A Neotropical Companion: An Introduction to the Animals, Plants and Ecosystems of the New World Tropics (1999), points out that the ceiba is one of the most common of Neotropical trees. He posits that this majestic tree probably originated in the American tropics, and dispersed naturally to West Africa (Baker 1983 in Kircher 1999) He continues to elucidate that the Mayans considered this tree sacred, and still today when farmers clear the land for slash and burn agriculture, often they will not fell the cei ba. In Cuba, the ceiba holds significant meaning for Yorb practitioners and Cuban laypeople alike. Every year on New Years Eve, people congregate around the enormous ceiba tree located in Regla, just outside Habana. Additionally, under many ceiba, small parcels of offerings lie. The Carib women particularly held special roles in their society. They were recognized for their matrilineal descent system, which maintained inheritance of rank through the female line, with females sometimes inheriting chief p ositions. The representations of the lineage's ancestors, called zemis, passed through the female line. Zemis are physical incarnations of gods, spirits or ancestors. They were used by families and villages to unify magico religious institutions to help woman with childmany which speak, and others that make grow the things that they eat, and others that bring rain, and others that make the wind blow (Arrom 1974:26). Women were both producers and distributors of certain goods that were high status like w ooden stools, household objects, and "a thousand things of cotton" (Las Casas Keegan 1997: in 113). Ortiz comments on the Taino womans ability to weave cotton items. She made the undergarments for women to use, nets for the men to fish, and the jamacas from whence comes the renowned hammockthough no longer used as a bed for sleeping as it was and is in the Amazon of South America as well as in Mexico. Two of the technological advancements of the Taino include the cibucn and the cunyaya The latter is still used by farmers to extract juice
56 (ibid .) Additionally, many concepts and words remain integral components of the contemporary Cubans vocabulary. Some examples include the previously mentioned as well as cacique, barbacoa (barbecue), canoa (canoe), a nd tabaco (tobacco) Elements of nature appear to have been intimately integrated into the Taino religion. One story about the jurican, the Taino word for a God of thunder and wind and our source of the word hurricane, speaks to the Taino understanding of nature and gods : The Tainos will look up to the mountains as sleeping or meditating gods and will talk for generations of how for example the great god Yukiju aka el Yunke, highest mountain in the island of Puerto Rico will fight Juracaan which was the big god of the big storms. Today we know that a big elevation will affect the way an atmospheric system moves. Back then it was a battle between two powerful gods. (Onaway TrustThe Taino project). T he Ciboney, which is Arawakan for cave dweller, r esided in the Greater Antilles including Cuba and Hispaniola. In the caves in Matanzas, Cuba one of the key sites of this investigation human remains have been found suggesting that people possibly the Ciboney were residing there Bosch, a Caribbean histor ian, contends that the Ciboney were probably from the Arawakan line, and thereby originally from the Orinoco region in Venezuela (Bosch 2003: 43). The Caribs, like the Ciboney, were alive to witness the harsh realities of European colonialism. Columbus On 17 October 1492 during his first voyage, Christopher Columbus arrived on the island, and named it Isla Juana after Prince Juan, the heir apparent. Emilio Castelar (1892) describes Columbus impressions of Cuba in the following terms: Of all Columbus' 'di scoveries,' Cuba stirred in him the deepest, most affecting emotions. He wrote in rapturous terms of "its streams strewn with the showered petals of the myriad flowers that festooned their banks, the beautiful mountain ranges that stretched not far but ros e to lofty heights. The cool and aromatic groves, the yams that tasted like sweet chestnuts, the brightly plumaged birds and the inexhaustible aloes." Such enchantments led him to pronounce Cuba the "most beautiful land that eyes ever beheld." ( in Onaway Trust).
57 Columbus journal description of the Indians he met records their "Naked innocence and quick response to the influences of kindness rather than acts of force... Their hair, thick as a horse's mane, falls in long locks upon their shoulders. They are shapely of body and handsome of face. So ignorant of arms are they that they grasp swords by the blade! They are very gentle, without knowing what evil is, without killing, without stealing (Castelar 1892 in Onaway Organization) T he lives of the Taino and Ciboney res idents were altered irrevocably a s a consequence of the Spanish conquest. They were enslaved and their population dropped from an estimated sixty thousand in 1492 to approximately two thousand by 1550 (Brandon 1997:40). The story of Hatuey epitomizes the effects on the indigenous populations by the Spanish colonization of Cuba. In 1511, the Spanish conqueror Diego Velasquez, sailed from Hispaniola to Cuba. When he arrived, the Taino chieftain Hatuey, who had already witnessed Diegos acts of violence and massacre, nobly fought him to defend the island, using the tactic of attacking suddenly and then retreating to the hills. In time, though, the Spanish military besieged and defeated him. The Spanish Crown sentenced Hatuey to a public death, and he was burned alive at the stake. The Spanish priest, Bartolom de las Casas, recorded the words of the chieftain to his people: "These tyrants tell us they adore a God of peace and equality, yet they usurp our land and enslave us. They speak of an im mortal soul and of eternal rewards and punishments. They rob us, seduce our women and violate our daughters. Unable to match us in valour, these cowards cover themselves in iron that our spears cannot pierce." Subsequently, the Tainos were subjected to bar barous torture. As de las Casas described: "A village of around 2500 was wiped out. They [the Spaniards] set upon the Indians, slashing, disemboweling and slaughtering them until their blood ran like a river. And of those Tainos they kept alive they sent t o the mines, harnessing them to
58 loads they could scarcely drag and with fiendish sport and mockery hacking off their hands and feet and mutilating them in ways that will not bear description" (Castelar 1892). In 1550, the Indian slaves were freed and move d to independent communities on the periphery of major Cuban towns. There they did well, and during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, they moved into the eastern and central regions of Cuba (Brandon 1997:40). Despite the common message that the Indi ans were completely exterminated in Cuba, some groups today hail their indigenous heritage, including holding workshops and conferences (The Onaway Trust). Cubas cultural modernity is integrally linked to its historical legacy, which includes its geologi cal transformations, agricultural shifts, indigenous and African influences. Of these African influences probably outweigh all of the others (Palmi 2002; Ortiz 1921,1950; Barnet 1986). Historical Context of the Yorb in Africa To understand Yorb r eligious practitioners in Cuba, it is necessary to go to the banks of the Niger River, where a nascent Yorb cosmology coalesced. Yorb is not a unitary, cohesive population, but a configuration of 50 politically diverse kingdoms, including the Egba, Ket u, Ijebu, and the Ife (Busse 2000). Although heterogeneous, Matibag (1996) argues (like Thornton 2002) that these populations share a similar language, dress, mythology, history and ritual symbolism. Organized in a series of kingdoms with a complex social structure, the Yorb were guided under a theocratic autocracy where the oba (ogba) or king had absolute power over thousands of subjects through complex political systems and active trade networks. Their urban centers were some of the most densely populat ed in all of sub -Saharan Africa, and their sculptural art has been
59 compared to that of Europes in the classical period (450 BCE to 476 CE) (Sanchez 1997; Smith 1969). Figure 2 5. Map of Yorbland in West Africa. Figure 2 6. Map of Yorbland in West Africa.
60 A. B. Figure 2 7. Examples of head busts from West Africa, now displayed in the Louvre, Paris Particularly, Oyo was a hub of urban progress and market activity. In the 14th century its savannah plains was a hub of market exchange where com modities such as salt, copper, textiles, indigo, cowries and many other goods were traded. Commerce, crafts, cultivated crops and urban centers were typical in the tropical biomes of Western Africa. These biomes paralleled those of Cuba with its savannah grasslands, rainforests, mangroves and swamps. For instance, look at the following maps of the vegetation of Southwestern Nigeria and Western Cuba.
61 Figure 2 8. Map of vegetation areas in Nigeria. L ocated in West Africa on the Gulf of Guinea, t he terrain of the southern lowlands merge into central hills and plateaus including mountains in the southeast and plains in the north. The major river is the Niger, which flows southward through tropical rain forests and swamps to its delta in the Gulf of Guinea ( CIA ). Figure 2 9. Map of vegetation in Cuba.
62 Similar to Western Cuba, which comprises savanna, coastal forests with swamps and marsh ( Univerisity of Texas) the ecology of Nigeria comprises coastal forests, marshes and savanna inlands. According to John Thornton, the combination of ocean and river routes defined the shape of the Atlantic zone (1995: 15). The Niger River was considered by many Muslim writers and West African merchants as the Nile of the Sudan, while many Africans and outsiders alike conflated the Niger with merging rivers in Senegal, Gambia and the Benue into a single Nile of the Blacks connected at its final destination to the Nile of Egypt (Thornton 1995: 19). Although geographically not accurate, this conceptuali zation of riverine transportation is indicative of travel and therein trade. As Thornton indicates, West Africans had a well developed specialized maritime culture (1995: 37). Because of the extensive trading routes and commercial interconnections, Tho rnton suggests, cultural sharing and multilingualism would be widespread ( Ibid : 188). Waterways and the Black Atlantic : Rivers Run to the Sea The patterns of prevailing winds and ocean currents were critical to the formation of the black Atlantic. Pierr e and Hugette Chaunu and Frdric Mauro examining, respectively, the Spanish voyages from Seville to the Atlantic and the Portuguese navigation in the Atlantic, have both demonstrated that the customary trade routes, stopping points, and commercial develop ments were influenced primarily by these winds and currents (which are illustrated in the map below ). This map is found on the Burials at Sea (accessed April 2010). Most of the trade of market goods and intellectual ideas was based on the interconnections of rivers and coasts. What is now referred to as Guinea Bissau, for instance, was a web of creeks and lagoons that connected the various parts of the country, and allowed for frequent communication between the Gambia in the north and Sierra Leone to the south.
63 Figure 2 10. Map of ocean currents.
64 Figure 2 11. Prominent rivers and waterways of Yorbland. Due to these water routes, extensive trade networks in West Africa had been set up since at least A.D. 1300 when the Yorb were carrying on trade with peoples of the north, exchanging cloth, kola nuts, shea butter, copper, iron tools, salt and people for sale as slaves within West Africa for products they needed (Zaslavsky 1999: 201 National Park Service). Phillip Curtin estimates this trade to ha ve been no more than 500 4000 slaves a year (1990:40 41): From this trade and early West African slave trade by the Portuguese, a sizeable number of Africans ended up in Portugal and Spain. By the middle of the 16th century, 10,000 black people made up 10 percent of the population of Lisbon. Some had been manumitted. Some had purchased their freedom. Some were the offspring of African and Portuguese marriages and liaisons. Seville had an African population of 6000. These were some of the people accompanying Spanish explorers on the North American mainland. More importantly, this was the nascent beginning of the Transatlantic Slave Trade (Curtin 1990:40 11). Thus, waterways facilitated the trade of fish, salt and agricultural products as well as art styles religious items and lexicon (Thornton 2002: 190 191).
65 Figure 2 12. Map of rivers in West Africa: Senegal, Niger to the Benue Hence, water was decisive in the creation of trade networks and thereby cultural exchange. Water transportation networks brought the linguistically diverse people into close economic and cultural contact [which] tended to force linguistic accommodations (Thornton 1995: 189; 1 African Studies Center) particularly among the t hree dominant zones of Upper Guinea, Lower Guinea and the Angola Coas t. By the 1630s Yorb had emerged as a lingua franca along the coast from the Volta to Benin. Thus Yorb traditions and deities were revered on the coast even without obvious Yorb political domination. Bascom (1965:5) reminds us that the name Yorb was originally imposed by the Hausa or Fulani in reference to the people only from Oyo. Only later did Yoruba begin to include all the hetergoenous Africans who spoke the Yorb language. Brandon points out that [j]ust as Apulians, Sicila ns, and Calabians all became Italians in the United States, Oyos, Egbas, Ijebus, and Ijeshas all became Lucumis in Cuba. Often Lucumi is heralded as the translation of friends.
66 African Slavery and Enslaved Africans Forced to Migrate Another African tradition was one of slavery. Though very distinct from what occurred with the African slave trade, the motivation for Africans to engage in slavery must be understood within the internal dynamics and the history of the domestic political economy. From at least as early as the 1400s, West Africans were implementing raids on neighboring lands and carrying off people who became their slaves. Land was not private property, so to increase wealth, West Africans acquired slaves. A relevant example of this process is with the Sapes, the early inhabitants of Sierra Leone, who were neither creating empires nor large states (Thornton 1992: 106). Instead, slaves were acquired through warfare to increase the rulers income. Thus, Thornton argues that African par ticipation in the slave trade was voluntary and under the control of African decision makers (1992: 125). Civil strife and wars fueled the slave trade. Moreover, the slave supply increased as a result of the heightened conflicts described in the next par agraph. The capture of people from wars and raids fed into the economic interests of transatlantic capital and exploitative labor needed for the increasing sugar plantations. John Thornton, historian of Africa and the Atlantic particularly from the fifteen th through the eighteenth centuries, argues that the older anthropological tendency to see each ethnolinguistic group as a separate tribe and to ignore such factors as multilingualism or nonlinguistic cultural sharing have tended to force the real diver sity beyond its true limits (Thornton 2002: 191). Thus, he asserts that at most three truly culturally diverse areas [exist], and the seven subgroups within are often quite homogenous ( Ibid : 191192). Moreover, he points out that the slave trade took ce rtain regional and thereby cultural peoples more often than others bringing people of similar backgrounds together. This is a particularly relevant point when discussing Yorb ecological knowledge in the diaspora.
67 He proves his argument through following the ship records of which ports they went to predominantly, and where they picked up enslaved Africans. He promulgates that the ships in the interest of the ship captains would only go to one or two6 ports in Africa. Thornton continues his assertion that since only a couple of ports were used, an entire ship might be filled, not just with people possessing the same culture, but with people who grew up together (Thornton 2002: 195). Thornton sums up that Africans forced into migration may well have been a ble to communicate and thereby carry on their religious practices because: patterns of shipping and residence clearly put slaves of the same nation together (Thornton 2002: 202). Figure 2 13. Map of West Africa from 18th century7. 6 Thornton asserts that this would mostly happen on the Gold Coast since the ship could not be filled with gold, and thus this practice, called coasting was normally restricted to the Lower Guinea region (2002: 193). 7
68 The primary ports w ere located in the Bight of Benin, as shown in the following illustration. Figure 2 14. Bight of Benin. In the beginning of the 17th century, the Ewe invaded the region of Dahomey and neighboring kingdoms, like the flourishing Oyo, making the Yorb move to the Southeastern Nigerian coast. In the 18th century various Fulani and Dahomey enacted war and freed themselves from tribute and servitude under the Oyo kingdom, where the Yorb were running a highly organized system of complex social and political structures and active trade networks including those linking some of the most densely populated urban centers in all of sub -Saharan Africa (Thornton 1992; Brandon 1997; Smith 1969). Wh en the Oyo Empire collapsed in the 19th century, the region went into civil strife. Due to the already implemented lines of trade, which coincided with those of slave trafficking, many chiefs, priests and royalty of the Oyo Empire were enslaved and sold to slave ships headed to the Caribbean. Thus, t hese wars turned many of the former masters into slaves, who were then sold en masse across the Atlantic to help with the expanding sugar industry in the Americas and the Caribbean at the beginning of the eighte enth century (Ortz 195255; Courlander 1973:19; Sanchez 1997: 476). This is an important factor to consider because it reveals that many of the
69 Africans who were enslaved and brought to Cuba during the mid 1800s were, on the whole, well -educated, particu larly with specialized ritual knowledge since many in their homelands had filled a variety of religious roles from those of babalawos8 (high priests and specialists in divination) to those of musicians who had undergone the complex initiation rites require d to play the sacred bat drums (Sanchez 1997:477). These were the people who founded and became the experts of religious traditions in Cuba. This point is vital to consider when analyzing the diasporic dispersion of Africans in Cuba, for the captives who were transported to Cuba included royalty of the Oyo Empire, and thereby highly educated in the spiritual responsibilities of priesthood including knowing the special songs and rhythms to communicate with the spirits. Between the 16th and 19th centuries, at least 1.3 million Africans were enslaved and transported to Cuba (Casanova 1996). Cuban historian and economist Prez de la R iva estimates that 85 percent of those Africans who were enslaved were introduced to Cuba after 1800, and about 45 percent of al l the Africans who disembarked in Cuba after 1800 pertained to the line of Yorb9 and diverse tribes of Dahomey (cited in Casanova 1996:9). Yet, some scholars dispute Thorntons conclusions, and instead assert that the regional variation of enslaved Africans was immense. For instance, Lopes Valdez (1992), an ethnologist from the Cuban Academy of Sciences, explains that: Yorb from whom bata drums came, were not the main ethnic group brought to Cuba, but their religious practices were ultimately the most widespreadThe geographic area from which slaves were taken during the slave trade was enormous. Its northern bounds were from Senegal to the center of Africa (Lake Chad) to Kenya. Its southern borders were a line along the southern borders of Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique. People were taken from both coasts and the central regions as well. 8 Awo means knowledge in Yoruba, and Baba means Father. Babalawo signifies a person who is well learned in the traditions of Yoruba religios knowledge. It holds similar prestige due to the rigor of scholarship and initiation require das the title of Ph.D. holds for people in the United States and Europe. 9 These were Yoruba of the linguistic subfamily Kwa, and less of the Tkua (Nup) of the north of Yorb.
70 Figure 2 15. West Africans forcibly transported to western Cuba. He continues to elucidate the four primary groups of Africans that came to Cuba: Where Cuba's slaves were taken from in Africa varied over time. Four primary ethnic groups accounted for most of the Africans brought to Cuba were: Bantu 400,00, Yorb 275,000, Ibo/Ibibio/Ijaw 240,000, Ewe/Fon 200,000, Others 185,000 (Valdez 1992). The Bantu are mainly from the Congo, and introduced the religion Palo Monte to Cuba. According to Valdez, the Yorb were the second major ethnic group to arrive on Cuban soils. T hey were from southwestern Nigeria and mainly disembarked between 1820 to 1860s. They brought the religion on which this research is based, called Regla de Ocha or Santera. The related groups of Ibo, Ibibio and Ijaw from southeastern Nigeria brought the A bakua secret society; they began to come around 1762. Lastly, the Ewe/Fon groups were from Dahomey, in what is now called Benin. They mainly arrived between 1750 and 1800, later invading the Yorb and selling them into slavery in the 1800s. With the Ewe/F on came the religion called Regla Arara, which is mostly located in Matanzas, Cuba and, according to Valdez, has been mostly assimilated by Santeria. Valdez
71 notes that the Yorb religion became more widespread than the others, even though the Yoruba were not the most populous, because of this practice of assimilation. This tradition was based on a dynamic integration with other religions, as it allowed practitioners to follow more than one: including Palo Monte, Catholicism, Spiritism and Abakua membership Hence, although Cuban culture and religion is a synthesis of Taino, Christian saints, Spanish Catholicism, complex spiritual and religious cosmology of various African religions brought across with slavery along with popular Folk Catholicism and Spiritis m (Busse 2000: 33; Rodriguez 2004; Ortiz 1993, 1986; Barnet 2005; Lachateer 2005), the Yorb influence is said to far exceed that of any other. For the sake of simplicity, this investigation mostly refers to Yorb (including the cognates of Lucum, Santera, Regla de Ocha and Orisha). Yet, in reality, many practitioners integrate Spiritism,10 Catholism, and Palo Monte11, as the narratives of later chapters indicate. Consequently, though Santera can be seen as the primary religion of Cuba (Gonzlez Wippler 1996: 2), practitioners regularly employ the concepts and practices of other belief -systems (including what can be glossed over as Western science) to adjust to their families and their needs. In sum, waterways inside of Africa were crucial in the development of Yorbl and one of West Africas first cultures and great civilizations. And, as water united the South American Indigenous world to the Caribbean, water also united and tied people of African descent to the Atlantic world. Thus, skills of river navigation, agricultural techniques, and religious prowess including deftness of divination, precision in drum rhythms, and knowledge of chants and stories were transported along with the people and their spirit s. 10 Based on midnineteenth century, French scholar, Allan Kardecs Spiritist Codification Spiritism became tightly interwoven with Afro Cuban religions. 11 Religion brought by the enslaved Africans from the Congo that also works with natural elements ( palo refers to a branch or stick).
72 Cubas prime geographical location, between Europe and the colonies in the Caribbean and Latin America, led to it becoming the stop off point where food was stored for Spanish colonial traffic. As Cuban anthropologist Fernando Ortiz explains, at the b eginning of the sixteenth centurythe conquistadors gold -mining activities and the cultivation of yucca fields and stock raising to supply cassava bread and dried meat for the conquerors expeditions took preeminence (Ortiz  1995: 5). Since Matanza s and Havana housed the major ports for colonial traffic and for all ships coming from Europe and Africa, these provinces especially Matanzas in the western region of Cuba also hold the cradle of Yorb religion in Cuba Colonial Cuba : Aquifers, Agricultur e, and Migration The water conditions of Western Cuba are a critical factor in understanding Yorb practitioners in Cuba. Due to the geological, soil and climate conditions including the karstic terrain, tropical weather and nitrogen rich soils, the Weste rn region of Cuba became the hub of the countrys agricultural production. Additionally, since that region housed the countrys two prominent ports, it also became the primary entrance for immigrants, both voluntary and involuntary. Therefore, water, soils and rock are fundamental to the formation of Cubas geological and human history. Additionally, the Aquifers12though often unacknowledgedare critical to Western Cubas historical, social and political formation, especially in respect to the masses of We st Africans who were forcibly moved to this region. Most of the underground aquifers are karstic13, and they are vital because many of the above ground rivers and small streams do not flow during the dry season (from November to April). The city of Matanzas (and many other cities) are 12 An aquifer is a geologic formation of porous rock or sand that holds water underground. 13 Karstic refers to the predominance of limestone rock, which is porous rock that is able to hold large bodies of water underground.
73 supplied from karstic aquifers as are the agricultural and industrial centers in the province of Matanzas (e.g., sugar -cane mills, thermoelectric plants, cement factories, and rum factories) Since more than 66% of Cuba is form ed by karstic rocks, the relationship between karstic environments and Cuban industry is vital to examine. In Cuba, about 44,000 sq km are naked karst or covered with thick layers of so i ls, mainly ferralitic in mountainous and flat zones. About 18,000 s q km of karstified rocks are covered with red and brown soils and about 8700 sq km are under thick soils of diverse types. Yet, the Southern Plain of La Habana Matanzas is a region made up mainly of organogenic limestone, marls and calcareous marls from th e MioceneQuaternary revealing a naked karst that at best is covered with thin to medium soils. As Indian physicist and environmental rights activist Vandana Shiva (2008) affirms in Soil not Oil: Environmental Justice in an Age of Climate Crisis, scholars must call attention to the soils of a region, and not limit an understanding of modernity to merely its oil -based industrialization. These soils of Western Cuba, albeit thin in depth, are highly productive. Therefore, they have made up the principal zone s of agricultural production on the island, and therein required significant human labor. This understanding of the relationship between the soils and agriculture in Western Cuba is noteworthy to understand African diaspora forced migration in Cuba, since many of the Africans were brought to help with specific agricultural needs, particularly sugar production, but also tobacco. Western Cuba as Agriculural Hub for Tobacco and Sugar The first peoples smoked tobacco, or cohba as the Taino called it, not to be confused with cohoba (a psychoactive powder ground from certain seeds taken by caciques to help cure illness and communicate with spirits and ancestors). When the Spanish arrived, they were enticed, and Matanzas became the central location to cultivate th e first commercial crop of the region.
74 Western Cuba became an agricultural hub. And, as Ortiz asserts, [t]obacco and sugar are the two most important figures in the history of Cuba (Ortiz  1995: 4). Throughout his book, Cuban Counterpoints, Ortiz refers to sugar and tobacco as metaphoric persons, highlighting their characters, contributions and causalities on Cuba society and ecology. Though they are both plants grown in Cuba, the differences in their biology, cultivation techniques, processing a nd marketing have made their distinctions reflected in the history of the Cuban nation from its very ethnological formation to its social structure, its political fortunes, and its international relations (Ortiz  1995: 4 He notes that this is in pa rt due to the climate and location of Cuba. He elucidates that the climate for sugarcane to be able to grow is determined by the isothermal lines of 68 degrees, and the zone that is able to produce sugar lies between latitude 22 degrees North (Havana) and 22 degrees South (Rio de Janeiro). He continues to expand the discussion of why Cubas environment is the best suited for cultivating sugar cane even though all of the West Indies is located within this geographical region since, [i]n no other part of the world do sun, rainfall, land, and winds collaborate as they do there to produce sugar in those little natural sugar mills of the cane stalks (Ortiz  1995: 7). As for tobacco, Ortiz explains that the soil and climate advantages are so evident in th e Cuban product, that there is no reason even to expound upon them. Fernando Coronil, a Venezuelean anthropologist working in the United States who wrote the introduction to the Duke University Press edition of Ortizs book, Cuban Counterpoints aptly sum marizes how Ortiz unpacks some of the socio-political significance behind agricultural transformations of the western region of Cuba: As metaphorical constructs condensing a multiplicity of meanings, tobacco and sugar stand for themselves, as agricultural products, as well as for their changing conditions of
75 production. Tobacco represents a native plant from which is made a product of great individuality and uniqueness, but also relations of production marked by domestic control over the labor process, ind ividual craftsmanship, and the flexible rhythms of seasonal time. Sugar on the other hand, represents not only a generic product derived from an imported plant, but also stands for industrial capitalist relations of production that reduce people to commod ities, homogenize social relations and products, and subject labor to the impersonal. (  1995: xxii). Figure 2 16. A Painting of tobacco fields in Matanzas. Faye V. Harrison (2007: 80), who wrote an entry on Fernando Ortiz in The International Encyc lopedia of the Social Sciences explains: Through the poetic deployment of these entities as metaphors, he offered a holistic analysis of these paradigmatic commodities as both material objects and socially constructed historical actors in a world shaped at once by human practice and the wider structural forces that constrain it. Critical of reductionist interpretations of Cubas colonial and neo colonial experience, Ortizs contrapuntal method offered an alternative to the dominant canons of anthropology a nd history as established within the Northern Hemisphere. Sugar required land and lots of slaves. The slaves included whites, blacks, Moors, black Africans, Chinese, and others (Ortiz  1995: 60). Some of the others included Ladinos When the early Spanish explorers came to Cuba, so did free, Spanish -speaking Africans, known as Ladinos in the literature. T he famous, now classic book on the litigation history of interracial marriage and mating in 19th Century Cuba Verena Martinez -Aliers Marriage, Class and
76 Colour in 19th Century Cuba gives insights on this population. Examples of Ladinos include t he al Moravids and al Mohads who were Islamized Africans of Berber and Arab heritage, commonly referred to as Moors; they integrated aspects of their North A frican culture within a developing Spanish culture from 7111492 (Daniel 2005: 121). Yet most Ladinos, or Africans in Spain, originated in the Kongo. They came to the Iberian Peninsula with the Portuguese. The Spanish appreciated that the Ladinos were Cath olic converts with some knowledge of Spanish customs and language. Some of these people had been manumitted, born free or had purchased their freedom, so Spain first sent these free Christian Ladinos to supply labor and populate the New Spain (National P ark Service, accessed 10 Sept 2009). That these Ladinos had been Christianized to varying degrees was important to King Ferdinand, who initiated the African slave trade on September 3, 1501. In a letter to the Governor of Hispaniola, he said: In view of ou r earnest desire for the conversion of the Indians to our Holy Catholic Faith, and seeing that, if persons suspect in Faith went there, such conversion might be impeded, we cannot consent to the immigration of Moors, heretics, Jews, re -converts or persons newly converted to our Holy Faith, unless they are Negro or other slaves who have been born in the power of Christians who are our subjects and nationals and carry out our express permission ( Williams 1971:41 42). Afro -Spaniards came with the first wave of European contact along with several other Spanish cultural segments of regional and class segments (e.g., Andalucians, Canarios, Castellanos, Asturianos, Gallegos, and Catalans) (Daniel 2005: 121). Additionally, the Haitian Revolution (17911804) and the Wars of Independence in Spanish America (1810 1825) encouraged many enslaved and freed Africans and Afrodescendants to travel to Cuba and other Caribbean countries like Puerto Rico, Martinique, Guade loupe and Dominica as well as Louisiana in the southern United States and back to France. Seven thousand a ffranchis (free people of color), slaves and French refugees from the former French colony of Saint Dominigue came into Cuba between 1803 and 1808. Additionally, people
77 of African descent migrated from Louisiana and Florida to Cuba as Michele Reid depicts in her dissertation, Negotiating a Slave Regime: Free People of Color in Cuba, 1844-1868: The islands free population of African descent increased rapidly throughout the first half of the nineteenth century through a variety of ways. Immigration, involuntary or voluntary, served as one stimulus. In 1763, at the end of the Seven Years War between Spain, Britain and France, the Spanish Crown relinq uished its Florida territory to Britain. The geopolitical exchange forced Spain to evacuate over three thousand people from the region. The Spanish government relocated the bulk of these refugees, eightyfour families, to a new settlement in the Matanza s countryside of Cuba, popularly called known as Ceiba Mocha. Among the evacuees were four free pardo and nine free moreno families. (Reid 2004: 34) Subsequent territorial shifts renewed migratory movements of libres de color to Cuba when the United Stat es gained control over Florida (1821) and Louisiana (1803). British Florida lasted for twenty years, before being returned to Spanish control in 1783. The colony remained under Spanish rule until 1821, when it was sold to the United States. Free individu als of color, such as pardo Juan Romero, recalled relocating to the island when St. Augustine, Florida became the United States.14 Similarly, the transfer caused families, like Toms and Agustina lvarez and their young son to leave St. Augustine. They r eestablished themselves in Havana, where the lvarezs son Toms, became a tailor and served in Havanas pardo militia.15 Libres de color from Louisiana also resettled in Havana. For instance, Antonio Merlin, a moreno libre and a native of New Orleans, mad e his living as blacksmith in Cuba.16 These circum -Caribbean relocations demonstrated the mobility and viability of free men and women of African descent in their adopted homeland. (Reid 2004: 14). The slave trade to Cuba began earlier and lasted longer tha n in the rest of the Americas/ Caribbean. While Africans did not arrive in the U.S. until 1619, and Brazil in 1538, the slaves not ladinos were brought from Africa to Cuba as early as 1521. The trade ended in the U.S. in the 1860s and in Brazil in the 1850s, but in Cuba lasted until the late 1870s ( Valdez 1992) despite the fact that slavery had been abolished in 1807. In Haiti, by contrast, the slave trade had ended in 1791 with the Revolution. 14 Juan Romero to Cuba Captain General, Havana, 3 May 1844, ANC AP, Leg. 140, E xp. 12. 15 Toms lvarez to Cuba Captain General, Havana, 30 April 1844, ANC AP, Leg. 140, Exp. 31. 16 Antonio Merlin to Cuba Captain General, Havana, 17 May 1844, ANC AP, Leg. 140, Exp. 19.
78 In 1828, Cuba produced more sugar than all of the West Indies; and the base of the industry was slave labor (Turner 2000:4617). Thus, with the help of primarily African labor, mechanized technology and international craving, Cuba began to control the interna tional market on the trade of sugar T he 1800s was a pivotal epoch for Cuba: Between 1815 and 1840, sugar exports more than tripled, growing from 45,396 tons to 161,248 tons. Between 1834 and 1839, the 35,000 European immigrants and 27,000 enslaved Afric ans arrived in Cuba. Figure 2 17. Map of Cuba illustrating the areas of sugarcane cultivation. Western Cubas rich sugar district in Sabanilla, Matanzas held many of the sugar plantations like: the Triumvirato sugar plantation, the neighboring cana pl antation, the Concepcin plantation, the San Lorenzo and the San Miguel plantations Matanzas was one of the regions that saw intensive development of sugar plantations during the colonial era. Consequently, many enslaved Africans were imported to support the sugar industry, particularly during the first half of the nineteenth century. For example, in 1792 there were 1900 slaves in Matanzas, roughly 30% of its population. In 1817, the slave population of Matanzas had grown to 10,773, comprising nearly 50% of the overall population. By 1841, 53,331 slaves made up 17Turner, Mary. 2000. Fuerza de trabajo china contratada en Cuba (18471874). Del Caribe. Casa del Caribe Santiago de Cuba. No. 32: 4652.
79 62.7% of the population of Matanzas. Census figures for 1859 put the Matanzas slave population at 104,519. Matanzas was the site of several slave insurrections and plots, including the infamous Esca lera conspiracy (discovered in late 1843). Due to the high number of both slaves and, importantly, free Afro -Cubans in Matanzas, the retention of African traditions is especially strong there. In 1898, Matanzas became the location of the first action in the Spanish/American War. American Navy vessels bombarded the city on April 25th 1898, just after the beginning of the war. The Wars for Cuban Independence were particulary important for people of color, since they earned prestige as military officers, and t hey were fighting for their own independence as well as the independence from colonialsm. Antonio Maceo is a prime example. Free People of Color in Cuba and Livelihoods In addition to the free people of color who migrated to Cuba, enslaved Africans manumi tted and became free once they were there. These free people of color made up three thousand four hundred people or twenty percent of the industrys labor (Reid 2004: 38). Hence, the following section explores the lives of libres de color or free people of African descent in Cuba, beginning with those people who migrated to Cuba of their own accord as immigrants and then the Africans who came in bondage but eventually became free while in Cuba through mechanisms of manumission including se lf purchase. Next, this section details some of the livelihoods and the economic sector that free people of color occupied. After an analysis of some of the impacts of libres de color on the politics of the nation, this section outlines some of the influen ces they had on the culture of Cubanness. In summary, although most accounts of AfroCubans do not integrate an examination of free people of color, limiting their analyses to the Africans who arrived in Cuba through chains of bondage and remained slaves, free people of African descent in Cuba are an integral aspect of Cuban society, religion, culture and history.
80 Manumission, Self purchase In addition to immigration, the free population of color in the first half of the nineteenth century grew due to Spa nish -Cuban legislation concerning slavery. As early as 1526, a Royal Decree allowed slaves in Cuba to buy their freedom ( Valdez 1992). Through both manumission and self -purchase (or coartacin), enslaved Africans and people of various degrees of African de scent were able to become free Cubans of color ( libres d e color ). Since Spanish law recognized the right to own property and make contracts, enslaved men and women were able to sell their services as cook, coachman, tailor, midwife and other trades, and keep their salaries (Reid 2004). In 1774, 170,783 souls were broken down into the following: Table 2 1. Population figures for 1774. Furthermore, according to Cuban colonial policy under Spanish rule, Afro -Cubans were able to buy their freedom after seven years of servitude. Thus, by the mid19th century, free people of color formed 1/6 of the population (Murphy 1993 in Busse 2000; Reid 2004). The following chart is based on Kiples Blacks in Colonial Cuba and Lachataer information (in Reid 2004 a nd Lachataer 2005). Free people of color in Cuba embodied a powerful contradiction in societies that maintained slavery: they were not white and free or black and slave...[a]s W.E.B. Du Bois, Paul
81 Table 2 2. Population figures for free people of colo r from 17921841. Gilroy18, and other scholars of race and identity in colonial and slave societies of the Americas suggest, free people of color were entrenched in a realm of duality (Reid 2004: 65). One example would be Jos Antonio Aponte. Aponte ill ustrates what Kondo (1990) and Wagner (1991) proffer with their scholarship on single persons holding multiple identities that must be historically and socially contextualized to be understood. Aponte was a carpenter, retired military officer, and leader o f a cabildo de nacin. Yet, as a person of color in colonial Cuba, he was still subjected to legal restrictions. For instance, legislation negated the possibility that libres de color could hold positions that were designated learned professions and civil positions such as government bureaucrats, lawyers, doctors, priests, and pharmacists (Reid 2004: 65). Nonetheless, holding a position as a military officer and being a leader of a cabildo assured prestige and stature. 18 W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk (New York: Bantam, 1989 , 23; Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993)
82 Caibildos de Nacin in Cuba: Ethnic Congregations In terms of transmission of knowledge and customs, enslaved Africans, free Africans and miscegenated, culturally creolized Afro -Cubans often shared customs in a hierarchically organized cabildo, or cabildos de nacin as they were known and legislated from the Spanish government. According to Spanish law, Afro Cubans, like Spanish people, were obliged to belong to mutual aid societies called cabildos. Cabildo membership was based on ethnicity, and it was a socio religious and cultural, mutual aid organization for free and slave men and women of African desce nt (Reid 2004:75; see also Cabrera 1954:24; Ortiz 1921: 3-16; Sanchez 1997: 477). At these cabildos19, which had their own governing body and place to meet, old residents and new ar rivals carried out traditional, religious ceremonies, as well as relaxed and played together. Thus, these cabildos20 offered group identity, ethnic cohesion and united enslaved Africans with free women and men of African descent in Cuba (Reid 2004: 75). In Cuba, the hub of Afro Cuban cabildos was located in Matanzas. 19 Deschamps Chapeaux, El negro en la economa habanera, 177. For a detailed discussion of cabildos de nacin, see Fernando Ortiz, Los cabildos afrocubanos, Revista Bimestre Cubana 16 (JanFeb 1921): 1011, Howard, Changing History 21. 20 Not only does Thornton argue that slave ships would often have large numbers of people from similar backgrounds due to African systems of riverine trade and the slave ship system of going to thre e primary ports, but the laws in Cuba provided fecund soil for cultural and religious knowledge transmission among its adherents. Unlike their English counterparts, Spanish and Portuguese plantation owners who housed and controlled much of the lives of ens laved Africans, encouraged the development of ethnic factions within their enslaved work force. Encouraging factions along ethnic lines was meant to maintain divisions so a panethnic mass would not unite and revolt. In addition, the Spanish colonists crea ted mirror institutions to their own ethnic clubs. Since, they came from Galicia, Vizcaya, Asturias, Andalucia, and the Canary Islands, and spoke Gallego, Catalan, and Basque, as well as the official Castillian Spanish, each group had its own social clubs and mutual aid societies based on ethnic, regional and linguistic characteristics (Canizares 1999: 24). By 1568, there were already documented African clubs called cabildos in Havana. The cabildos exemplify Stratherns discernment between the political, social and the individual for Yorb diaspora, as well as highlights Bourdieus argument that the three cannot be delineated as completely separate, instead, political, spiritual, social, and individual are integrated. The individual then is not only a slave or a free person of color (libre de color), but as Wagner (1991) posits, the self a continually changing, fractal, plural, and contextual personnot merely a singular, static individual.
83 Matanzas and Western Cuba Matanzas refers to one of the fourteen provinces of Cuba as well as a port -based city on the Northeastern coast on all three sides of the Bay of Matanzas. This bay jets deep into the land mass and is the recipient of three above ground rivers (i.e., Rio Yumur, San Juan, and Canmar) that flow through t he city limits, and the reason that one of its names is the City of Bridges. Figure 2 18. Bridge Over the Yumur River, Museum de Sauto. Figure 2 19. Arial view of Matanzas and three of its bridges.
84 Figure 2 20. Bridge Over the Yumur River. Matanzas was and is a major port, and thereby the entrance to many of the migrations of people, animals and plants to come to Cuba. The Indigenous had called the bay Guanima when in 1508 Sebastin de Ocampos wrote down his sighting. It was renamed the Bah a de Matanzas to signify the massacre of a group of Spaniards during early indigenous rebellions. Figure 2 21. Guanma turned Matanzas Bay.
85 The name Matanzas is Spanish for massacre, and refers to an alleged slaughter at the port of the bay during w hich thirty Spanish soldiers were crossing one of the rivers to attack a camp of first peoples on the other shore. According to the story, since the soldiers didnt have any boats, they solicited some native fishermen to bring them across. Yet, once they r eached the middle of the river, the fishermen flipped the boats. The Spanish soldiers drowned due to their heavy metal armor. On 25 September 1690, the Spanish King commanded that the bay and the port of Matanzas be populated. On 12 October 1693, the Capta in General and Governor of Cuba, el mariscal Severino de Manzaneda, founded the municipality and called it San Carlos y San Severino de Matanzas. Figure 2 21. Map of the founding of Matanzas City, Museum de Sauto.
86 Subsequently, thirty families who came from the Canary Islands founded the town. Afterward, this port became the main stopping point since it was geographically ideal to house the pigs, goats, and other supplies to be able to host the Spanish fleets as they traversed between Old and New Wor ld. Later, during the colonial era (mainly 1800s), Matanzas was one of the regions that was intensively developed for sugar plantations due to its climate, soils, and position by the ports. Consequently, as this chapter has briefly discussed, many enslave d Africans and free Africans were enlisted to support the sugar industry with their lives. Indeed, Matanzas only began to flourish in the 1820s, when the large sugar mills began to be constructed, and enslaved Africans were brought directly to the Castillo de San Severino. (As of 2009, this castle/prison is now a museum dedicated to learning about Africans in Cuba.) Figure 2 22. Photo of San Severino Fortress (currently the Route of the Slaves Museum) in 2006.
87 Figure 2 23. A photo of two cells where sla ves and later prisoners were kept at the fortress From 1792 until 1841, the slave population grew from approximately 30% of Matanzas population to about 62.7% (i.e., 1900 people to 53,331 enslaved Africans). By 1859, census figures show the slave population at 104,51921,22. T hese figures do not represent the significant number of free people of color in Matanzas. By the 1850s, Matanzas was the second largest city of Cuba, and known as the Athens of Cuba for its rich culture of music, dance, thea tre and much more. For example, Dmaso Prez Prado is from Matanzas, and is credited as the king of mambo. Figure 2 24. Sauto Theatre in Matanzas City. 21 In 1817, the Matanzas slave population had increased to 10,773 enslaved Africans. 22 Bergad, Laird W. Cuban Rural Society in the Nineteenth Century: The Social and Economic History of Monoculture in Matanzas. Princeton University Press, 1990.
88 Thus, if one is to understand the history of Matanzas, it is impossible not to take into account t he development of its black population, because it has played a determining role in all of its economic, social, political and cultural future 23 (5). Matanzas was known for being the epicenter of the Cuban slave -based sugar economy and the cradle of Afric an traditions. Scholars and practitioners alike claim Matanzas as el nido or the cradle of Afro Cuban religion, particularly Yorb religion. It is a hemispheric seat of African culture, with many temple houses and myriad music groups. Matanzas City: Rhythms of Waters, Sacred Forests and Spirits Significantly, African spirits came over with African bodies. And due to the more fluid and accepting character of Yorb religion along with the collapse of the Oyo Empire, the implementation of a sugar planta tion economy, and Cubas geographic and geological advantages, Matanzas became a center of Afro Cuban cultural expression. This means that the forest the rivers, and the ocean that abut this urban center are not merely biophysical, nor simply natural reso urces, but they also embody spiritual subjects. Thus, though this chapter ends with the significance of Cubas historical geography tied to its economics and politics, the bulk of my research highlights the import of Afro -Cuban epistemology, which learns f rom and interacts with the spirits of the forest, the ocean and the rivers with distinct and specific rhythms, dance movements and divination techniques, which aide mental and physical healing through not only ethnopharmacology, but also through the abilit y to communicate and invoke the spirits. This ecological knowledge and its transmission is what I propose is significant to tropical conservation and development conversations. 23 Recorrien do la historia de su Matanzas, fundada en 1693, es imposible dejar de adentrarse en el desarollo de su poblacin negra, porque ella ha jugado un papel determinante en todo su devenir econmico, social, poltico y cultural. (p5)
89 Cuba has a powerful history that is integrally tied, historically, geographically, politically and spiritually to its relations with others, which mostly occurred via water transport. In order to convey a bit more of the complexity of the history and thereby the modernity of Yorb diaspora practitioners, this chapter has done an historical geographic excavation of some of the geological, biological and human marks of Cuban lives. Western Cubas geographic structures demonstrate geomorphological alterations and relations, from the continental drift through some of the major tectonic and neotectonic geological alterations. Consequently, this region holds artifacts that illustrate the biological (flora and fauna) diversity from the Eocene Age and the Pleistocene as well as remnants of the first settlements of travelers. Matanzas, also known as the Athens of Cuba, not only has caves that hold these artifacts, but it also holds human settlements and cultural production that represent Amerindian, African and Iberian heritage. Particularly, the black populations of Matanzas have had a determining influence on its economics, cultural production, and religious manifestations. The next chapter examines how religion, nature, and culture have been constructed in the academic canons to contextualize how black histories have been conceived and represented. Then, we can return to Matanzas and western Cuba and more fully comprehend and appreciate Yorb-derived ecological knowledge through a more appropriate method of evocative ethnography. Object 2-3. Matanzas photostory (.mov, 57 MB Quicktime required)
90 CHAPTER 3 CONSTRUCTING THE STUDY OF RELIGION AND NATURE: QUESTIONING CONVENTIONAL PARADIGMS Through understanding not just the names and classifications but additional ways of knowing the environment, I intend to further the fields of tropical conservation and development, African diaspora studies, religion and nature, ecological anthropology, and spiritual or sacred ecology through an exploration of Yorb religion and ecology in Cuba. I intend to accomplish this through the use of a set of research techniques that include cognitive and visual tools. We as scholars must find culturally appropriate methods to interpret African diaspora ecological knowledges. Researchers need to acknowledge multiple perspectives and identities within their methodological frameworks (Rojas 2000; Schmink 1999; Feldstein and Jiggins 1994; Harrison 1998, 1997, 1995; Boserup 1971). This allows us to improve ou r understanding of shifting, multisited, and multivocal landscapes (Harrison 2008; Appadurai 1991, 1996; Marcus 1995) especially concerning human nature relationships (Merchant 1996, 1992; Shiva 1993, 1989; Haraway 1991) To improve our understanding of local, sometimes called traditional ecological knowledges, research should not be limited to taxonomic, categorical and hierarchical lists comparing names of plants. Nor should it be limited to obtaining local knowledge in Western scientific form (e.g. Zarger and Stepp 2004; Berlin 1992; Majnep and Bulmer 1977; Berlin et al. 1977; Conklin 1957) where traditional gets translated as ancient or indigenous, knowledge as informed deductively through empirical tests and written texts, and nature understood t hrough assumptions based on a priori human/nature and mind/body ontological separations (Latour 2004; Bateson 2002; Ingold 2000; Descola and Palsson 1996). [say again in Chapter 9] Instead, scholars must examine the unique knowledges and ways of knowing th at locals have about their environment (Meffee and Carroll 1997; Berkes 1999). Such knowledges include
91 distinct processes of learning about and interacting with the ecosystems they inhabit, sometimes perceived as extended community (G. Harvey 2005; Oelschl aeger 2005, 1994; York 2003; Morrison 2000; Apffel Marglin 1998; Callicott 1997,1990; Seed et al. 1988; Leopold 1949). For example, Yorb practitioners in Cuba follow a religion that integrates biophysical, human and metaphysical components into an inters ubjective cosmos and conversation. Through this embodied way of knowing the world, Yorb diaspora practitioners communicate with trees, plants, animals, spirits, ancestors and orishas (i.e., divinities) using salutations, songs, dances, and divinations. This chapter seeks to expose some of the distinct ways that academic scholars including natural scientists, anthropologists and religious studies professionals, have dissected nature from religion and religion from science, disregarding the ecological know ledges that African -derived heritage may proffer. In recent literature scholars are beginning to recognize that the concepts of religion nature and science are constructed, whether enacted in an academic setting, a religious one or in a more secular cultural one; yet few scholars have pointedly examined the role of the effect of this construction on understanding African diaspora ecological knowledge1. By addressing the nuanced processes of how Western scholars have created not only the previously mentioned disciplines, but also delimited what is appropriate as subject matter and methodology within those disciplinary confines, I hope to illustrate the usefulness of understanding multiple perspectives. Thus, I of fer an analysis of some of the genealogical roots of the study of Religion 1 I alternate between using knowledge and knowledges. In its singular form, I aim to highlight that religious conceptions of nature should be understood within a framework of local ecological knowledge, and not demeaned as merely belief. Yet, I also employ the plural term knowledges to recognize the multiple interpretations and expressions of this knowledge. And to recognize the coexistence, often conflictual, of hegemonic and subaltern modalities of knowing, knowledge production, and knowledge validation.
92 and Nature Subsequently, I will present a few pertinent examples of scholarship that highlight the implications of how the conceptualizations of nature influence environmental beha viors Todays environmental crises reveal a need to understand alternative concepts of ecology and religion so that we as conservationists, development workers, environmental policy makers and people living in a common world can reevaluate and reassess our own values and environmental practices. I hope this examination attends to this project and conversation to offer insight and inspiration towards a goal of valuing diversity: biological, cultural, and religious. Academic Roots & Constructing the Study of Nature through the Colors of Religion, Science and Culture Scholars, scientists, and practitioners alike must be cognizant of the categories and epistemologies by which we come to know nature (Gill 1998). If we seek an understanding through the discipl ine of religion, then we must recognize that w hether we speak of religion, anthropology, or another discipline, it is a created category. Religion, when understood through a scholarly discipline, often highlights a static set of beliefs and practices, and thereby erases the existential experience. As Jonathon Z. Smith asserts, religion is solely the creation of the scholars study. It is created for the scholars analytic purposes by his [and her] imaginative acts of comparison and generalization. Religio n has no independent existence outside of the academy (1987). Although Smith is referring to religion as a social institution of beliefs, he notes that for most people, that institution per se, does not exist outside of the domain of life, but instead is deeply ingrained in all other aspects of belief systems, living practice and experienced reality. Or, as a Yorb practitioner at the village of Oyotunji in South Carolina explains, Religion is just a word. Here in the West, we think we can separate it ou t from someones life, but it is just a word (pers comm. 2004; see Chapter 7 video). This is equally true for the
93 concepts of both Science and Nature. They become concrete, coherent objects of analysis through a particular paradigm, not because they some how exist outside of lived reality. I suggest that these three concepts are not best understood as distinctly separate categories, since creating any category entails limiting exploration through imagined boundaries. After all, even the word term is cons tructed from the Latin terminus meaning boundary or limit according to the prominent religious scholar Taylor (1998:16). Instead, this trinity of ideas might be better understood as three dyes on a spectrum of color. Their deeply integrated historical land scape of colonialisms, power, scholarship, knowledge (production and acceptance) should be acknowledged within distinct contexts that shape different perceptions. The way we scholars create categories and the methods we use to produce knowledge construct the way we understand the world. My own scholarship is shaped and cultivated by these nexuses of conversion and conversation. I readily accept plurality of voice, perspective and insight, and I seek to use my graduate research to illustrate plural knowledges in the hopes that scholars can conceptualize multiple realities within distinct contexts of power to gain insight in both theoretical framing and the conservation and development practice. Yet, despite the awareness I invoke in my own analysis, despite my training and my decision to act otherwise, I also too easily fall into the approach of dichotomous descriptions that are less effective in engaging complex and sometimes conflicting notions of identity and lived experience. Therein, I intend for this w ork not to create opposing dichotomous forces, but rather to decipher and depict complex landscapes of experiences, histories, and relationships to interpret better the concepts of religion and nature in contemporary Cuba. In this effort to help the reade r understand this position of not merely understanding an idea, as a terminus or with one limited definition, I invite you instead to attempt to understand
94 the concepts to which I refer (i.e., nature, religion, science and culture) as merging with blended boundaries while maintaining distinctive elements that are unique to each. Thus, allow me to refer to a metaphor of color to help interpret the abstract idea of conceptualizing realities and the intersections of nature, religion, science and culture. If o ne imagines the color spectrum, it is a continuum, each color gradually blending into the next; there are no sharp boundaries. But we impose boundaries; we speak of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. These sometimes arbitrary discriminat ions can change depending on the language and the perceptions of each group and each individual2. Figure 3 1. The color wheel exhibit located at the Science Museum in San Francisco. In the Science Museum in San Francisco, a color wheel exhibit asks whi ch of the outer dots best matches the inner one? Each of the outer dots contains a different mixture of red and green light. Most people will find only one or two dots that look like the center dot. However, each person perceives differently which dot tha t is, and may select a very different dot than the 2 Even within cultural groups, different people will experience the same things distinctly. A child with a missing arm, an elderly woman with lots of land, a young man before initiation.
95 person standing next to her. Each and every color in the circle is correct, yet some people will see a match between colors that you think are very different.3 Figure 3 2. An up-close view of the color wheel exhibit located at the Science Museum in San Francisco showing individual differences in perceptions of color. Figure 3 3. Explanation of the color wheel at the Science Museum in San Francisco. 3 No two peoples eyes contain identical sets of cones, the light sensitive cells that allow you to see color
96 Recognizing that a multiplicity of correct though dist inct perceptions exists and that they must be understood in context and through their relationships is the first step. The next is to explore the roots, contexts and nodes of particular perspectives. For instance, the roots of underlying assumptions of contemporary Western scholarship are often traced to the Enlightenment. As Gregory Bateson (2002) in Mind and Nature suggests, I hold to the presupposition that our loss of the sense of aesthetic unity was, quite simply, an epistemological mistake. I believe that that mistake may be more serious than all the minor insanities that characterized those older epistemologies which agreed upon the fundamental unity. It is critical to study the conceptions of nature because often the notion is taken for granted si nce as Bruno Latour explains in the Politics of Nature the historically and politically situated conception of nature as knowable through the intermediary of the sciences formed through networks of instruments defined through the intervention of profes sions, disciplines, and protocols often is unacknowledged ( Latour 2004: 4). And we must acknowledge the politics of the conceptualization of nature by examining its inherent issues of power and privilege. Academic and Scientific Epistemology Historicize d Language and thereby perception hold a specific cultural epistemology. The 17th century is critical to this genealogy of contemporary conceptualization of nature. For instance, Thomas Hobbes in De Cive presented a mechanistic structure of reality and soc iety asserting that everything is best understood by its constitutive elements: For as in a watch or some such small engine, the matter, figure, and motion of the wheels cannot well be known except it be taken asunder and viewed in parts that are based on order and regularity (1642). Philosophical assumptions influenced by the structures of machines found in the daily experience of western Europeans during this period enabled the human modification, control and domination of nature
97 This mechanistic worldview segmented nature into its atomic parts that consist of discrete information bits extracted from the world, and which are assumed to operate according to laws and rules that are context -free. Isaac Newtons Mathematical Principles of Natural Phi losophy (1687) was a powerful synthesis of the new mechanical philosophy: the dualism between the passivity of matter and the externality of force and activity, which limited the world to matter and power. Rather than organic change and process, resistance to change and stability were emphasized (Merchant 1992:57), and the significant role of Creator who controlled from a removed heaven was reduced or abolished. The 17th century scientific, positivist worldview was considered to be objective, value -free, co ntext -free knowledge of the external world. This language of an objective science based on mathematical equations of reality led the path for further religious studies anthropological, and ecological research on development and conservation. And, a s Buh ner (2002: 27) elucidates in The Lost Langauge of Plants: The Ecological Importance of Plant Medicines to Life on Earth [m]athematics is an unusual language. Though mathematical phrases can be articulated, mathematics cannot be spoken as are other languages. But like all languages, once a person begins to think in it, it shapes how things are perceived and how they can be described. Yet, the roots of these underlying assumptions should be traced further into the soils of history. In fact, western cosmol ogies that separate religion, humans and nature while dividing spirituality from materiality are based on a counter cosmology that dates back at least to the Greeks. During the Hellenistic period, the Stoics (334262 BCE) believed that all the forces in th e universe were united into one force (the soul of the universe), which penetrated everything. All life, all movement stems from this soul. This was God. Everything in the universe is God and
98 God is found in the whole universe, similar to how all of a flow er is contained in a seed (Frost 1962). God, for the Stoics was the creator of all things. Not divided, God was but one personality integrally involved in human lives by governing the world, punishing evil and rewarding good. For the early Greeks, humans were made up of the same substance as the rest of the universe and subject to the same natural laws. In the late 6th century in Miletus, this substance was water for Thales, air for Anaximanes and the process symbolized by fire for Heraclitus in Ephesus. A little later, Empedocles (ca. 492 432 BCE) in Sicily explained that the universe and everything in it was made of all four elements of earth, air, water and fire (Frost 1962; Glacken 1990). Humans were made of the same elements as everything else in nature, subject to the same laws and by a natural process return to the original one of the universe (Frost 1962: 54). In contrast to accepting the spirit of God within all things and feeling that humans were under the control of various deities and their unseen forces, Lucretius (50 BCE) (based on insights from Epicurus [311 BCE]) enters the theoretical and cosmological stage with a completely materialist perspective, denying anything beyond the immediate five senses. Lucretius promulgated that only the empi rically4 known, physical reality has position in an epistemology of nature in his epic poem De rerum natura, translated in English as On the Nature of Things. The only reality, then, is the physical one even the concept of the soul was to be broken down into its atomistic, physical parts. Through analyzing the individual pieces, scholars and scientists alike could know the universal laws of nature. Within this completely materialist perspective, scholars deny anything beyond the immediate five senses. This cosmology 4Empirical comes from the Greek word empeirikos, which means experienced or skilled em means in and peira means trial or experiment. Experience (first recorded in 1377) comes from the Latin experientiai meaning knowledge gained by repeate d trials experiri to try, to test. The verb in 1533 to experience meant to test or try. An expe rt, first recorded in 1374, is a person wise through experience.
99 (understanding of the universe) and epistemology (study of truth and knowledge) was the foundation for modern western scientific paradigms. Within this materialist perspective, scholars denied anything beyond the immediate five senses as testable and thereby verifiable. These theorists had a lasting impact on academia with the privileging of scientific inquiry promoted through scientists such as Car l Linn or, in Latin, Linnaeus (17071778) who further sought to order, name and categorize the world in an effort to classify and thereby know it. Linnaeus, a 28 -year old Swedish naturalist, recognized the value of determining a perspective on plants through a class system (whether they had been previously encountered or not). Linnaeus one of the main founders of modern natural science, created the system on which botanys taxonomic system is based still today. His classification system orders all plants whether known or not yet known by their reproductive parts, and organizes them into a hierarchical system from the kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, and genus to the most specific (species) categories. While this system for understanding botany has proved useful to categorize a world of plants, these efforts to classify and hierarchically categorize the biophysical world soon became a way to understand the human world. For example, Linnaeus hierarchically ordered all first order primates (i.e., Homo s apiens) of the world into six natural categories according to their phenotypic and parallel emotive characteristics that favored Europeans. For instance, the European had flowing, brown hair, blue eyes and was acute and inventive while the Asiatic had bl ack hair, dark eyes and was haughty and covetous and the African was phlegmatic and relaxed (Linnaeus 1735)5. 5 In the 1758 tenth edition of Systema Naturae (Natural System), the white Europaeus was "s anguine" and "muscular"; the sallow Asiaticus was "melancholy" and "stiff"; the red Americanus was "choleric" and "upright"; the black Afer was "phlegmatic" and "relaxed"; the wild and hirsute Ferus ran about on all fours; the Troglodyte;
100 Figure 3 4. Linnaeus chart that shows his hierarchical, scientific system. and what could not be classified otherwas (such as giants and genetic mutants) was relegated to the category of the Monstrous.
101 Th e various races were ranked in a scala naturae a scale of natur e, in which the most intelligent races represented the pinnacle of evolution. Blumenbach, a student of Linnaeus, emphasized anatomy rather than cultural characteristics in his racial scaling. For instance, he considered a skull from the Caucusus Mountains the perfect European form, and regarded the other four races as examples of degeneration from European perfection6. The ranking of the races according to their hierarchical excellence is still explicit in the way race is conceptualized. Conceptualizing African cultures within an imaginary hierarchical system that placed the white European, Christian male at the pinnacle was a colonial system that merchants and scholars used to create a category of race, and in a similar vein also to create the categories of religion and culture. For example, scholars first considered indigenous peoples of Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australia and the Pacific to be left behind by evolution; hence they were studied with interest as providing the best knowledge of the lower phases of religious belief (Tylor 1871:I, 380). Not only should the reader take note of the lower phases verbiage which signals inferiority, but also critical is the word belief that Tylor and many contemporary scholars use to reference religions oth er than their own. In other words, t hat which is not accepted as knowledge is devalued as belief (Good 1988). The words we choose to depict categories and the names we use to describe them often influence and craft our perceptions particularly when we do not acknowledge these relationships (Escobar 1995). In this case, the language used to describe religions and cultures of Africa cultivates derogatory perceptions of epistemological and ontological systems that are different from the systems of the schola rs and scientists who are endowed with the privilege of writing and publishing about the African systems. 6http://www.cartage.org.lb/en/themes/Sciences/Lifescience/PhysicalAnthropology/PhysicalAnthropology/PhysicalA nthropology.htm/ Accessed April 27, 2008.
102 For example, one of the first anthropologists to study religion, Sir Edward Burnett Tylor (1871) in his book Primitive Culture created the term animism to define the religions of the lower races who blurred the divisions between inanimate and animate thus negotiating over the meaning of materiality in a symbolic ritual system. He identified these false precepts of the South African Zulu because they believed that inanimate material forms have spirit or soul. He identif ied these primitive understandings of religious principles as survivals of savage, prehistoric, uncivilized times compared to the pinnacle of development, reason and civilization manifested in Western European urban, industrialized ideology. The stages of social evolution developed, according to Tylors theory, from animism to polytheism, culminating in monotheism demonstrating the progression from primitive to civilized. As an evolutionist, E.B. Tylor described savage religion as less evolved on a unilinear scale of progress, placing at the apex civilized cultures of which the epitome was his own. The beginnings of Western research of nonwestern religions demonstrates how certain theoretical projects are entangled in local and global negotiations over the meaning of reality realized in language: [a]nimism per se presents more of a problem with nineteenth century European imperialism, colonialism and capit alism rather than a solution for understanding religious engagements with the natural world (Chidester 2005: 81). As might be expected, the representations of black cultures have often been racist, whether in ethnographic work, literature, or travelogues. The three main ethnographers to whom any scholar studying the African diaspora in Cuba must attend are Fernando Ortiz (1881 1969), Rmulo Lachateer (19091952), and Lydia Cabrera (19001991). Through these authors, foundational in Afro Cuban studies, we can witness significant transformation in anthropological investigations of religion and Africans in Cuba. Ortiz, for instance began his career studying
103 Afro Cubans as examples of degenerates and outlaws. He was working under the Lobroso school of crimino logy when he wrote Los Negros Brujos (1906), which denotes evil witchcraft. With this book, he attempts to catalogue the barbaric religion which was low on the historical evolutionary chain, and would disappear when scientific knowledge improved, and the religious atavism that slowed progress, disappeared. He considered and called it the mala vida or dark side of the hampa or underworld of Cuba. Ortiz studied Afro Cubans as a positivist criminologist in an attempt to explain why they are more pron e to commit crimes than whites. Later in his career, Ortiz recognizes the debasing manner by which he tried to understand Cubans of African -heritage; he apologizes and writes more books in the 1950s including La africana de la msica folklrico de Cuba ( 1950) and Los Bailes y el teatro de los negros en el folklore de Cuba ( 1951). These books stress the contribution of African culture to Cuban culture. He is known for his terms of ajiaco and transculturation to describe Cuban culture, as a mix of distinct cultures. Yet, African cultures in Ortizs work are still Othered and homogenized. Rmulo Lachataer offered a major contribution to AfroCuban studies specifically because he recognizes the diversity of Africans and his writings delineate some of the differences in a more specific and accurate way. For instance, he substitutes the more individualized and accurate Lucum, Congo, and Abakua for Ortiz all -encompassing brujera or sorcery. And when he refers to the practitioners, he names them appropriate ly (e.g., palero or iyalocha), which indicates not only which religion the practitioners practice, but also what role they assume in the hierarchical structure. In 1942, Lachataers book Manual de Santera: el sistema de los cultos lucumis [Manual of Santera: the system of the Lucum cults ] is published by Editorial Caribe. In it, he begins the trend of an alternative Cuban ethnology in which he attemps to offer AfroCuban ideas without
104 filtering them first through the judgements of an anthropological i ntellectual and theoretical tradition ruled mainly by white elites. In Lachataers style, Lydia Cabrera completely revamped the anthropological mode of scholarship of Afro Cubans, and reinserted the otherwise marginalized in redefining and reimagining a plural national identity (Rodrguez -Mangual 2004: 3). Unlike Ortiz who valued the written word of the canon of published scholars, Cabrera placed primary value on the information of the practitioners. Cabrera recreates the ethnography to include self rep resentation and reflexivity in her use of I, and she embodied the data in her style of representation, which could be called magico realism interlacing fictional stories with fieldwork. Cabrera was dedicated to writing what her collaborators told her alm ost verbatim and with a minimum of organization and thus making her books true primary sources of ethnographic material (Castellanos in Lachataer 2005: xvi). She wrote one of the most influentional books on Yorb religion called El Monte 2000[19 54] which to this day practitioners name as vital to understanding the religion particularly Osain and the magical and healing power of the herbs. Since Cuba has a distinguished educated population, the above three authors may be the most well known, but are only the tip of a rich canon of Cuban authors on AfroCuban themes. Miguel Barnet, one of Ortizs most famous students who wrote the narrative E l biografa de un cimarron based on the real life of a former runaway slave (1986). Additionally, the following Cuban authors have helped to enlighten aspects of Cuban culture: Alejo Carpentier (1988, 1985); Natalia Bolvar (1990 ); Israel Moliner (1988, 2002); Andres Rodriguez (1993, 2005); and Jorge Castellanos (2003); Isabel Castellanos (1987).
105 What is Nature ? Nature as a distinct and separate category from human culture and religion is a construct of Western7 scholarship, and as such it is often taken for granted without recognizing that it came to be known as a concept through the intermediary of the sciences; formed through networks of instruments defined through the intervention of professions, disciplines, and protocols (Latour 2004). Conceptions of nature are also shaped by language seeped in contexts of power since words play a decisive role in shaping the cognitive relationships among humans, religions and nature (Oelschlaeger 2005). Benjamin Lee Whorf (18971941), Sapirs student and fellow linguist, explains how language shapes perceptions of nature in the following terms: We dissect nature along lines laid down by our native languages. The categories and types that we isolate from the world of p henomena we do not find there because they stare every observer in the face; on the contrary, the world is presented in a kaleidoscopic flux of impressions which has to be organised by our minds and this means largely by the linguistic systems in our minds We cut nature up, organise it into concepts, and ascribe significances as we do, largely because we are parties to an agreement that holds throughout our speech community and is codified in the patterns of our language (213) Yet, not all communities ca tegorize, perceive or experience nature in the same way. For instance, Foucault, in his preface to The Order of Things, quotes a passage to a certain Chinese encyclopaedia to demonstrate distinct ways to categorize, in this passage animals: animals are divided into: (a) belonging to the Emperor, (b) embalmed, (c) tame, (d) sucking pigs, (e) sirens, (f) fabulous, (g) stray dogs, (h) included in the present classification, (i) frenzied, (j) innumerable, (k) drawn with a very fine camelhair brush, (l) et cetera, (m) having just broken the water pitcher, (n) that from a long way off look like flies (1970: xv). 7 Here I am not distinguishing Cuba as anOther than the West. Indeed, Cuban scholarship is intrinsically Western.
106 And as Gary Paul Nabhan explains in Cultures of Habitat, the Seri Indians of Sonoro Mexico have seven terms for the different stages of ripeness of mesquite pods. Azj signifies the driest stage, when the pods are easiest to grind into fine flour [while] the Spanish term pechita lacks that precision (as cited in Buhner 2002: 28). Another indigenous term that shows distinctions in human/nture conceptu alizations is ayulla. The ayulla is fundamental to how Andeans following Quechua cosmology in Peru interpret their environment. This concept is, as Peruvian indigenous scholar Rengifo -Marglin explains, an ecological community that includes humans, spiritua l beings and respectful relationships (1998). Thus, it is a linguistic and affective organizing principle that stresses interconnectedness and intersubjectivity. This concept of intersubjectivity or attributing personhood, consciousness or spirit with whom people can and should communicate is also a fundamental aspect of the Yorb system of understanding nature. The concepts of ash and orishas, and specifically Osain are the ones that this analysis will elucidate f or precisely these aspects of language, metaphor and interpretation are ignored and undermined in most scientific epistemes. David Orr labels this verbicide and concludes that: Language is under assault by those who intend to control others by first subverting the words and metaphors that peo ple would otherwise use to describe their world.The highly technical language of the expert isuseful for describing fragments of the world but not for describing how these fit into a coherent whole. But things work as whole systems whether we can describ e them or not, whether we perceive it or not.Consequently as our language becomes increasingly artificial, words and metaphors based on intimate knowledge of soils, plants, trees, animals, landscapes, rivers and oceans have declined.Of the roughly 5,000 langues now spoken on Earth, only 150 or so are expected to survive to the year 2100. Language everywhere is being whittled down to conform to the limited objectives of the global economy and homogenized in accord with the shallow imperatives of the infor mation age. Because we cannot think clearly, about what we cannot say clearly, the first casuality of linguistic incoherence is our ability to think well about many things. (as cited in Buhner 2002: 28) Thus, as this examination will illuminate, Yorb epistemology does not create nature and the environment as a mere solid, physical form that is void of spirit, emotion, or subjectivity. This point of distinguishing material and spiritual within a concept of nature through mutable
107 and transforming as wel l as transformative boundaries that can be crossed with appropriate knowledge in the skills of the religion is an important point to understand about Yorb practitioners interpretations of their landscape. According to the practitioners who participated in my research, nature is not separate from religion or from culture. Instead what many religion and science scholars have as separate and distinct domains of study the physical and the spiritualinterpenetrate onto a landscape of subjectivities and personhoods among whom communication is not only possible, it is prevalent. Additionally, then, scholars must attend to the heterogeneiety within the religion as Snodgrass (2008) does for indigenous persons in India who live near the Phulwari ki Nal reserve for not all participants embody and enact religious consciousness in the same way. Instead, specific indigenous practitioners who hold distinct roles that deal directly with healing and herbs may be more likely to have contact, a more beneficent view, and also more environmentally -friendly interactions with the biophysical world. The question arises, then: how do religion scholars interpret religions, particularly those that are nature based? Often, religious scholars have invoked an idea of the sacred. For in stance, mile Durkheim (1947) defines religion as a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral community (p 47). This definiti on highlights a particularly important debate in contemporary religious studies concerning whether religion really points to the sacred? Huston Smith argues that implicit within religion is a concept of a connection with the divine or sacred, (often implyi ng a universal Truth underlying religion). Through Smiths analysis of Tjilpa and Near Eastern cosmologies, he addresses the problems of associations and comparisons. Instead of a center of an axis mundi reaching to a transcendental, celestial realm, the A ustralian
108 conceptual system, according to Smith, is based solely on the terrestrial in all its forms and alterations. However, Smith too reveals his own historically contextual biases with his interpretation of religion and the religious. Smith, does not a ccept a priori sacredness, refuting its existence as fixing biased boundaries that are not relevant to all groups cosmologies, and thereby disallows other reality maps by forcing distinctions and similarities where they are not. Smith, then, appears to ha ve a bias toward a materialist culture in his analysis, possibly with roots in Zwinglis modern concept of time in which every event was either spiritual and mental or corporeal and material but no event was or could be both at once[ s]pirit word and sig n had finally parted company for many at Marburg in 1529; and myth or ritualwas no longer literally and symbolically real and true (in Smith 1987:99). Like Smith, Mircea Eliade ( 1987) also highlights the discoverability of the sacred as an essent ial quality inherent in religion through hierophanies [manifestations of the sacred] in nature. Eliade has been one of the foremost authorities on religion drawing dominantly on Durkheims dichotomous distinction between the sacred and the profane to defin e the religious in opposition to the mundane. Some contemporary theorists negate this assumption of an essential sameness or universal truth that scholars can discover in all religions. Instead, they point to the relative differences and the phenomenologic al distinctions between bodies (read minds) they conceive as an individual, autonomous brain that organizes human existence creating, believing, living and making real their fictions or reality maps (Scarry 1985; Smith 1998). Yet, often these contemporary theorists simply deny the unknowable sacred and rely instead on theorizing the creation of belief.
109 How do these categorizations of religion, nature, culture and science help us to understand different conceptualizations of nature and environmenta l behaviors? Well, the premise of this research is that how we conceptualize nature influences how we interact with our environment. Religious scholars sometimes contrast nature with the divine to search for a metaphysically sacred that can be starkly dif ferentiated from the physically mundane; natural scientists can conceive of a nature that is devoid of the divine to demonstrate universal laws of the material world. In Western history, explanations and thereby methods to know the Truth of nature, the w orld, and the relationships of the humans within it have swung on a dialectical pendulum, then, between spiritual and material. Different conceptions alter the ways of knowing (epistemology and methodology), which in turn influence how scientists, scholars and religious practitioners conceive and interact with their conceived categories of nature. Bateson in Mind and Nature summarizes the primary point of this chapter and clarifies how these epistemological assumptions are the base of the university system, as expressed in his quoted passage: While much that universities teach today is new and up to date, the presupposition or premises of thought upon which all our teaching is based are ancient and, I assert, obsolete. I refer to such notions as: a. The Cart esian dualism separating mind and matter. b. The strange physicalism of the metaphors which we use to describe and explain mental phenomena power, tension, energy, social forces, etc. c. Our anti -aesthetic assumption, borrowed from the emphasis which Bacon, Locke, and Newton long ago gave to the physical sciences, viz. that all phenomena (including the mental) can and shall be studied and evaluated in quantitative terms (as quoted in Buhner 2002: 64). Cognitive Mapping of Nature and Spiritualit y One way that I used to access and assess the interpretation of the interplay of material and spiritual in conceptualizing nature is through cognitive mapping. Cognitive mapping attempts to model how people think and organize a concept which is referred to as a cultural domain, a schema, a model or a cognitive map. The cognitive psychologist, George Mandler defines
110 schema as a bounded, distinct, and unitary representation (1984: 54). The term, he explains goes back to Kant who described the schema or me ntal pattern of a dog that can delineate the figure of a four -footed animal in a general manner, without limitation to any single determinant figure as experience, or any possible image that I can represent in concreto (Kant,  1929 in Mandler 1984:55). Schemas, asserts Mandler, are built up in the course of interaction with the environment (1984: 5556). They are abstract conceptualizations of experiences and events; they are not the event, nor the object nor the experience but the representation of it. In sum, cognitive mapping creates a visual map of how people think about and organize a concept. For this investigation, the concept that interested me was that of nature, specifically because of the way that ce rtain categories and assumptions get privileged and thereby influence national and international environmental policies. Cognitive Maps and Environmental Policy An example of how cognitive maps affect policy would be when the pioneers first came to the U. S.; they understood progress to mean the mandatory killing of the wolves Wolves were understood as an impediment to progress so laws were enacted that mandated their killing to near extinction (Kempton 1995; Kellert 1991). However, when the conception of wolves changed in contemporary times so did the legislation. Now wolves are legally protected and are being reintroduced into places such as Yellowstone National Park. What is critical about this to keep in mind is that U.S. Western values of nature and legislation guide conservation policy nationally and internationally. For example, a category of nature as wilderness that excluded humans guided the national legislation with the Wilderness Act of 1964 (Cronon 1995) as well as the conception of the Biosp here Reserves, which has been implemented internationally including in Matanzas, Cuba where I do my research. This conception of the biosphere reserves has humans eliminated from the center (sometimes forcibly ).
111 Another example of bias that though power a nd privilege gets to be normalized, implemented and imposed was addressed by Our Common Future. This international document addresses the issue that much of Western resource management science was biased toward temperate ecosystems thereby promoting malad justed and sometimes maleficent conservation projects. With the failure of so many projects, international organizations began to acknowledge the relevance of local peoples knowledge and their contextual understanding of the environment. As one of the fi rst international organizations to express interest in traditional management systems, UNESCO, through its Division of Marine Sciences, found that oftentimes geographically appropriate conservation practices are founded in local value systems or worldviews (UNESCO 1982). So, I began by using cognitive techniques to investigate diverse conceptions. In order to have data with which to contrast the Cuban data I was to obtain, I tested the cognitive methods first with Gainesville academic and local community m embers to distinguish how Gainesville residents and Cuban Yorb practitioners differ in their conceptualization of nature and spirituality. To do this, I gave the following piece of paper out to members of the Gainesville community both on the University of Florida campus and at the local downtown Farmers Market. Their compiled responses are in Appendix A. Figure 3 5. Photograph of the Freelist Sheet handed out in Gainesville, Florida.
112 Based on Kluckhohns work with Navajo philosophy and the development of a method by which an ethnographer could identify cultural values and their relationships to behavior, I collected and analyzed (with Anthropac Borgatti 2001) dimensions of Gainesville, Florida residents values of nature using the cognitive techniques of freelists, pilesorts, rankings, multidimension al scaling (MDS), property fitting analysis (PROFIT) and quadratic analysis procedure (QUAP) (Kluckhohn 1949; Kruskal and Wish 1978; DAndrade 1995; Borgatti 1998). After doing a frequency analysis on the freelists, I selected 368 of the most commonly mentioned responses9 (including a few that I wanted to test or thought would help make it fun for people [i.e., sex in the woods]). With these words on individual cards (Appendix B), I conducted the pilesorts. After gaining the data from the pilesorts along with a Ratings questionnaire, I was able to conduct a multidimensional scaling (MDS) analysis. When you look at an MDS plot and try to interpret it, you look for two things: clumps and dimensions. The clusters are what items seems to group together, while the dimensions are patterns that can be distinguished as moving horizontally, diagonally and ve rtically along the plot. Cluster analyses tests your ideas about clumps, and PROFIT (Property-Fitting) analyses helps you to test your ideas about dimensions. The variable that seems to be driving or grouping the data is the dimension. You can test the dim ension by using paired comparison, ratings and rankings data and analyzing it with a Profit Analysis. To test the clumps, then, I used the Cluster Analysis, which uses the aggregate proximity matrix from pilesorts to construct a dissimilarty matrix that g ets converted to a cluster diagram. This means that the pairs and then the groups that are conceptually similar show linkages. 8 You should select between 30 and 40 items. 9 Pilesort cards can be constructed from the freelist data analysis, interviews, and researcher creation with specific questions and hypotheses in mind.
113 Th rough a multidimensional analysis (MDS), th e groupings or cluster s are visually mapped, and thereby can be more easily analyzed (Figure 3 6). I have highlighted in green a set of words that most people grouped together. This cluster includes ideas like cliffs, jungle, waterfall, and bugs, and could be considered physical nature. If you look on the right of the map, the concepts that are clustered together (here highlighted in yellow) are items like Christianity, Jesus, prayer, and God, which bring together common concepts into a group that could be called spirituality. Figure 3 6. Physical cognitive map of nature and spirit uality for Florida residents. (Holmes 2003). An interesting point about this exercise is that the map, much like a map of the United States represents the relationship of concepts spatially. For instance, just as Florida is on the opposite side of the U.S as California, or Santiago de Cuba is on the opposite end of the island as Havana, the concepts grouped under spirituality and those grouped under physical nature are on opposite ends of the cognitive map of nature for Gainesville, Florida residents
114 (predominantly University of Florida students). Since the export of Figure 3 8 made it shrink, I have also placed the following figure, which was not condensed: Figure 3 7. MDS plot of nature and spirituality. T o test the dimensions, I used PROFIT Anal ysis. Through charting a regression line across the MDS to look for patterns, the PROFIT Analysis calculates (based on ratings or paired comparisons data) a line that fits the data. By examining the relationship between the items and the PROFIT line, the r atings data merges with the pilesort data and the dimension can be supported or refuted. The output for PROFIT gives coordinates for the regression line, which are examined using Pearsons R; dimensions are demonstrated with a high R -squared value. In this case, the R -squared is 0.645, which gives it a Probability of 0.001. This means that it is likely that the dimension is not due to mere chance. This rese arch (Holmes 2003), demonstrates two dimensions, which consists of the distinct dimensions: Christiani ty to biophysical elements and active to passive interactions.
115 Albeit these analyses are meant to be descriptive and not necessarily inferential, the implications are note -worthy. First, it graphically displays the segregation between the spiritual and the physical in the conceptualization of nature for Gainesville residents. Second, it should make us ponder the conceptions of those people in positions of power particularly in international legislation. By this I mean, that if the people who are implementin g environmental policies that are affecting the world have a very different ecological understanding, then dire consequences could (and have) ensue. The University of Florida, where I primarily asked people to do the freelists and pile sorts, is renowned f or its multiple ecology programs, which educate scholars to become policy -makers at international organizations like the World Bank, World Wildlife Fund, and the World Conservation of Nature as well as many others that have direct influence on the policies that affect the ecologies and the peoples of tropical forests. As Kempton implores us scholars and scientists to consider, cultural models affect behavior whether managing milpas [small -scale farms] or supporting national environmental policy (Kempton 2001: 65). Do Conceptions of Nature Influence Environmental Behaviors? Lynn White Jr. (1967) in The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis blamed the environmental crisis on the JudeoChristian ethic that legitimated the domination and exploitation of nature. White believed that religion was perhaps the most important force shaping human societies because religious values had direct effects on human behavior (Whitney 2005). The historian Roderick Nash in Wilderness and the American Mind (1967) agreed. He argued that a cosmology that separates humans from nature, and offers the earth and its inhabitants as the profane other (intended for human use --spiritual and material) fosters environmentally detrimental attitudes and behaviors.
116 Mar tin Holdgate, the former director of the World Conservation Union (IUCN10) based in Switzerland, discusses the convergence of science and theology to understand ecology. He explains how values have impacted environmental policies both nationally and interna tionally for in the end, value judgments dominate political and social choices (p10). Holdgate displays evidently how these values are integrated into international policy on development and conservation. My own research with Wildlife Conservation Societ y also shows that the collaboration element of collaborative projects often entails merely telling the locals that they must relocate and no longer use the resources so that the area can be conserved ( Barborak et al 2002). Instead of cultivating a true par tnership, the multiple scientists (e.g., foresters, wildlifers, botanists) and national government come in and with a worldview of conservation that eliminates locals from the ecology, tell the locals that they are destroying the forest, and to protect the forest, they must leave. Take for instance Macdonalds (2008: 25) account in Cultural Survival of a case in Nigeria: One day in 1969, the Ndola people of Ndombo Ngishi in Taraba State, eastern Nigeria, woke up to find government officials in the middle of their village telling them they had to leave their homes and find somewhere else to live. The forest in which they lived, said the officials, was to be turned into the Ngel Nyaki Forest Reserve, and no one was allowed to live in the forest may longer or u se it in any way. The villagers were not given compensation and were not resettled to any particular site; they were simply expected to re -establish themselves elsewhere. They now must find alternative livelihood strategies that often integrate them into a world market economy, since they are disallowed to use the resources from what is now conserved land. This story is not singular, but unfortunately all too common. In tropical development and conservation policy, gender differences are not always conside red leaving women sick and lacking access to resources (e.g., MERGE 1999). 10 What is now called the World Conservation Uni on used to be called the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. The organization changed its name, but not its acronym, i.e., IUCN.
117 These implicit yet often unacknowledged values and worldviews that are written into international conservation policies can have detrimental consequences. For example, Our Common F uture (WCED 1987) (also known as the Brundtland Report because of the chair at the time of creation was Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland), is a report from the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development; it was one of the first international documents to address issues like sustainable development. The document notes that much of Western resource management science was biased toward temperate ecosystems, thereby promoting maladjusted and sometimes maleficent conservation pr ojects. Thus, international organizations and scientists began to acknowledge the relevance of local peoples knowledge and their contextual understanding of the environmen t As one of the first international organizations to express interest in traditional management systems UNESCO, through its Division of Marine Sciences, found that geographically appropriate conservation practices are often grounded in local value systems or worldviews (UNESCO 1982). An example of a misunderstanding of the local interact ion between humans and the landscape would be when ecologists, botanists, agronomists and social scientists believed the area of Kissidougou Prefecture in Guniea to be undergoing a transition from forest to savanna with only small patches of humid forest c over left (e.g ., Fairhead et al. 1992; Fairhead and Leach 1994). On the contrary, they had to later conclude that island forests instead of being remnants, were created and managed by people around their settlements; they used fires as pre -emptive burning while the grasses were short a nd damp. Then, as part of government policies, people were disallowed to use fire. As a result of the banning of controlled burning, fires came later in the season when the grasses were higher and drier, which caused more damage. Instead of the policymaker s belief, it was not population pressure that limited the forest area, but lack or
118 absence of people; and it was not the peoples management practices that were the problem, but those of government (Chamber 1997: 2627). When the people were forced to mo ve, the protection of old forests decreased and the new forest patches formed around the new settlements. This is an apt story for my research for multiple reasons. One reason is to recognize the implicit values in research like assessing the local human as the problem and reason of degradation. Conservation policies often are founded upon this wilderness notion that se parates humans from the imaginary of a conceived pristine state of nature. Yet as Heckenberger (2003) has found in the Brazilian Amazon a nd Fairhead and Leach (1994) have found for the Ziama Reserve in West Africa, what professionals regard as pristine forest often actually supported a dense human population. The second reason that the above story is useful for my research narrative is to demonstrate that the methodologies a scientist uses do not always reveal what is actually occurring on the ground. Third, the locals of a region may have vital ecological knowledge and practices that natural scientists should acknowledge and respect. Also, human populations in Africa and in other regions of the world sometimes create zones around their human settlements that become segments of biodiverse forest, which they protect for nutritive, medicinal and spiritual reasons. Lastly, and quite significant is the fact that humans may integrate with the landscape without degrading it. In a parallel study of the Ziama Reserve, Fairhead and Leach (1994) [in Chambers 1999: 27] found that contrary to popular scientific belief with which professionals had regarde d this area as pristine forest, it had actually supported a populous community in the nineteenth century (as recorded by colonial travelers). And, in fact, most of West Africas high forests contain old abandoned village sites ( Fairhead and Leach 1994: 4 814). As Chambers notes, human and
119 ecological history, when carefully and sensitively investigated, was found to be more complicated, dynamic, changing and locally specific than scientists and administrators had ever supposed, and to contradict many of t heir beliefs (Chambers 1997: 27). Two fundamental lessons should be derived from these mistakes. The first is that that our methods and the oftenunquestioned underlying assumptions that guide them should be made clearer, and the second is that some loca ls have relevant ecological knowledge and practices that scientists should take into consideration and policy makers need to incorporate. This investigation is based on these two premises. T he study of local ecological knowledge should not be restricted to the lens of Western epistemology, which understands nature through assumptions based on a priori human/nature and mind/body ontological separations (Latour 2004; Bateson 2002; Ingold 2000; Descola 1996). Instead, ecological anthropologists and conservatio n scientists should examine the unique knowledge that peoples have and the processes of learning about and interacting with the ecosystems they inhabit sometimes perceived as extended community (e.g., G. Harvey 2005; Morrison 2000; Apffel -Marglin 1998;). F or instance, Dorm -Adzobu (1991) notes that several of the small patches of closedcanopy forest in Ghana (as well as in other African and Asian countries) are often sacred or fetish groves. In other words, they are groves that are preserved primarily for religious purposes (p4). He specifically outlines the case of the Malshegu grove which is the largest in northern Ghana, and which the community has preserved for over three centuries because it is the abode of Malshegu ancestors and the guardian deit y Kpalevorgu. Through specific behavioral mandates, human access is restricted as is the use of forest products; these restrictions help protect the groves against human and natural disasters.
120 This assertion should not be confuse d with the romanticizing n otion that oversimplifies indigenous and African peoples and their religions to be environmentally friendly assuming an a priori connection to nature. Indeed, some scholars have rejected as facile the assumption of a close connection between nature relate d beliefs and ideals and actual practices (e.g., Matory 200511; Redford 1991; Tuan12 1968 in Taylor 2005). Yet, whether nature is envisioned as organic, mechanical, sacred, or profane; whether it is conceptualized as a unified, interconnected and interdependent process, an intersubjective community or divided into individual static parts and pieces, the conceptualization of nature plays a normative role within cultural ethics sometimes operating as restraints or sanctions (e.g., Juh Beaulaton 2008; Berkes 1999; Dorm -Adzobu 1991). Religion and culture appear to play an integral role in how humans interact with the landscape. Furthermore, Santera priest and scholar Canizares (1999:4) explains: the worldview of Santera differs from that of the JudeoChrist ian and Islamic faiths; therefore, the ethical framework found in Santera is correspondingly different from that found in Western religions. Thus, contributing taxonomic lists or forcing local knowledge into western categories is not sufficient, researc hers must attempt to learn local knowledge using local categories and more importantly attempt to understand local relationships. As the picture of the sign below taken from Poor Richards Almanack in 1750, which states, What signifies knowing the Names, if you know not the Natures of Things. 11 Matory warns scholars to be careful of collapsing African diaspora with an essentialized notion of being clos er to nature. 12 In Discrepancies Between Environmental Attitude and Behaviour: Examples From Europe and China, the geographer Yi Fu Tuan rejected the claim that occidental cultures before Christianity were relatively benign by pointing to the environment al devastation caused by the Greeks and Romans, and he argued that the Chinese devastated their environment long before Western civilization could have exercised any influence in this regard.
121 Figure 3 8. Picture of sign that signals the futility of names without a greater understanding.
122 CHAPTER 4 EMBODIED EPISTEMOLOGIES TOWARD EVOCATIVE ETHNOGRAPHIES: AN APPROACH FOR UNDERSTANDING YORB DERIVED ECOLOGICAL KNOWLEDGES To interpret African ecological knowledges, scholars must find culturally appropriate methods within our methodological frameworks in order to improve our understanding of shifting multisited and multivocal landscapes especially concerning human/nature relationships. This investigation, then, is in response to the general academic need and in particular to Torres and Whitten Jrs request for research priority in which they appeal for: [r]ese archers to develop techniques to understand cultural traditions, practices, and orientations where blackness is important to social life in the broadest and deepest possible dimensions of time and space (1998:52). I propose embodiment as a critical conc ept for African diaspora scholarship, and specifically the use of videography as an ethnographic tool to access and evoke African diaspora ecological knowledge. In studying African religions, an embodied approach is particularly appropriate, since a distinguishing feature of many African and African diaspora religions is that nature integrates spiritual and material worlds into an interactive community (Sweet 2003; Akinyemi pers. comm. 2003; Omari 1995; Thornton 1992; Oduyoye 1997; Mintz and Price 1976; Evans -Pritchard 1937; Casanova 1996). For instance, the Lucum, or the bearers of the cultural legacy of the Yorb diaspora in Cuba, follow what could be called a nature religion (Taylor 2005), which integrates biophysical, human and spiritual components into an intersubjective cosmos and conversation (compare with Morrison 2000; Gill 1987,1982,1977; Busse 2000; Taiwo 2000; Chevannes 1998; GonzlezWippler 1996; Canizares 2000, 1993). According to some of the literature (e.g., Daniel
123 2005; Gonzlez -Wippler 1998; Ortiz 1995; Thompson Drewal 1992; Amira and Cornelius 1992; Bascom 1980; Castellanos 1977) and my interviews (2003, 2004), the Lucum santero/a (initiated priest), transmits this understanding of the world through what I call an embodied epistemology including salutations, songs, and dances to communicate with ancestors, trees, plants, animals, spirits, and orisha (i.e., divinities). Osainistas, followe rs of the orisha Osain, are specialized santeros initiated into the knowledge of how to communicate with the orishas to be able to know, find and collect the ritually required plants and healing herbs from el monte (i.e., wild or sacred forest) (Cabrera 2 000 ). Thus, a study of Yorb religion and Osain reveals an embodied landscape akin to that which Ingold (2000) and Tilley (1994) discuss. The land is not an empty space void of meaning, but instead a landscape in which subjectivity is inherent (T illey 1994; Ingold 2000; Rengifo 1998). Human and nonhuman realms become a common intersubjective community, as scholars such as Apfel -Marglin (1998), Morrison (2000), and Berkes (1999) have found prevalent within indigenous ecological knowledge systems. The human is located and constituted within a larger community, which includes spiritual, natural, temporal, spatial as well as human realms, going beyond ontological separations as reflected in the subject/object dichotomy. Hence, with respect to methodological approaches, James Elkins elucidates the observer/object relation: There is ultimately no such thing as an observer or an object, only a foggy ground between the two. Its as if I have abandoned the place in the sentence that was occupied by the wo rds the observer and Ive taken up residence in the verb looks literally between the words object and observer what I have been calling the observer evaporates, and what really takes place is a betweenness (for lack of a better word): part of me is the object and part of the object is me (as cited in Sewall 1999:263).
124 Embodied Epistemologies My work is embedded within this framework that I call embodied epistemology: the adjective embodied comes from the noun embodiment1, which as a concept, col lapses the subject/object division along with the mind/body dichotomy into knowing (or learning to know) through a whole lived experience. I use epistemology to refer to the process of learning to know (Foucault 1994; 1980; Bourdieu 1984). According to Foucault, episteme is similar to a worldview and is the total set of relations that unite, at a given period, the discursive practices that give rise to epistemological figures, sciences, and possible formalized systems (1972:191). An example of embodied epistemology is found in Geurts (2002) study of a sensorial knowledge of the Anlow -Ewe speaking people of Ghana, which emphasizes how the pattern of attitudes and practices an individual develops to interact with the world is based on how that perso n learns to perceive and experi ence the world. Bourdieu (1993; 1984) calls this internalized knowing embodied knowledge. One of several websites dedicated to Yorb religion explains it as, where the miracle of the embodiment of an idea into a ma tter [sic] is real Also, Csordas (1994) in The Embodied Self and Stoller (1997) in Sensuous Scholarship both refer to embodiment to understand a process of an expanded, experiential concept of personhood. Yorb religion expresses how a practitioner can traverse the seemingly impassable divide between defining the world as merely physical or characterizing it as spiritual through offering practices that enable interaction and communication among temporal, spatial, spiritual, and material worlds. In or der to grasp some of these embodied experiences of Yorb diaspora in 1 See for instance, Bateson 2002; Marks 2000; Taiwo 2000; Sewa ll 1999; B. Turner 1997; Stoller 1997; T. Turner 1995; Schepher Hughes 1994; Lock 1993; Csordas 1994, 1990; Douglas 1970; Heidegger 1962; MerleauPonty 1962; Husserl 1931.
125 Cuba, additional methodology2 may be necessary. This next section will delve into embodiment as a critical conceptual tool and move toward evocative ethnography as an alternative methodo logical framework. African Diaspora and Embodiment Studies of the African diaspora can benefit from using a framework based on embodiment. Since some practitioners of African derived religions are known to communicate across spirit, material, temporal, and spatial worlds, an additional approach beyond the materialist -based empirical model is necessary; scholars must find culturally appropriate ways to interpret religions of African heritage. James Sweet, scholar of Central Africans who forcibly migrated to Brazil, reminds us that many Africans in the diaspora view religion as a way of explaining, predicting, and controlling events in the world around them in much the same sense of what Westerners call science (2003: 108). However, contemporary African and African diaspora theorists are reexamining this position and promoting an understanding of varied African and African -derived practices on their own terms (Daniel 2005; Chidester 2005; Olupona 2006). Since, the Lucum, like certain African diaspora religious practitioners, do not limit their systems of knowledge to the material world, I propose embodiment as a theoretical framework to better understand African diaspora epistemologies, specifically focusing on Yorb practitioners in Cuba. Yorb practi tioners in Cuba offer a poignant example of how Western science and African diaspora science can and do come together to form religion, medicine and science that is relevant in the daily lives of practitioners multiracial, mulitsited, and multivocal lived experiences. 2 I choose the word specifically, since methodology refers to the overall conceptual framework about how to do research, as it prescribes how to link or relate theory, research practices, and result findings.
126 The previous chapter examines the roots of empirical epistemologies, in which the concept of a material world was separated from a spiritual one. The former was able to be broken into its constituents to be analyzed and known, while the latte r since it could not be empirically known was banished from scientific inquiry and for all purposes, the academy. Thus, scholars have structured religions other than those of Northern European, white, urban, male individuals3 as the irrational Other acc ording to hierarchical divisions founded upon the researchers own precepts and worldviews4. What gets to be accepted as knowledge then is the result of historically contextualized, political processes of power and legitimation (Harrison 2008; Latour 2004; Haraway 2001, 1988; Harding 1998; Chambers 1997; Escobar 1999; Foucault 1981). As I expressed earlier, that which is not accepted as knowledge is devalued as belief (Good 1994). Moreover, with individualism, rationalism, and empiricism defining our personhood, our Western worldview becomes a self affirming model of reality (Sewall 1999: 247) that divides and separates subject from object, seen from unseen and mind from body. Instead, I propose embodiment as a critical concept for African diaspora scholarship to comprehend Yorb religion and ecology in Cuba, and the numerous other religions of the world that have special ecological knowledges that should be understood in their own terms. Embodiment: Theoretically Imagined In order to better unders tand embodiment theory, and its import for African diaspora scholarship, the following few paragraphs will proceed into a brief chronological and theoretical synthesis of differing interpretations of the body. During the Enlightenment in Western Europe, th e body that appeared was shaped in the form of 18th century, privileged philosophers and 3 The Europeans systematizing and narrating typically were literate Northern European men mainly from the lower levels of the aristocracy and the middle and upper levels of the bourgeoisie (Pratt 1992:38). 4 Defined by Gross (1996) as any belief that functions as the most significant arbiter for decisions and actions.
127 scientists in other words, white, aristocratic males who personified the civilized ideal due to their purportedly Godgiven reason. The body became a conceptual tool referring to a rational, civilized (i.e., white European) individual self (Rousseau 1973). Foucault (1979) theorized the body less as a rational individual and more as a common mass manipulated by the political artifice of the states control. Thus attenti on was brought to the politics and ramifications of the idealized normal body that the state cultivated through its legal and social institutions. Bourdieu (1984) later clarifies that these masses of bodies and their cultivated desires and behaviors cannot be separated from either their political or their social constructions. Consequently, Strathern (1996) elucidates three categories of bodies: political, social and individual. Yet, Wagner (1991) clarifies that these individuals are not static entities, but instead fractal, plural and continually changing selves. Similar to Wagners (1991) concept of fractal person, Young (1994) argues that we are all multiple selves or quasi -selves that constitute the subject of the persons experiences at different po ints in time. Understanding and accepting the multiple selves of which we all exist, he explains, helps us examine our mistaken faith in the unity of mind (p82). He further clarifies: the embodied person and not any particular self is the locus (ibid. ). Young (1994) emphasizes that the self cannot be located only in the mind or specific parts of the body, while Scheper Hughes and Lock (1987) use the term mindful body to stress the inseparability of body and mind intrinsic to understanding the body. This analysis of multiple selves helps us to interpret the Yorb diaspora for several reasons. First, the self encompasses many teachings and positionalities within everyday lived experience. Moreover, each individual encompasses different roles withi n society and within the religion, as this analysis will elucidate. Locating humans as constituted within and of a larger community is integral to African diaspora scholarship; these communities consist of spiritual,
128 temporal, spatial as well as human real ms. Thus, there is a constant exchange occurring in relating to the universe that Batesons (2002) explanation of cybernetics can help us comprehend. He counters the view of a unitary objective and object -like mind with an understanding of continuous, ener getic exchanges as the base of relating with the world. So what (or who) is the body of which we speak, make laws, prescribe medicine and study religion? Despite the myriad commentaries on the body, many Westerners, with our base of empiricism, look to biology and technology to explain the fundamental body. However, Merleau -Ponty ( 1962:314) suggests that we show caution: We must learn to distinguish it [the body in which I live and experience, just as I live and experience it] from the objective body as set forth by physiology. This is not the body, which is capable of being inhabited by a consciousness. The concept of body, person and self as a construct of distinct interpretations that are fluid, historically and contextually contingent is not new5. What is new and necessary (especially in a study with African diaspora peoples) is the concept of embodiment as a research tool for theory and praxis highlighting, a way of living or inhabiting the world" (Csordas 1999: xiv) The term embodiment refers t o collapsing the inside and outside, observer and object dichotomies. This is a critical term for scholarship: There is ultimately no such thing as an observer or an object, only a foggy ground between the two. Its as if I have abandoned the place in the sentence that was occupied by the words the observer and Ive taken up residence in the verb looks, literally between the words object and observer what I have been calling the observer evaporates, and what really takes place is a betweenness ( for lack of a better word): part of me is the object and part of the object is me (James Elkins in Sewall 1999:263). Embodiment as a category is a social construction; it may have as many limitations as it does benefits, but minimally it as a category points scholars in the direction of integrating 5 Marcel Mauss argued that the human, the person, is a cultural category with different attributes for different cultures at different times and places (Mauss 1979) through the notion of body techniques walking, sitting and other bodily activities are learned and thereby culturally shaped.
129 experiences, relationships and processes of communication bringing conceptions of segregated mind a nd body together into a whole of experiences contextualized in beingin the -world (Heidegger 1962). The territory of religion, suggests Gill (1998), must be understood as lived experience, not just the objective sense of the mind. As scholars we must be aware of the effect that conceptual categories and methodological stances have on our perceptions and interpretations of expressed communicative acts with the divine. Gill astutely asserts that although the academic student of religion may not assume an e ssential sacredness or presence, (hierophany in Eliades terms), but instead only recognizes an act of participating in human creativity, the people which the student is studying may indeed ascribe and live through this cosmology, epistemology and phenomenology of sacredness. Sharf (1998), however, raises questions concerning the possibility that anyone can know mystical experience at all, and especially of another. Nonetheless, Stoller (1998) argues for sensorial scholarship with expression of personal e xperience to overcome this obstacle of representation, authenticity and false separation of body and mind. He begins an essay on rationalism with his own personal experience of attempting to contact the woman Dunguri, a sorcerer, in 1979 in the town of Wan zerbe in Nigeria, West Africa (Stoller 1998). He tells of his own experience with not being able to move, seemingly under a magical spell. Thus, he gives up the notion of autonomous, rational self for a self that is a vessel of knowledge and sorcery: like the Songhay sorcerers and griots [of West Africa,] that one does not master sorcery, history or knowledge; rather, it is sorcery, history, and knowledge that master us (Stoller 1997: 252). In societies where the body may be felt as well as read, Stoller encourages us to develop an alternative to a mentalist approach, particularly for African religions. In many North and West
130 African societies learning religion, history or cultural codes is accomplished less through the academic approach of unilinear reading and writing and instead through gustatory terms of bodily consumption (1997:6). Thus, Stoller (1997), along with Gill (1998) and Pinn (2000), suggests the expansion of the scholars sensoria to include different senses of different bodies wit h respect to embodied experiences like tastes, smells, visions, gender, culture, age and bodily ability. Additionally, Stoller (1997) and Taiwo (2000) promote analytical models that include concepts such as those Gilroy (1992) proffers: mimese, gesture, k inesis, and costume to be able to understand religions based on non verbal (e.g., proxemic and kinesic) relations as well as verbal6 (see also Hall 1963; Birdwhistle 1968). Taiwo (2000) also suggests that scholars using the embodiment paradigm should liste n to the rhythms of the drum in order to understand the para -linguistic, non -verbal codes that are rooted in the body. Daniel (2005) notes embodied knowledge is key in guiding adherents and onlookers alike in religious clues. These include: characteristic similarities between dance movements that are critical to understanding Yorb religion and ecology as well as other clues like colors of necklaces, types of food, and spatial access. Thus, i f embodiment is an existential condition in which the body is th e subjective source or intersubjective ground of experience, then studies under the rubric of embodiment are not about the body per se. Instead they are about culture and experience insofar as these can be understood from the standpoint of bodily being-i n -the -world (Csordas 2001:143). Within a phenomenological framework, and in response to Mauss (1935) call for an awareness of cultural variation in different techniques of the body, I propose embodiment as a critical concept for ethnography. Embodiment as an anthropological field of inquiry is the study 6 Instead of limiting descriptions to the written word, Stoller (1997) and Marks (2000) instead emphasize, the sensuousness of film to trigger cultural memories by images and words which resensusalize us to our experiences.
131 of the body understood as interrelated body and mind (Scheper -Hughes and Lock 1987). Bourdieu (1977; 1984) asserted that the habits of people were representative of their political and cultural structures He explained that embodiment then, was the process whereby history is turned into nature. Thus, through our practices, we become normalized into a particular way. Each of these theorists and their theories of the body are relevant to African diaspora scholarship. Earlier, we discussed how scholars were often placing the Other whom they studied as lesser in a hierarchical progression of thought and religion (and today called development or modernity). Yet, most individuals within the African diaspora are neither strictly white, European, aristocratic, and Christian, nor are they indigenous, rural, peoples who do not make distinctions between their bodies and the rest of the physical and spiritual world. Instead, they have elements of personhood that a re in common with both and much more. I hope to call attention to the embodied epistemology of African derived religions, and the use of evocative ethnography to reveal an improved understanding that relies less on colonial discourse and instead attempt to illustrate aspects of the multifaceted religion through emic conceptual categories. I hope that this translation will help people who are in positions of policy in international conservation and development to broaden their understanding and be able to li sten as well as advise in their conversations. Many of the Africans who were transported to Cuba were highly trained urban craftspeople and Yorb priests, since Oyo Empire was the largest in its time. They had been the princes, queens and other figures of royalty before they were turned into slaves from the war. Some were also Christian and others Muslim. Foucault and Bourdieu emphasize the role of the state in a configuration and contemplation of the body, and indeed for the African diaspora, the state p lays a decisive role in many ways. In the Caribbean and Central, South and North American regions,
132 the state determined whether people were brought together and created factions or were divided up because of forces dispersing ethnic cohesion. In Cuba, the Spanish fashioned self -help societies called cabildos after their own groups of the same name. Thus, people of similar ethnic lines grouped together, and these spaces and times helped the lessons, the lifeways, and the ecological knowledge to continue to be known and lived. The process of knowledge transmis sion was and is embodied. Learning is accomplished through the drums rhythms, the dancers movement and the diviners conversations with the plants and with the spirits. Embodiment and African Religions When we as a Yorb people have embodied the [drum s] return beat at an early age a whole virtual terrain opens up...it becomes embodied knowledge. [that helps] realize those important connections vital for decoding non-verbal signifiers in the process of communication (Taiwo 2000:184). How do we interp ret the world, and our place within it? Epistemology or ways of learning to know the world is critically important for religious practitioners, African diaspora scholars and anthropologists alike. We must be cognizant of knowledge systems, both our own, an d those of the people with whom we do our research, recognizing the implications in terms of dynamics of gender, age, ethnicity, seniority, class, profession, region, religious commitment, and cosmology of self and world (e.g., Chambers 1997; Harrison 1991). Stoller, a scholar of West African Songhay culture and religion reveals that contemporary scholars need to transcend the ill representative mind/body divide for a more embracing, sensorial experience with the people and experiencees of the people with whom we do fieldwork as well as with our analyses and descriptions. I hope to respond to Stollers call. In a similar vein, Geurts (2002) proposes that we expand our sensorium to include even more than just the five senses that we commonly acknowledge, in an attempt to understand more appropriately the experiences of the people with whom we work. Within a phenomenological
133 framework, and in response to Mauss (1935) call for an awareness of cultural variation in different techniques of the body, Geurts (2002) documented a sensory system of Anlow Ewe speaking people of Ghana. In this West Africa ethnography, she systematically studied an epistemology that she argues is based on sensory experiences like balance. Geurts argues (in accord with Bourdieu 1977; Cs ordas 1994, 1999) that this process of embodied learning performatively elaborated through rituals and other cultural traditions (e.g., movement, myth and sound) develops the concepts and practices with the world. Recognizing multiplicities of bodies and perceptions, scholars are beginning to reexamine the religions and the practitioners with whom they study. For instance, Chidester calls attention to scholars like Graham Harvey who redefine animism, as West African traditions have historically been labeled, to be interpreted instead as relational epistemology meaning people gain knowledge by entering into humanizing relations with the natural world (2005: 80). Pinn (2003) proposes that African diasporas and some Africans should be understood through a hermeneutics of style and bodily ways of knowing also known as corpospirituality. To understand cultures based on experiential knowing, Michael York refers to the symbolic ritual systems found throughout the worlds religions, which he describes as an a ffirmation of interactive and polymorphic sacred relationship by the individual or community with the tangible, sentient and/or nonempirical (2003: 157). York recognizes the universalist tendency of categorizing so many distinct religions under any one la bel (in his case, Paganism), but he asserts that it represents an epistemological, theological perspective and consequent practice that, despite its plethora of micro and local expressions, is a viable and distinguishable religiospiritual position that ha s in common a number of similar characteristics including: number of both male and female deities, magical practices, emphasis on ritual efficacy,
134 corpospirituality, an understanding of gods and humans as codependent and related, lack of belief in historic al revelation, belief that this world and otherworld are intimately interrelated through active exchange, divine is to be experienced directly, and use of various techniques of divination (York 2003:14). Canizares elucidates that the embodied process int egral to understanding the Yorb religion should not simply be an analysis of certain conceptual categories. Instead, a dynamic engagement with interrelationships between worlds, which is often carried out through performative actions or ritual, should be recognized. Material bodies and spirit bodies interact. Each uses the other to manifest itself interconnecting these worlds through practice and performance. Memory is etched by peoples senses into their corporeal being, and they remember vividly the sensorial experiences. Lucum is based on personal, embodied experiences incorporating the material and the spirit(ual) worlds into an integrated cosmology of conversations. The entire process is one of learning through embodied communication techniques. The community includes dead ancestors, orishas nature spirits, and the religious family; consequently communication is achieved through embodied performances such as possession, divination and initiation. And the process of learning is bodily informed th rough dance, rhythm and story telling. Through the practices we discern the bodies, from prostrating in salutation to possession, initiation, divination, sacrifice and storytelling, we comprehend the cosmology and the beings who live within. Embodied Ecolo gical Knowledge in the African Diaspora To comprehend local ecological knowledge systems, researchers should include the unique knowledges and ways of knowing that locals have with their environment (Meffee and Carroll 1997; Berkes 1999), which incorporate their distinct processes of learning about and interacting
135 with the ecosystems they inhabit, sometimes perceived as extended community (G. Harvey 2005; York 2003; Morrison 2000; Apffel Marglin 1998;). After all, what is traditional about traditional knowl edge is not its antiquity, according to the Four Directions Council of Canada but the way it is acquired and used (1996 cited in Posey 1999: 4). This is particularly true for Lucum in Cuba since due to this religions way of integrating other religious icons and acts like Catholic Saints, Spiritist possession and Abakua secret society, it has grown to be one of the largest of Cuba and beyond. For instance, Soyinka explains: Continuity for the Yorb operates both through the cyclic concept of time and t he animist interfusion of all matter and consciousness (1993:30 in Taiwo 2000:177). Space time is not seen as separate from matter and consciousness, but as a whole that unfolds like an onion in concentric spheres (Taiwo 2000: 177). Soyinka (1993) broaden s this idea of the body to incorporate the notion of temporal existence, where the world of the living (the present) is seen, in a metaphysical sense as sharing the same spatial and temporal context as the world of the ancestors (the past) and the world of the unborn (the future). In traditional Yorb culture this responsibility is taken very seriously. Time and space seem to be experienced not as a singular absolute condition, but as a series of continuous coexistent states. The concept that matter and consciousness are integrated, and that the boundaries among the spiritual, physical, temporal and spatial are crossable, is critical to apprehend and the major facet to which this work attends. For Yorb pracitioners, these dif ferent worlds become accessible in the knowledge of communication across human, spiritual, physical, dead, living, seen, and unseen. This embodied communication or as Oduyoye (1997: 7) calls transmitting ways of knowing the divine is enacted through the body emphasizing communication among
136 plants, spirits, ancestors and humans through worship with song, rhythm, and dance as ways of communing with God in prayer. Embodied Acts of Communication Some of the commonly cited rituals or methods of communicating between the intersubjective Lucum are through divination, music, and possession. Osainistas use all of these to divine, to listen and to request the alchemical powers of the plant -orisha world. Divination Divination, or using various means to understand the meaning of ones life and the events of ones future, traverses divides of the living, dead, material, spiritual, seen and unseen worlds. Just as the divine and ancestors can speak through a possessed person, so do they also embody their energy and spe ak through plants, stones, shells, coconut pieces and special stories. Human and suprahuman actions are interpreted through the divining system Ifa through special stories (called Pataki in Cuba) and through coconut shells and cowries ( dilogun or divinati on with sixteen cowries) following the practices in Yorbland (Daniel 2005; Bascom 1991 ; Bastide 1978; Verger 1957). One can communicate directly with the divine through divination. There are three major types of divining. The first one is restric ted to only babalawos (the high priest and highest level of practitioner). It is called the Oracles of If and consists of a body of sacred stories ( Pataki ) that a babalao memorizes. He knows which story to recite and interpret through one of two ways. On e, he casts a small chain with eight concave oval or round pieces of leather, coconut, or calabash. Then, the babalao attains a configuration that tells which of the 256 oddu or chapters should be read for the particular situation. Next, the babalao must i nterpret the ambiguous stories to find correct application. Object 4 1. Clip of movie throwing the coconut divining shells (dv, 9.1 MB)
137 The next more common method of divination is through the mediloggun7 oracle, which uses cowrie shells ( caracoles ) as the mouths of the orisha. They are considered mouths, because they are understood to speak. The priest must know how to listen. There are 16 letras equivalent to oddus, which are the Pataki stories. Pataki are the myths and stories that tell eternal truths and valuable lessons they have passed on from one generation to the next for hundreds, and sometimes thousands of years (Canizares 1993: 5455). Although any person can memorize the Pataki, for divinati on and usefulness you need to know how to interpret the stories to be efficacious. The number of shells that fall with the natural opening face up determines which letra is to be recited. Letra 1 12 can be interpreted by any santero or santera, but 13 16 s hould only be read by babalaos. The last and most often used divinatory technique, the obi, can be used by anyone to communicate with the orisha. It is a coconut casting system that consists of four pieces of coconut, and questions should be asked in simp le yes and no form. Depending on how many fleshy sides and how many shell sides face up, the practitioner can interpret the answers. In Matanzas, Cuba more often priests are priests but not high -priests (babala w o s). Thus, it is through the reading of shell s that most Osainistas in Matanzas divine the problems, the needs of a ceremony, and the proper plants to use. Once they know which plants and thereby which orisha they are requesting from, then they must know how to request. This is done through specializ ed music chants and rhythms. Music Music (through drumming and incantation) can be an embodied vehicle to access the divine. Stoller expounds that, In Songhay, sound is more than a means to the end of trance; it is 7 Mediloggun means sixteen in Yorb.
138 a foundation of experience (1989: 104) Sound penetrates and thereby creates a sense of communication and participation between outside and inside, invisible and visible and between spiritual and physical worlds. Stoller continues to explore sound for the Songhay and other peoples around the w orld by explaining that many people consider sound to have an existence separate from [only] the domains of human, animal, and plant life. Sounds carry forces which are not only good to think, but good to feel (Stoller 1989:112). These are the feelings t hat evocative ethnography attempts to evoke. Drumming. As Taiwo explaines, When we as a Yorb people have embodied the [drums] return beat at an early age a whole virtual terrain opens upit becomes embodied knowledge in the process of communication (Taiwo 2005:184). Canizares offers more specific details and elucidates that the divine can be accessed through the melodies produced in the throats and the complex rhythms of each of the six hands of the three drummers. Thus, highly trained singers and drummers, especially bat drummers develop an ability to create a confluence of sounds and rhythms that bridges the seen and the unseen, the material and the spiritual, God and humankind. According to practitioners, the orishas were able to cross the water s from Africa to Cuba in these songs rhythms and of their devotees. Initiated drummers called alaa hold the secret to unite humans with the orishas via specifically executed vocal melodies and phrases. If the songs are precise, they may achieve the desire d effect, neither missing a beat nor mispronouncing a word, and the orisha descend from heavenly abode and temporarily possess their devotees, initiating a mystic state of communion between the orishas and the participants (Canizares 1993: 69). As African theologian, John Mbiti argues: African music is that aspect of life which provides the repositories of traditional beliefs,
139 ideas, wisdom, and feelings ( 1999: 67). Hence, santeros consider properly consecrated bat drums to be living, powerful ent ities, the materialization of the great spirit Aa. Chants. Verger explains how the ofo or chants for the Yorb enacts life since sound creates live vibrations. Utterances through music and through the mouth embody power as Ayoade elucidates, to the iniated the sound of the words is the audible manifestations of its innate force (1979:51). Prince notes that among the Yoruba, to utter the name of something may draw that something into actual existencenot only within the mind and body of he who utters and he who hears the word, but also in the physical world as well (1960:66). Hence, Verger (1996) uncovers how Yoruba incantations that are chanted during the preparation of medicines summon the ash, or dynamic essence, of the plan ts. The chant comprises monosyllabic action verbs from each plant and ingredient in the formula. Additonally, Drewal explains that the sound quality of verbs, nouns, adverbs and adjectives in Yoruba incantations acknowledge a dynamic relationship between s peech and action (1998: 257259). Movement Not only do Yoruba practitioners acknowledge a strong correlation between power (ash) and oral performance, but also movement in terms of dance and possession are key tools in the process of communicating religio us and environmental information. Dance. Dance is a critical tool to interpret Yoruba religion, access the divine, and understand nature in the process. As Drewal details: the phrase kkan simulates verbally the effort quality of the dance, that is, one in which a dominant motif is raising ( k ) and percussively dropping ( kn ) the shoulders repetitively, i.e., kkan kkan K is quick, sharp, and high (or up) in tone; kan is forceful, full, and heavy, dropping in tone. The dance further evokes, in its spee d and thrust, the dynamics of lightening and thunder in that order associated with Shang. In fact, from this perspective, the image of lightening and thunder can be seen, like tha analogy to rainfall illustrated above, to derive meaning from its actual dynamic qualities, qualities which in turn reflect the nature of Shangs power.
140 Daniel, in her study on Dancing Wisdom: Embodied Knowledge in Haitian Vodou, Cuban Yoruba, and Bhaian Candombl reveals that the movement sequence and motifs for the divinit ies conform to identifiable patterns that are recognizable across the African Diaspora (2005: 63). Ogns dance exemplifies the common patterns since his dance has explicity, literal meanings and implied, abstracted meanings that are common in all three ritual communities (Ibid ). Aggressive warrior stances, kicking through tough terrain, and sharply using some sort of metal like machete to cut cut through the thicket or through an opponent are predominant movement themes that demonstrate the warrior -natu re of this spirit. Thus ritual dance performance was a repository of remembered movements and musical components but also a repository of complementary legends, beliefs, and attitudes, with contrasting and alternative resolutions for temporal problems (2 005: 64). These alternative resolutions for tropical conservation and development are precisely what I hope to more fully uncover with an improved insight of Yoruba religion. Possession. With the music, rhythms, chants and dancing, people sometimes get embraced by the orisha. Orisha possession occurs when a priesthood holders consciousness is totally taken over by the consciousness of an orisha, thus making it possible for humans to have direct conversations with divine beings, receiving their counsel a nd advice. The song to Obatal also had satisfactory results; the greatest of all orishas descended from heaven to commune with mortals. Amanda became rigid; then a steady trembling like the passage of a strong electrical current began to come over her. F ully possessed by the divine Obatal, Amanda danced a slow, stately dance that transfixed those presentA great circle formed around Amanda/Obatal. The orisha began to single out certain individuals for counselingPointing to another womans stomach, Obat al said, You have a tumor right there. Tell my caballo [Amanda] to give you some omiero8 to drink and then go to the 8 Omiero is a magical herbal infusion. Often it comprises specific herbs combined with certain water to receive the necessary ash, and then it can be used for cleansing self, spirit and/or location. A friend of mine in Florida, attested to the power s of the omiero when she told me about a time when she was instructed to go to the river and pour a certain omiero that had been prepared for her over her head. She said, within moments, she was completely exhausted; her energy had been depleted. Immediate ly after, she explained, she was forced to curl up on a couch and
141 white mans doctor to get an operation. Dont worry youll be fine afterward ( Canizares 1999: 14). As this vignette clearly demonstrates, Yoruba medicine is inclusive and assimilates that which works best for a human. This technique of assimilation is what has helped Yoruba to be one of the predominant religions in Cuba, despite it being an officially atheist state. Thus, the s ame person can make use of the two major medicines and bodies for which Cuba is acclaimed: physiological and orisha. Platvoet defines spirit possession as processes of communication between human beings and unseen beings (2000: 837). Furthermore, possessi on has been a tool of communication between worlds from food gatherers in Neolithic times to modern religions of today. Some of the various ones that have incorporated this method are paganism, shamanism, prophetic movements, mantic oracles, exorcist ritua ls, spiritism, and certain forms of ritual healing up to current methods of channeling in New Age. In discussing spirit possession of the Bono of West Africa, Platvoet (2000) explains that messages are received through the mouth of the possessed person who sometimes offers an oracle of the future ( orare means to speak in Latin). Believers understand this as a face to face contact with spirit (Platvoet 2000:80). Through understanding not just the names and classifications but the ways of knowing the environment, I intend to further the field of religion and nature and ecological anthropology in understanding local ecological knowledge systems especially African and African diasporic religions concern with ways of knowing, interacting and communicatin g with nature. rest for several hours. One womans explanation of her recipe of omiero illustrates how location, environment, saints and time all interact together to help create the sacred potion: I use rainwater collected from a crevice in the sacred iroko (silk cotton) tree during the month of May, river water collected on the festival of Saint John (June 24), and seawater collected on the early morning of Holy Saturday (Canizares 1999: 102). Often, v ery specific chants are sung while preparing the omiero offering the sound vibrations as currents of energy and ash to infuse the water that is meant to heal or initiate someone.
142 I propose video, under an umbrella of embodied ethnography, as a technique that may aid in this quest. Embodied ethnography offers a model for scholarship vital to the contemporary religious scholar and anthropologist alike since it can inc orporate, networks of relationships as models of communication and interaction between all parts of the community, including humans, spirits, ancestors and natural entities (Gill 1998:311). Scholars must address the distinctive points of access, the ways of entering and the strategies of interacting ( ibid.). Evocative Ethnography Defined To understand and to transmit embodied knowledge of the landscape, then, especially important for representing experiences and religions of Yorb practitioners in the diaspora, researchers must find additional means of methodological inquiry. The primary avenue that I suggest offers the possibility to merge academic research with embodiment theory and may be more applicable to understand some African diaspora ecological knowledges; it is what I call Evocative Ethnography Ethnography, as James P. Spradley in The Ethnographic Interview defines entails, learning from people rather than studying people (1979:3). Instead of collecting data about people, the ethnographer seeks to learn from people, to be taught by them. (ibid: 5). Ethnographers focus on interpretations or the special meanings of experiences, objects, behaviors, relationships and ideas that may help guide behaviors; these systems of meaning are often r eferred to as cultural knowledge. Though culture is neither equivalent to race nor ethnicity nor homogenous to a geographically bounded group, many shared constructs of meaning often exist and guide human interaction in the world. Certain specific techniqu es to understand these shared constructs are the focus of ethnography, particularly relying upon a verbal description (ethno, meaning cultural and graphy, meaning through writing). Even ethnographic films often include a narrative that explains the scenes and the people in the film.
143 Though both Malinowski native point of view and Franz Boas if it is our serious purpose to understand the thoughts of a people the whole analhysis of experience must be based upon their concepts, not ours (1943: 11). Thus, in both the discovery and the description, ethnographers should represent the meanings encoded in that language as closely as possible relying predominantly on the concepts and meanings integral to that perspective. As Stoller extols, And once we decide to follow their paths of wisdom, we leave the comforts of a world in which we are members of an intellectual elite and enter worlds of experience in which ourteachers scold us for our ignorance (1989: 121). Ethnographic Research Versus Social Science R esearch Spradley (1979:30) in his book on The Ethnographic Interview clarifies a pertinent dissimilarity between social science research and ethnographic. This distinction highlights a critical point of conflict that I have grappled with throughout my res earch. Table 4 1. Social science research versus ethnographic research Social science research Ethnographic research 1. What do I know about a problem that will allow me to formulate and test a hypothesis? 1. What do my informants know about their culture that I can discover? 2. What concepts can I use to test this hypothesis? 2. What concepts do my informants use to classify their experience? 3. How can I operationally define these concepts? 3. How do my informants define these concepts? 4. What scientific theory can explain the data? 4. What folk theory do my informants use to explain their experience? 5. How can I interpret the results and report them in the language of my colleagues? 5. How can I translate the cultural knowledge of my in formants into a cultural description my colleagues will understand? Although Spradley identifies research through a distinction of social science and ethnographic research, he seems really to be talking about postivist social science research and not social science research in general, as a monolithic totality. After all, ethnographic,
144 phenomenological, and other qualitative research styles are a part of social science as well. Nonetheless, it is important to distinguish between the approaches to acknowledge the stance a researcher has in the field. As Spradley (1979:34) asserts, ethnographers through their actions, their words and in other subtle and direct ways express, I want to understand the world from your point of view. I want to know what you k now in the way you know it. I want to understand the meaning of your experience, to walk in your shoes, to feel things as you feel them, to explain things as you explain them. Will you beceome my teacher and help me understand? This is the style and the s tance that I have tried to take in both my research and my representation. Thus, I have chosen ethnographic techniques that are more participatory and collaborative and discarded ones that were tedious and hierarchical in knowledge extraction (e.g., dyads and triads in cognitive methods, and the for Russos kluckhonhs human-nature values questionnaire that took several hours to conduct). Particularly critical to my research is the iterative interaction of research, analysis, research and analysis that I have carried out over several years of return visits to many of the same families in Cuba. I note, that I am still fully in this process, and look forward to continuing the research in subsequent visits with the foundation that I now have. Hence, what I am calling Evocative Ethnography comprises participatory and iterative research through the primary three s trategies of archival, cognitive and videographic work, which I situate within Sensorial Anthropology. Participatory. In participatory research, the community members are also not considered objects for observation, but...regard[ed] as equal partners who can themselves identify their needs and wishes (Ostergaard 1992). Thus, the power dynamic shifts from a uni -directional, top down approach to one of facilitation by everyone for everyone in order to raise awareness about the circumstances and the possibil ities. Consequently, the researcher chooses methods and
145 techniques that shift the balance from closed to open. Sometimes, this is accomplished through focus groups rather than individual interviews, using mainly visual rather than written tools and compari ng rather than quantifying. As a result of training and sharing of information and experiences (both formally and informally), collaborative partnerships can develop (Chambers 1997; Wondollek and Yaffee 2000). In terms of reliability, participatory researc h may be more accurate than some quantitative methods. For instance, a group from the Christian Medical College in South India compared a formal questionnaire survey with the more participatory wealth ranking to identify economic levels of the rural poor. The researchers found that the quantitative, questionnaire survey was only 57% accurate while the qualitative community classification was 97% accurate in identifying economic levels of households. They concluded that professional, outside classification, especially when it deals with economic levels, were limited by misconceptions (Chambers 1997: 143). The wealth ranking allowed for more complex and locally appropriate analysis of wealth that was more accurate for the community involved. Research as a Li near Process: DATA COLLECTION INTERPRETATION AND ANALYSIS Research as an Iterative Process: DATA COLLECTION (Revisions of Method and Issues Explored) INTERPRETATION/ ANALYSIS Figure 4 1. Illustration of a linear process versus an interative process of research.
146 In the participatory approach, data collection and analysis are iterative. The process builds upon continuous processes of exchange between the various actors in order to better comprehend the issues, the methods and the solutions. Gebert (2000) delineates graphically the difference between conventional and participatory methodologies: So, in my explanation of religion I do not start with an explanation of monotheism, but instead of ash and orishas And in my explanation of how the Yoruba practitioners with whom I talked understand nature, I demonstrate primarily through cognitive maps and videography some of the nuances that illustrate a communication and an integration of metaphysical and mundane. Thus, I do not classify the plants according to a taxonomic system often used in ethnobotany that compares like names, categories and chara cteristics with those of the Latin genus and species. Instead, I focus on Evoctive Ethnography, or highlighting the communication that crosses the sometimes perceived divide of the spiritual and physical worlds through music and movement. Spradley suggest s that translation competence or the ability to translate the meanings of one culture into a form that is appropriate to another culture is a critical task for ethnographers. Taking this recognition of semantic and therein semiotic differences, I sugge st that the written word may limit the expression and thereby the interpretation of the categories and experiences of Lucumi humannature conceptualizations and relationships. For not only does using social science terms, questions and modes of representa tion to represent another community possibly force a conformity that could be ill appropriate. A good example of this is the difference between how social scientists had been using their analytic concepts to study what become homeless men replete with thei r sterotypes rather than tramps, as they call themselves, and have their own form of language, communication and knowledge (Spradley 1979:23).
147 Social science and anthropology has a long history of imposing culturally specific frameworks upon other groups of people, often in derogatory ways. Indeed, much of Anthropologys long history is deeply embedded within racist ideology as Dell Hymes (1969) exposed in his edited book Reinventing Anthropology and Lee D. Baker (1998) expands in his monograph From Savage to Negro: Anthropology and the Construction of Race, 18961954. Continuing in this vein of looking more closely at the roots of Anthropology as they have been tied to imperialism and an evolutionary and racist episteme, Johannes Fabian (2000) in his book, Out of Our Minds: Reason and Madness in the Exploration of Central Africa, offers specific examples of the forerunners to Anthropology: the Europeans who wrote the travelogues and early ethnographic reports of the 1800s. Additionally, he furthers this tra jectory of delineating the science of anthropology (meaning an heightened focus on Enlightenment reason to make Anthropology adhere to the canons of empirical science) can create a process and a product that removes the senses in its effort to be logo-cent ric. Fabian elucidates that the process of removing the senses to be replaced by logic and ration also removes the humans and their experiences, leaving a disembodied shell of cultural interpretation. Thus, science may be an act of disembodiment, separatin g human from nature, and spirit from material. In the exploration of human differences and congruences, where is the space to interpret life in its many perceptions? Embodiment theorists like Schepher Hughes and Lock (1987) attempt to unify mind and body i n embodiment theory, yet their writing is still disembodied, focusing on the removed analysis of the mind to illustrate the logic behind why the body and the mind in their many facets are intimately connected and understood differently in distinct times and places. I too have yet to find my poetic voice that contours my analysis with the textured details of lived experiences that should be the heart of ethnography. My prose is still much like that I
148 contest of embodiment theory, which talks the theory, but does not enact the merging, fluidity of the worlds of which the word attempts expression. This lack of ability on my part and/ or inherent to the written word (at least in academe) and the inherent assumptions upon which unilear text are based, is in part why my direction has followed an alternative path of expression that of Evocative Ethnography. Sensorial Anthropology. Evocative ethnography is founded upon the Anthropology of the Senses or Sensorial Anthropology. David Howes (1991) in his edited book c alled The Anthropology of the Senses, defines this field as: primarily concerned with how the patterning of sense experience varies from one culture to the next in accordance with the meaning and emphasis attached to each of the modalities of perception. It is also concerned with tracing the influence such variations have on forms of social organization, conceptions of self and cosmos, the regulation of emotions, and other domains of cultural expression. The most basic tenet of this emergent field of study is that it is only by developing a rigorous awareness of the visual and textual biases of the Western episteme that we can hope to make sense of how life is lived in other cultural settings. Michael Lambek in the foreward to the book states, [t]o apprec iate a cultural world composed more immediately of touch and smell than of sight is to engage in an act of imagination. To report on our experience rather than merely to go native is to engage in translation. To reflect on it is to engage in theory (1991: xi). This quote appropriately summarizes some of the major tasks of my research: to imagine, to translate, and to reflect. In contrast to removing the senses from the analysis, the Anthropology of the Senses celebrates and attempts to examine different sen soriums. For instance, Paul Stoller, an anthropologist of the Songhay in Niger and author of The Taste of Ethnographic Things: The Senses in Anthropology (1989), wrote that when he became truer to the Songhay through increased sensual awareness he stopp ed just looking at their world and started also to hear, taste, and touch it[and] to appreciate the vital role senses other than vision play in any society (bookcover).
149 Anthony Seeger writes in Nature and Society in Central Brazil (1981): Just as time a nd space are not perceived by the vast majority of human societies as a regular continuum and grid, so the [sensorium] is rarely thought of in strictly biological termsThe five senses are given different emphases and different meanings in different societ ies. A certain sense may be privileged as a sensory mode. It is important to analyse how people think they perceive. Take for example, Luce Irigaray (1980), who has argued that touch is more relevant to women than sight (see also Bordo 1986). Or, Steven F eld (1991) who demonstrates how sound and specifically the sounds of the drum are integral to Kaluli epistemology Why is this sensorial realm of knowing critical to tropical conservation and development you may ask? Well, problems of Western philosophy, e conomics, politics and environmental degradation that are fundamentally engaged with a dichotomized woldview that separates subject and object, and mind from body may dissolve when and be resolved by inverting or otherwise altering the conventional Wester n hierarchy or sensing (Howes 1991: 14). So, possibly if we understand alternative perceptions of human/nature relationships, we may be able to lessen global environmental degradation. For example, if people could hear natures voices, then maybe some of the environmentally devastating acts of exploitation and consumption would be lessened, maybe people would honor and respect their extended community because they might feel the intimate connection. As David Abram explains, these voices are not English, S panish or Arabic, but instead are relational and resonant: In indigenous, oral cultures, nature itself is articulate; it speaks. There is no element of the landscape that is definitely void of expressive resonance and power: any movement may be gesture, any sound may be a voice, a meaningful utterance. To directly perceive any phenomenon is to enter into relation with it, to feel oneself in a living interaction with another being (Abram 1996: 1167).
150 As I explained in earlier chapters, Yorb epistemo logy as it is often lived in the diaspora9 is founded upon embodied means of knowledge transmission. Text is important (particularly in modern, highly literate Cuba) but not as tantamount as the spoken word, the rhythmic drum, the moving body, and even the language of the plants themselves. Thus, recalling Robert Chambers (1997) work Whose Reality Counts? Putting the First Last I opted not to conduct a quantitative based survey that ultimately might reveal more about my understanding of the world than the people from whom I was attempting to learn. Instead, he proffers participatory techniques that are ground -based and visual; and I add to that, fun! Cognitive Techniques Another visual technique that can aid in evocative ethnography is cognitive mapping, which visually maps how people understand c ertain concepts, and can also be based on collaborative research that is on the ground, experiential, participatory and fun. This technique combines statistical analyses with creative visual maps of ideas and relationships according to the perspectives of the community members themselves. Since I was investigating how Yorb practitioners in Cuba make sense of their reality according to their own categories, I chose to use cognitive techniques. Cognitive methodology is based on the principle that people understand and organize their world (including material objects, events, and experiences) according to their own cultural logic. Thus, to understand how they perceive their world, I had to first understand those concepts and categories on which they base the ir perceptions. Cognitive anthropology is founded upon the contributions of five leading scholars: Ward Goodenough, Charles Frake, Harold Conklin, Roy DAndrade, and Kimball Romney (Robertson 9 Note that contemporary Yoruba in Nigeria are about 50% Muslim, 40% Chris tian, and 10% other according to the World Religions (2009). For more detailed information on Nigerian religions and Nigeria see Chapin (1991).
151 and Beasley n.d.) Goodenough (1956; 1964)10 established a me thodology for studying cultural systems that was based on componential analysis, or feature analysis. Framing his contribution in linguistics, he constructed the study of a domain (e.g., kinship) as a matrix of plus and minus (the presence and absence of a trait). Thus both co -occurrence and distribution of traits could be analyzed. While Goodenough restricted his research to primarily kinship studies, Charles Frake expanded his data collection to ideas and objects that went beyond kinship. Frakes contribution to cognitive anthropology is his emphasis that ethnographers "should strive to define objects according to the conceptual system of the people [they are] studying" (1969:2811). In other words they should not limit their study to elicit evidence of so -called primitive thinking, but instead investigate native logic or processes of cognition when attempting to understand a domain. Harold Conklin attempted to do this with his study of Hanunoo color categories (1955). Using the degree of agreement among in dividuals in a community, Conklin divided their classification of colors into two levels. Level I included all colors whereas level II defined greater distinction. Nonetheless, as Charles Adams points out, Far more cross -cultural research has been underta ken on the topics of visual illusion and colour classification than on the perception of timbre or tactile qualities (1986:307 in Howes 1991: 15), and Howes adds not to mention the perception of olfactory or gustatory qualities (1991:15). And, I am conf ident that 10 "Componential Analysis and the Study of Meaning" (1956) and "Componential Analysis of Konkama Lapp Kinship Te rminologies" (1964). Several years later he analyzed the terminology of Yankee kinship to critique an apparent flaw with the method. That it was possible to construct many valid models using the same data was problematic. Essentially, he challenges the rel iability of the results produced stating this finding had profound implications for cultural theory, calling into question the anthropological premise that a societys culture is shared by its members" (1969: 256). He concludes that the relationship of componential analysis and cognition must remain inconclusive until further debate has been settled. Indeed, componential analysis presently serves as only a part of analytic methodology instead of its primary method. 11 Goodenough, Ward. 1956. Componential Analysis and the Study of Meaning. Language 32(1):195216.
152 Katherine Dunham (1959; 1947), Margaret Thompson Drewal (1998), and Yvonne Daniel (2005; 2001,1998) would concur that movement and dance are fundamental elements to understand religions and peoples of African -descent. Contemporary cognitive an thropologists have offered seminal theoretical and methodological contributions. For instance, Roy DAndrade critiqued the reliability and validity of informants judgment explaining that human memory must be considered. He also wrote the book The Develop ment of Cognitive Anthropology (1995) which outlines the theoretical underpinnings, the historical development, and the methodological techniques of cognitive anthropology. A. Kimball Romneys work on consensus theory and the reliability of collaborator s information has also been pivotal. He and his co authors Susan Weller and William H. Batchelder outline how this method evaluates individual expertness or a particular persons knowledge of a domain as it corresponds to that knowledge of the same domai n as expressed by several other community members in Culture as Consensus: A Theory of Culture and Informant Accuracy (1987) Numerous scholars have tested the valididty of using a consensus model for a variety of domains and have proved it to be reliabl e. Thus, the value of consensus theory for my research is that it shows that I will only need a sample of 20 40 people to gather internally accurate data ( Romney et al. 1987) assuming modest consensus on religious concepts like ash, orishas and specifica lly Osain. My research, however, is not limited to validity and reliability of conceptual ideas and patterns. Instead, a primary aspect of my work is the attempt to translate Yorb embodied and multisensory ways of interpreting the world into a style of representati on that can be understood by many different audiences, while not losing the substance, the essence, one might even say the
153 ash of these alternative ways of understanding nature. To accomplish this translation of certain diaspora epistemologies, I propose video as an integral technique of evocative ethnography. Videography Video is a significant tool to document multisensory practices of embodied epistemology (Banks and Morphy 1997; Trinh 1991; Bateson and Mead 1942). As an instrument of evocative ethnography, it has tremendous capacity for representing visceral sensations and diasporic epistemologies since it is characterized by experimental styles that can attempt to represent the experience o f living between two or more cultural regimes of knowledge (Tamblyn 1995; Marks 2000). This genre of ethnographic film may capture the enminded body (or mindful body [Scheper Hughes and Lock 1987]) as vessel of social memory, mediator of individual percept ion, and experiencer of landscape (Heckenberger 2004; Ingold 2000; Tilley 1994) via performance and practice (Bell 1997,1998; 1993 [ 1977]). Guiding my research is Laura Marks (2005) work, The Skin of the Film: Intercultural Cinema, Embodiment and the Senses in which she asserts that video uniquely maintains the ability to accomplish an evocation of alternative epistemologies, particularly those of diaspora cultures. As Marks points out, Intercultural cinema draws from many cultural traditions, many ways of representing memory and experience, and synthesizes them with contemporary Western cinematic practices (2000: 1 2). Julie Dashs (1992) Daughter of the Dust Haile Gerimas (1993) Sankofa, and Trinh Minh Has (1985) First Name Viet Last Name Nam are t hree powerful and exemplary pieces that illustrate some of the potential of videography as evocative ethnography. The French filmmaker and anthropologist Jean Rouch created evocative films of the Songhay and Dogon people. By this I mean that he did not a nalyze through a metanarrative their
154 experiences. Instead, he used the images available to film that created powerfully visceral sensations in the viewers as in the much cited Les Matres fous (1954) possession scenes. Ultimately, respect, seems one of the most important indicators of Evocative Ethnography. This kind of respect, Stoller (1989:156) argues: demands a different kind of text or film; it is a text or film in which the sensuality of life is fused with the filmic or narrative image; the smells, the tastes, the sounds, the colors lyrical an dunsettling of the land. This kind of respect, born of deep immersion in other worlds, demands that nameless informants be portrayed as recognizable individuals who suffer defeats and win victories in their soc ial worlds. This kind of of respect directs writers and filmmkers onto a radically empirical detour along which we can achieve the most simjple yet most allusive goal of ethnography: to give our readers or viewers a sense of what it is like to live in othe r worlds, a taste of ethnographic things. Challenges Although video has tremendous potential as a methodological tool, we must be aware of some of the major pitfalls and challenges of videography in research. For instance, Ong depicts the common trap of ocularcentrism (1982), which is the Western tendency to hierarchialize the senses, unequally favoring sight. However, this may be ill representative of some of the worlds cultures, which highlight other senses like balance (Geu rtz 2000; see also Csordas 1994 and Howes 1991). This idea that viewing is the foremost way of understanding another culture highlights another problem that Foucault, based on Benthams panopticon, elucidates with the concept of the gaze. The gaze is the c enter of power viewing the rest, which often exoticizes and seeks to control the image, the perspective and the representation. Lastly, one must also take into consideration the colonization and the ownership of images and representations implicit with fo reign run technology, the taking of an image (as Braun reflects upon through his film Little Girl Passing/Riverside: A film by Kwame Braun (1998), as well as MacDougall ponders in his article, Whose story is it? (MacDougall 1991).
155 Potential Despite t hes e serious drawbacks, video has tremendous potential to access community voices and perspectives. Through recognizing the filmmakers12 via self reflexive moments during the video, the filmmakers biases and background are open to inspection and included into the process and the product, vital to a more transparent production (Ruby 2000). Particularly within collaborative video -making, video may lend itself to illustrating local, plural stories, (Ginsburg 1991; Turner 1992; Ruby 2000). By showing faces with the stories, voices become people who with their individual and collective perspectives, transform informants into persons with their own voices. By recording and showing local knowledges, the status of those ways of knowing is raised and no doubt to the ownership of that knowledge is left (Protz 1998). Like Victor Masayesva Jr. Itam Hakim Hopiit (1985), I hope to allow the privacy necessary for Yorbreligion, while offering appropriate connections for actual practitioners or scholars. While Masayesva im age -ing Hopi life that protected sacred life from outsiders by representing the most important aspects of Hopi life obliquely using the life cycle of corn the Hopi staff of life, to structure the film. Itam Hakim Hopiit is a life history of the Hopi peop le and speaks in Hopi about Hopi rituals and traditions. For instance, in one scene, a Hopi woman is painting ceremonial patterns on a pot so that non Hopi or Hopi that do not speak the language will comprehend that she is describing something sacred, but the sacred elements of her speech are not translated. This style of video production helps to protect cultural traditions from prying eyes and defies views of conventional expectation that the image is the window onto a culture (Marks 2000: 39). 12 I use both film and video interchangeably to refer to digital videography; I also use filmmaker and videographer interchangeably.
156 Image, in Bergsons terms is, the complex of all sense impression that a perceived object conveys to a perceiver at a given moment (1988 in Marks 2000:40) However, each perceiver will accept different perceptions. Perception is always partial and interest ed, since it is located in a specific perceiver, it is necessarily embodied, located and contingent (Bergson  1988 in Marks 2000:41); the thing is never perceived in its fullness but only in those aspects that interest the perceiver or relate to the viewers previous experience ( Deleuze 1986 in Marks 2000). Since meaning comes through reference, each person in the audience may access distinct denotations and connotations from particular scenes, imagery, voices, words depending on the knowledge, experi ences and background of that individual. The construction of this film accepts this premise from the beginning, and does not attempt to explain with an omniscient narrating voiceover (metanarrative), nor with a barrage of titles and names, but instead thro ugh guiding/inviting the viewer in t o a participatory, sensorial interaction using the medium of video to cooperate, and intermingle thought, with memory and sensations, and thereby achieve a sense of knowing. Video may offer a medium that uniquely situate s itself for this kind of sensorial experience (Marcus 1990; Marks 2000), and this is accomplished through specific techniques which foster haptic learning, or the feeling sensations made possible through film. This type of filmic experience would replace subject centered and linear models with ones employing repetition, associative editing and non -narrative structures ( Macdougal 1990:9). David MacDougall and Alison Jablonko envision cinema practices as an ex periential or perhaps gnosiological, repetitive, poetic form of filmic organization that would foster haptic learning, learning by bodily identification (Jablonko 1988:182 as cited in Nichols 1994: 73). These efforts would move away from speaking rationa l mind to rational mind, in the discourse of scientific
157 objectivity, and toward a politics and epistemology of experience spoken from sensorial body to sensorial body. Hierarchical structures designed for the extraction of knowledge (the interview, the inf ormant, the case study) might yield to more fully personal, participatory encounter that makes an expansion or diffusion of the personal into the social and political inevitable. Rather than extract concepts and categories, falsifiable rules and generalizations, ethnographic film might respond to the call for evocation rather than representation in order to provoke an aesthetic integration that will have a therapeutic effect. It is, in a word, poetry (Tyler 1986:125 as cited in Nichols 1994:73). Video a s a hybrid medium, preserves traces of oral and written speech, and thus can be employed to facilitate new forms of intersubjectivity that link artists to their audiences (Tamblyn 1995). Video is uniquely situated to accomplish such a feat because, the wo rld of video images and signs is situated between directly lived experiences and thought processes (Tamblyn 1995: 27). Music, talk, ambient sounds and silence are all important to feelings of embodied experience. Technically, the use of layers through a technique of superimposition can place the viewer between images, sounds, memories, thoughts and representations encouraging access to those liminal spaces of betweenness. Some other aspects of cinema that allow distinct experiences include spatial configuration of the flow of time, an innate relativity and perpetual shifting of point of view, and a vivid discontinuity of the narrating material by means of montage, or the multiple layering of images and/or sounds. Dynamic aspects include si multaneity or the depiction of two separate points in space at a single instant of time, multiperspectivism, or the depiction of a single event from radically distinct points of view, and montage, or the discontinuous disposition in the narrative of diverse story eleme nts ( Cohen 1979: 208209). All of these techniques while fundamentally at
158 odds with the unilinearity of language are critical to the use of video as an alternative space of knowing. Through montage and other specific techniques, video may illustrate and evoke nonunilinear experiences (Marcus 1994; Taussig 1994). As Marcus explains, [n]ot to crack, by schematic representation of its structure, another cultures cognitive or symbolic code, but to give voice to the qualities of oral genres of communication in performance through the visual medium of film or writing is perhaps the main purpose of the resort to montage techniques in ethnography (1994: 47). These techniques are vital to this endeavor to evoke (Tyler 1986:125) nonwestern epistemologies through embodied knowing (Taussig 1994: 208), or a sensorial, tactile, haptic experience through creating a sense of feel through multisensory images and sounds (Marks 2000). The ethnographic site becomes not only transnational (Gupta and Ferguson 1997; Appadurai 1991), but what could be called transmaterial. How cinema can and ought to express the inexpressible is a challenge. Since video13 can appeal to senses that it cannot technically represent: the senses of touch, smell, taste, and closeness, then video m ight be used to not only speak of this type of sensorial learning, but also may help evoke these senses in the viewer. Cinema can be an extension of the viewers embodied existence and thereby is fundamentally mimetic meaning not solely communicated through signs but experienced in the body (Sobschack 1992 as cited in Marks 2000: 149). Through the use of haptic imagery, video works evoke memories both individual and cultural both of the subjects in the film and of the subjects in the audience. In this way, video may encourage a more embodied and multisensory relationship to the image in films especially 13 Cinema, video and film will be used interchangeably to refer t o the same medium.
159 in combination with sound, camera movement, and montage to achieve sensuous effects (Marks 2000). Collaborative v ideography Collaborative videography, in this case means that every chance I had, I handed the camera off to a wanting or willing person. Most every interview, unless I was alone, was filmed with a Cuban visual perspective. This technique of collaborative filming, offers several advantages an d a few disadvantages. An obvious advantage is that I can be in some of the shots, as interviewer or as part of the conversation, and not just a faceless voice from off camera. Recognizing that self reflexivity is a key component to research since the body that I bring to a conversation, to a home in Cuba is a critical factor in reception and information, this collaborative filming helps document that aspect. I became not omnipotent, but another human with particular history, face, story and delving into th e conversations at hand. In addition, I get to learn about what views, framing, manners of filming different Cubans appreciate and what a difference. For instance, one woman who readily took the camera from my hands during an interview with a ba balawo and resident scholar in his home, took control of the space like no other. She experimented with viewpoints from up high by standing on chairs, and down low by crouching under us. She explored the environs of his home and took video of his photos on the walls, his books, his sculptures and altar. Since she was already a close friend, she also took the liberty to go into other rooms of the house and video what she found there. She took close ups and far away shots at a multitude of angles. Thus, I was able to at tain footage, that as a newcomer and mere acquaintance I would not have felt comfortable taking, nor necessarily allowed. Another benefit is that the person whom I was interviewing has now created his own videos on Afro Cuban religion. One disadvantage though was at a few points in the conversation when he was talking, she was disinterested, and instead of filming him, she was filming other material items of his
160 home. Since I was busy conversing with him, I missed a couple of shots that would have been usef ul to my research. Sadly, the few times when people turned back to me to interview me which I encouraged, the camera would get turned off. Since I was not always in control of the camera, and often the questions came after the formal interview, I had di fficulty taping these sessions. However, not only is it good for the ethnographer to experience the possible discomfort of being on the other side of the camera without the power to control the camcorder, it is also beneficial, I think, to be on the other side of the questioning. Both the researcher and the visitor should benefit from thinking through and responding to the inquiries of the people with whom she or he is sharing concepts, space, and practice. Evocative Ethnography in the Field In this section, I will first summarize my series of visits to Cuba from 2003 -2006 and how I selected the research consultants with whom I spoke. Then, I will highlight the triangulated methodological strategy that I used while conducting research in Cuba. While I include archival, cognitive, and visual techniques in this ethnographic framework that I employed in my fieldwork, I primarily attend to the use of videography as a way to direct attention toward embodied aspects of learning and knowing vital to understan ding Yorb knowledge and ways of knowing nature. Field Visits and Consultants In 1996, I spent my first month on Cuban soils the middle of the Special Period, I indeed witnessed first hand the empty stalls of the markets, the lack of gasoline for transportation, the spilling over camellos, and the bikes that became the main transpo ration for entire families. I stayed with doctors, psychologists, teachers, nurses, hairdressers, and accountants in Alamar, Havana, Cienfuegos and a small rural town outside of Cienfuegos. I traveled by hitchhiking. And
161 mainly I asked along the way what do you [who live here] think of Fidel and Cuban socialist policies and life? At the University of Florida, I attempted to do my investigation for the Masters degree studying ecotourism in Pinar del Rio, Cuba, but I could not navigate the redtape to obtain permission from the United States government to conduct my research. Instead, I went to the Dominican Republic and hoped to return to Cuba for my doctoral studies, possibly doing a comparative analysis. The redtape on both the United States side and the C uban side was a constant challenge even during the investigation For instance, when Florida passed a state -wide legislation that stated it to be illegal for Floridian scholars (this law was not applicable nationwide) to visit terrorist nations, which Cuba was relegated, I was forced to begin to write proposals for Brazil and Nigeria and continue only to hope that I would be able to legally finish my dissertation research on Yoruba religion and ecology in Cuba. In 2003, a few African diaspora scholars from the University of Florida decided to go to Oyontunji and visit. Thus, Dr. Robin Poynor, University of Florida professor of Yorb art history and Dr. Ade Ofunniyin, at the time a graduate student of Anthropology and now provost of a American College of th e Building Arts (ACBA) in South Carolina, along with a few classmates who were all studying African diaspora religions and life, went to Oyotunji, South Carolina. There, we interviewed different babalawos on camera, filmed a tour of Oyotunji, as well as fi lmed the procession of the main Queens birthday. As Ofunniyin describes the history of Oyotunji in his dissertation (2009). In the early 1970s, the group of African Americans rejected Yorb/Catholic syncretism as an outdated compromise to a slave relig ion (Hunt 1979) and moved their Yorb Temple away from Harlem New York to Sheldon South Carolina Village. The village was to serve as a commune devoted to the practice and study of African religion (Holloway 1991: 123). It was also designed to be a space for the initiation and training of priests and adherents, to establish an independent African society, and to
162 recreate Yorb culture within the United States (Hunt 1979: xii). As the spiritual center for this movement, create a Yorb Kingdom in South Carolina, based on Yorb traditions, including patterns of work, marriage, language, dress, and social organization (ibid). eans ( -tn -j) and was chosen to express Efuntolas desire to see Yorb culture revived and recreated in the United States The city hav e been the largest and most powerful Yorb kingdom (see Johnsons History of the Yorb, Clarkes Mapping Yorb Networks). whereas ng is the Other differe and candles in ancestral rituals and coconut instead of kola nut for divination These ritual elements are New World / ceremonies. In Janu ary 2004, 2005 and 2006 I attended the Casa de Africa conference called the Scientific Workshop of Afroamerican, Social and Cultural Anthropology in Havana, Cuba. There, I met and solidified relationships with scholars, practitioners and professionals in t he field of Afro Cuban religions, while I stayed in El Vedado, Havana Vieja and Alamar. By staying in different locales, I immediately understood the difficulty that most Cubans draw attention to: that of transportation. Between walking, hitchhiking, camel los national carros that hold several people and go along set routes, bicycle taxis, and tourist taxis, transportation is unreliable and time -consuming most of the time. Nonetheless, Cubans know to allow a lot of extra time to arrive anywhere. Additionall y, I noticed how even an academic conference in Afro Cubans stresses the importance and integration of art, dance and music by scholars, by artists, and by both, since many Cubans seamlessly incorporate multiple identities. Cuban Collaborators My research attempts to delineate some of these identities in different people and in their overlapping convergences in the same person. In this vein, I am following a methodological framework that calls for researchers to integrate multiple perspectives within their
163 methodological frameworks (Rojas 2000; Schmink 1999; Harrison 1998; Feldstein and Jiggins 1994). Thus, the Cubans whom I interviewed were chosen primarily through snowball sampling and included Lucum practitioners, scientists, scholars, government workers nongovernment workers, and laypeople with diverse roles and occupations. These interviews are in addition to the ones conducted for the cognitive methods (N = 33). Of these thirty three individuals, twelve were female, and eleven male. Their ages can be s plit into five main groups: 20 29; 3039; 4049; 5059; and 6079. In both the youngest and the oldest group, there were the fewest at three and two people respectively. The rest of the three middle groups composed the majority of the collaborators mostly equally divided among the three with a few more in the their thirtees. As for the Orishas that they followed, Chango and Oshun had three followers each while Yemaya and Elegua had two each. Oya, Babaluaye, Orula, Arguye and Ochosi all had one follower eac h. And four respondents were either not practicing the religion or were not yet initiated, and three did not respond. Table 4 2.Table of Interlocutors by age sex and Orisha. 20 29 30 39 40 49 50 59 60+ #9F28None #11M21Eleggua #12F28Argallu #24M20Yemaya #26F27 Eleggua #27F26Oya #33F25NoneYem #3M35Oshun #4F39Oshun #8M30Orula #13FWilmaAssYor #17M31Obatala #19M36 Eleggua #20M36Oya #21F32Ochun #28M32Yemaya #32F36Id Ochun #2F40None #6M46Chango #7M44None #15F42Yemaya #18M41Ochosi #5F53Ndios #10F53None #14M55Chango #16M51Chango #31F57Obatala #23F55Babaloaye #25F50Ochun #29F52Ochun #1F63Chango #22F76Yemaya #30F67Obatala Cognitive Techniques in the Freelist water and on the other side of the paper, individual practices of conservation (D Andrade 1995). Similar to the freelists I conducted with residents in Gainesville, Florida whom I asked to write down everything that comes to mind when you think of spirituality and nature, in Cuba ( Appendix A for the freelists of Nature and
164 Spirituality compiled), I asked for respondents to write down everthing that comes to mind when they think of water. I selected water instead of nature because by that time I knew that water was a key natural element significant for Matanzas residents and Yorb pract itioners as well as a natural resource issue in terms of degradation and conservation. Then, I conducted pile sorts ( Appendix C shows the concepts used for the pilesorts) and semi -structured, open-ended interviews with a Yorb affiliated population selec ted through convenience and snowball sampling ( N= 33). Additionally, in Matanzas, I interviewed temple priests ( santero/a) selected through stratified convenience sampling. The sample included females and males, individuals with dark and light skin color, and those who were less and more materially wealthy (according to the critieria of a local scholar of Lucum). These research participants did pile sorts and semi -structured interviews with me (N=12); Appendix D (in English) and Appendix E (in Spanish) for a list of semi -structured questions that I used to further the open-ended conversations. Since, I had recorded the interviews with microcassette tapes, I was able to transcribe them upon my return. Then, with the aid of qualitative analysis books and articles (e.g., Wickham and Woods 2005; Ryan and Bernard 2003; Corbin and Strauss 1990) and a dissertation study group comprised of other students (Omaira, Geraldo, and Wendy -Lin) who were analyzing their data and writing up their dissertation, I found common themes in the responses and color -coded them (Appendix F). Later when my next dissertation study group (Rosanna, Ermitte, and Jai) was reading through my chapters that entailed data analysis, they helped me to see that Osain was the focus the node of diff erence around that my research should help unravel. Videography in the Field Therefore, in January 2005, I digitally videotaped some of that years Casa de Africa conference, and in February 2005, I began digitally videotaping interviews with scientists,
165 scholars, and Lucum practitioners, especially Osainistas (initiated priests of herbs and healing) on Lucum learning pra ctices, concepts and interactions with nature, environmental concerns and Yorb performances, street scenes, and television shows. I w as also able to videotape scenes of el monte the forests and waters where many of the herbs are selected for healings and initiations in the Havana area. Additionally, I showed the video (Chapter 7 with Spanish subtitles) to the consultants featured in it Lucum scholars and videographers in Cuba, to get their feedback. Figure 4 2. Pictures of Havana and Matanzas, the two primary locations I conducted freelists and pilesorts. In November and December 2006, at the tumultuous time when Fidel fell ill and conceded power to his brother Ral Castro, I conducted more interviews (digitally videotaping most of them) with scientists, scholars, practitioners, and laypeople on development and how they envisioned and would like to imagine their future in Cuba ( A ppendix G for a list of the open -ended questions). I also videotaped images of street scenes, television shows, and the Communist mother and the Russian mother -in -law of a couple who had just moved to Guatemala. The mothers were putting up a Christmas tree together in the Russians home, and talking about their children in Guatemala; life, health, and religion in Cuba; and comparing Cuba life to that in the Soviet Union for the past and the future. Then, we hitchhiked to the beach and
166 celebrated by drinking from a fresh coconut that a local man had climbed up and gotten for us opening it masterfully with his machete. I was able to use video as a more visual approach along with focus groups, on the floor pile -sorts, and open -ended semi -structured questions to allow for a more conversational approach to learning which concepts were most important to Yoruba practitioners in Cuba when discussing their religion, particularly in terms of understanding their views of nature. Figure 4 3. Photo of El Capitolio. Almost everyday while I was in Havana, I would visit the Yorb Association, which was located just beyond the Capitolio. When the Capitolio began to offe r internet services, I would also go there frequently, and then go to the Yorb Association just down the block.
167 Thus, I primarily explore the use of video as a tool of evocative ethnography for data collection, interpretation and illustration in addition to cognitive, archival and traditional ethnographic techniques in order to more fully comprehend the distinctive relationships that the Lucum share with their environment. My research uses collaboratively filmed interviews, dances, sacred songs, medicina l herb collection and preparation, among many other religious and quotidian Cuban activities to illustrate and contextualize Lucum religio -ecological relationships within a contemporary Cuban landscape In addition to using visual techniques for data coll ection, I also use them for evocation. Therefore, my dissertation incorporates still photographs, video segments and music clips in order to highlight and evoke the sensorial feel of Lucum relationship s with nature. Summary and Conclusion Embodiment is a n epistemological tool that reminds us not to separate so categorically the mind from the body, the spirit from the world, the empirically verifiable and the supposedly less so, and instead to research connections, relationships and communications. In ques tioning the importance of categorical differences, Geertz reminds us that we should look less for unyielding laws, and more for meaning. Indeed, our diligent mental and mindful work of separating, categorizing, and naming may not get us any closer to under standing what is meaningful to the people with whom we are studying. Thus, embodiment becomes a critical concept for religious studies scholars and ecological anthropologists alike to gain greater insight into worldviews that integrate relationships with a nd communication among seen and unseen beings, spirit, matter, mind, soul and energy in an intersubjective universe. Lucum cosmology, practices and practitioners illustrate an embodied epistemology through their use of music, possession and divination tha t collapse boundaries of spirit and matter into fluid, communicative embodied experiences. And hopefully as the rest of
168 this work and the documentaries illustrate, an evocative ethnographic methodology holds a possibility to not only interpret but also to experience these ways of knowing that collapse a divide between the material and the spiritual into a cosmos of conversations among subjective and spiritual beings.
169 CHAPTER 5 LUCUM RELIGION: SPIRITS ARE THE WATERS AND THE SACRED FOREST Javier exclaimed to me that he wanted people to learn about his religion, to understand its beauty how beautiful it is. Most people dont understand it he said, but it is truly marvelous, and its beauty should be understood. It is true, when you mention Sa ntera to most people in the States, if they have heard of it, it is of the slaughter and blood use. It seems barbaric, one person told me. The imagery does not offer the nuances, or the foundation of what the religion is about immersed in a colonial pe rspective it is seen as witchraft. To better understand Lucum religion and how Lucum practitioners conceptualize nature, Tylors animism which locates animist religions as evolutionarily inferior to monotheist ones may not be sufficient. Perhaps, relat ional epistemology would aide the endeavor, because it highlights the notion of the intersubjective relationships between spirits, nature, and humans (Bird -David 1999). Yet, it too does not necessarily access the embodied and sensorial elements, which are fundamental to the religion and how nature becomes to be understood in a Yorb diaspora context in Cuba. Yorb practitioners do not appear to understand their world within a conceptual framework of spirit versus matter. Instead, followers of Regla de Ocha seem to interpret the landscape as repositories of ash and orishas of power that can be brought from the spiritual world into the physical (and vice versa) and of subjective and spiritual beings who have human bodies, personalities and environmental attributes. This factor of human intervention in the world of matter through embodied techniques of ritual, which access and harness the spiritual, is a key finding and is located at the core of not only this chapter, but also this dissertation. In contra st to most research on Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), this chapter does not attempt to find or explain taxonomic categories that are similar to scientific nomenclature
170 (e.g., Conklin 1954; Berlin, Breedlove, and Raven 1974) nor does it try to deli neate similarities to a Linnean based, hierarchically structured, organizational model in order to explain how nature is understood for the Lucum. Instead, the traditional ecological knowledge that I attempted to gather and now attempt to express has mor e to do with the conceptions and relationships that the literature, my interviews and my experiences signal as meaningful to the people with whom I collaborated. Accordingly, I begin this section14 meant to offer insight into Lucum religion through transla ting (via textual and visual means) two of the fundamental concepts of the religion itself ash and orishas Both of these conceptual portholes develop from a firm conceptual foundation that the boundary between material and spiritual worlds is negotiable; and that nature should be understood not as an inert object but as multiple subjective agents of change therein the title: who is nature? While I illustrate how nature is conceptualized as both material and spiritual, both mundane and sacred, both an obje ct and a subject, I will continue to illustrate how nature, religion and humans enact what I am calling embodied epistemology. In other words, their learning of the religion, their interaction with nature, the deities, and the rituals serve to navigate the meaning and the use of power meant to improve lived reality. The religion is focused on improving the present a nd future conditions of living in this world. They connect with spiritual powers to improve material realities, which include problems of financ es, health, and love. In an effort to employ what I call evocative ethnography, I use video clips, sound clips and photography to help entice the reader to become not a passive viewer, or a cognitive examiner, but a participant in the act of learning Lucu m realms of embodied knowing. These realms 14 I had first begun this section on Lucum religion with the belief in one universal God even though, according to the system, and the quote that I have illustrating the genesis, ash is first. Yet, instead of beginning the Religion chap ter with Ash, I felt the need to create a new section, called Cosmology to explain the principles of belief. Interesting demonstration of how my culture guides my scholarship and explanatory prose.
171 include a more fully integrated comprehension of religion, human-nature relationships, knowledge transmission, and environmental conceptions and practices. The next chapter will delve specifically into getting to know the orisha Osain the owner of the sacred forests of healing herbs and his followers the Osainistas, who are the Lucum practitioners, initiated into the secret knowledge of accessing and mobilizing the ash of the plants. They are the healers and the herbalists using traditional medicine and magic to improve the longevity and quality of life on earth. The Embodiment of Spiritual and Material A human being is an integral part of nature -the stone, the tree is part but they are not equals. Nature is mystery. Nature is everything15 explains the Obatal follower, Vitalia in the restaurant at the Yorb Association in Havana, Cuba. Figure 5 1 Obatal practitioner, Vitalia in the Yorb Association, Havana, Cuba 15 Un ser humano es parte integrante de la natureleza, la piedra, el arbol es parte pero no son iguales. La natureleza es misterio. La natureleza es todo. Vitalia (Obatal)
172 Ash Genesis. In the beginning was Ash [spirit] and Ash was everything. When Ash began to think Ash became Olodumare. When Oludumare began to act, Olodumare became Olofi, and it was Olofi who created Obatal, the first orisha. In those days there was no separation between heaven an d earth. (Canizares1999:40) Ash is fundamental to the Yorbreligion; it is the embodiment of spiritual and material worlds. Ash (also spelled Ase, As, Axe, Ash) is the life force that runs though all things; ash is the "power to make things happen" (Thompson 1984:5). It is an affirmation that is used in greetings and prayers, as well as a concept about spiritual growth. As Ramos explains, Ash is the embodiment of power, energy, and authority (2005). In Cuba, ash is known commonly as luck. Some people are recognized to have more ash than others; they have more power, health and harmony. People are said to have ash in a certain skill or task too. As A., a local scholar of Yorb defines ash, if you look at it from Yorb philosophy, it is a vibration, it is a power, like a benediction, like a power of blessing. It is a grace that each person has.16 It is a Saint. And also it signifies luck. Ash is luck. For instance, there are people who have luck in life, and you tell them that they have ash, because they have their own individualizad luck (pers comm 2005). 17 Even people who are not practitioner s speak in these terms. A friend of mine, who is not a practitioner, was telling me about her daughter, and tried to explain that her daughter did not have luck, meaning this luck of life. Javier a Matanzas 16 El ash, el ash, en realidad si lo miras de la filosofa Yoruba es una vibra, vibracin, es un poder, como bendicin, poder bendicin una gracia que tiene una persona (A:2004). 17 T: El ash es, como decir, un, algo que se prepara, en el cuarto, lo que es el cuarto ya del orisha como tal, y es lo que l e pone la madrina a un ahijado. (T) Es un santo. Y tambien significa suerte. Ash e s suerte. Que hay personas que tienen suerte de la vida, y tu lo dices que tiene ash porque tiene su suerte propia.
173 Osainista speaking to me, continued to attempt t o define ash: Ash is virtue, it is health, it is gastronomy, the person Ash, how do you say, is to have virtue, to have a proficiency (grandiose) in something. You have ash in this investigation that you are doing. In other words, I have ash with he rbs, I have ash in Santera, I have ash in life, ash. How can I explain to you with only a/one word. Virtud is something, virtue luck.18 I then commented, I had understood before that ash was more like a spiritual lifeforce19. Immediately, though Javier retorts that Ash doesnt have anything to do with spirituality Everything good is ash, a person who has ash is happy, ash is used to heal someone, to cure, so that people feel good, to be able to resolve their problems There are many kinds o f ash, ash Olofi, ash babalao, ash orula, numerous ashs. The spiritists do not say ash, he continues, they say light ( luz ), a lot of light20. When I had said spiritual then, he understood Spiritist, and he was distinguishing between the two. An important distinction to make for many, even though or maybe because a lot of overlap exists, according to the practitioner and scholar, Canizares, is that ash is a single primal force [that] evolved into awareness Olodumare and then into action Olofi ( 1999: xxi). Ash is the ultimate source of everything (Canizares 1999: 5) as referenced in the story of Genesis that began this chapter. 18 Ash es virtud, es salud, es gastrologo, la persona Ash como dices tener virtud grandiose en una cosa. Tu tienes un ash de la in vestigacin que estas haciendo. O sea yo tengo ash en la herba, tengo ash in la Santera tengo ash en la vida, el ash Como decirte una palabra. Virtud es una cosa, virtud, suerte. .(J. 2004). 19 A: Yo habia entendido antes el ash mas como vida es piritual, algo asi como la.. 20 J: El ash no tiene que ver nada con la espiritualidad. ..Todo lo bueno, el ash, una persona que tiene un ash es dichosa, es que, un ash para sanar un apersona, para curar, para que las personas se sientan bien, para poder resolver tus problemas Hay mucho ash, ash Olofi, ash bacalao ash orula, algunos ashses. (Los espiritisatas no dicen ash dicen luz., mucha luz).
174 Although no single definition can express all that ash encompasses, Pierre Verger who studied the African diaspora o n its different continents as a photographer, self -taught ethnographer and babalawo (Yorb priest of Ifa) clarifies: The Yorb have never seen the as (ash), and cannot pretend to personify it. Nor can they define it by determined attributes and charac teristics. It embraces all mystery, all secret power, all divinity. No enumeration could exhaust this infinitely complex idea. It is not a definite or definable power, it is Power itself in an absolute sense, with no epithet or determination of any sortit is the principle of all that lives or acts or moves. All life is as (in Ramos21 2005, my italics). Ash is a primary example of how the divide between material and spiritual get collapsed and traversed. As such, it is illustrative of this concept of em bodiment, which I note is critical to understand Lucum conceptions and interactions with their environment, or Lucum religion and ecology. Ash does not have its own physical form its own body instead ash is spirit or pure consciousness that brings luck, prosperity and blessings to each body within which it resides. Ash, the divine force, is within us all. Ramos discusses a myth that he says illustrates that ash is part of everything, and he sums this up in the following sentence: When the calabash of wisdom22 fell from the hands of Ogbed ash and knowledge were dispersed to every corner of the earth (2005: 4). This story indicates that every element of earth has ash. Not only does everyone and everything have some amount of ash, a sh can be transmutated, created and passed on. Note that the ability to create the vital energy of the universe, ash, is in direct conflict with most scientific epistemes, yet is a fundamental aspect of Yorb epistemology. Ash also refers to certain material objects. As Ramos explains (2005: 8): 21 Ash: Divine Essence of Existence Miguel Ramos presented at the 54th Annual Convention of the Ca tholic Theological Society of America for a panel discussion entitled "Possible Contributions of AfroCuban Religion to Catholic Theology of Grace: An Interreligious Dialogue." Miami, June 11, 1999. 22 Youll notice a very similar story in the next chapter on Osain too.
175 Ash is both abstract and concrete. It is important to make a clear distinction between ash, the energy or force, and the materials that Olorishas23 use in rituals and offerings, possessors of this energy, that are also called ash Herbs, fruits, roots, animals, foodstuffs, stones, soil from different points in nature, and so forth, are compounded according to established formulas. The mystic energy contained within these elements is materialized and its animative energy dire cted toward the resolution of lifes crises. This is one of the most important qualities of ash the fact that it not only exists, but that it can also be used, manipulated, and brought to further fruition. The ash of a specified orisha is the vital eleme nt that is physically placed in the head of an initiate through an incision during the first initiation ceremony. The work of a practitioner sometimes is to access the ash of something or infuse an object with the power of ash In conversation with A., a nother practitioner T., explains another aspect of ash, Ash is something that one prepares, in the room, that which is the room that is already dedicated to the orisha as such, and it is that which the godmother la madrina spiritual mother puts on/gives to her godson. The bodies in which ash resides are human, orisha, geographic, plant, stone, and other vessels. The material world is not considered profane in contrast to the spiritually sacred as Eliade has noted in some religions. Platos expla nation of God as the tailor and humans as merely the cloth that the tailor sews, yet separate from the actual tailor, also does not fit. Instead, the sacred and the divine are integral part of humans, nature, and everything. In fact, the concept of evil as opposed to godly (good) does not exist. Instead, as humans are part divine, the divine is part human. The divine is immanent, and makes mistakes. To err is human and divine; it is part of life and living. The patak, or the stories are not meant to show perfection, but utter humanness instead. Each divinity and each story is packed with human flaws, shortcomings, and consequences. They are full of lessons to live more appropriately in this world. 23 Olorishas are the children of the orishas, or practitioners.
176 This earthly world is not reduced to an inferior matter whil e the Godly spiritual lies in a faraway ever after. As such, the goal of this life does not revolve around reaching the next life. Instead, living a high quality and long life on earth tends to be the focus of the religion. Relationships between the entities (human, environment, and spirit) are emphasized. Humans are able to communicate and interact with, receive guidance and ask permission from, and even embody the divine. From initiation rituals, in which the ash (energy, consciousness and power) of the orisha is placed into the head of the initiate through an incision, to possession through dru mming and dancing; to communication through shells, coconut pieces, and oral stories; to requesting permission to use the powers of the plant world, the energy and power of the orisha relationships with humans is an embodied one. Orishas Who and what are the orishas? The Yorb universe, according to Canizares is inhabited by co -dependent beings who have responsibilities to one another (1999:5). These beings are called orishas (also spelled Orisas, Orixas and Orichas) Although the amount of orishas number more than 600 (Gonzales Wippler 1999:239), the most popular amount to fewer than 24, with only about a dozen considered important in Cuba. As the chart clearly shows, each of the orishas embody specific environmental elements, human pursuits, colors and in Cuba and the much of the Yoruba diaspora, Roman Catholic saints. Certain days of the week and dates of the years are saved as holidays to celebrate and venera te specific orishas. Each orisha has specific foods and certain herbs that are under her and his domain.
177 Table 5 1. Chart of a few of the most popular Cuban orishas.
178 Each orisha is the embodiment of the physical realm (representing a natural element), the spiritual realm (a deity) and the human realm (a personification of human emotions vices, virtues and talents). Each orisha, or deity, is associated with environmental elements, colors human emotions, human pursuits, and Roman Ca tholic saints as Table 5 1 illustrates. For instance, Obatalas day to be celebrated during the year is September 24, as well as each Thursday during the week. I know a Puerto Rican woman in Gainesville, Florida who is a follower of Obatala, and says she must venerate her orisha by wearing white every third day. This orisha is considered one of the supreme orishas for s/he1 is one of the first orisha created and is known as the god of peace. Obatala in all of her and his 24 avatars is equated to white and purity. Practitioners who follow Obatala wear white beaded necklaces and offer the foods s/he likes including everything white, like milk, rice pudding, doves and hens. This orisha avoides alcohol, and so should his followers. Plants and herbs like cotton, onions, tamarind, maravilla biedo blanco, and almendro are intimately connected to Obatala. Notice in the Figure below how the altar for Obatalaa is almost all white. Obatala rules bones and a persons head. As an orisha associated with the mind, s/he is said to help thinkers like doctors and lawyers. Also, the biophysical features that Obatala reigns over are the mountains and the hills (Gimenez n.d.) Many orisha followers claim that Fidel Castro is associated with Obatala, and that is why he is so protected from harm. One instance that illustrates this connection (that I was told repeatedly by both Yoruba practitioners and Cubans who were not practitioners) is when Fidel gave his first speech on the historical date of 8 January 1959, 7 days after Batista had fled the country. On this occasion, he was standing in front of the crowds, and three white doves came 1 Obatala is considered androgynous and contains both sexes. Sometimes people refer to this orisha as male, and other times as female. In Cuba, the male pronoun is often used.
179 circling around him. One landed on his shoulder. This connection with the white dove was extremely significant for Cubans, including Orisha followers. Figure 5 2. Obatala altar. Obatala is significant for Oyotunji, the African Village in South Carolina. The whole village is dedicated to his veneration. Oba Osejiman Adefunmi I, who founded Oyotunji, was initiated into the Yoruba religion in Cuba as an ajiado, godson, of Obatala. In sum, the orishas help connect the material world to the spirutal worlds in different geographic locations; they are the intermediaries. They are spirit s that ref lect one of the manifestations of Olodumare, the creator God in the Yorb spiritual and religious system. Olodumare: One Universal God For the Lucum in Cuba and other Yorb practitioners, there is only one universal God, and that Gods name is Olodumare Olodumare combines spirit with matter through personifying
180 thought and action. Ash (spirit) became Olodumare (thought or self -reflective consciousness, ration), which then became Olofi (ability to act and enact): to be to become to change. Although, it was not always this way, Olodumare is too remote from the human world for direct communication, thus intermediaries are needed. The following parable, or Pataki (story to help guide) explains the original separation of the material and spiritual realms as well as the origin of these intermediaries known as the orishas Embodied in the orishas are concepts of how humans must relate between the worlds of materiality and spirituality. The implications of these are significant in the attempt to understand the who aspects of Yorbconceptions of nature. Consider Canizares rendering of the following Pataki: Why God Left the World. In the beginning, Olofi, the orishas, and the humans all lived in harmony.What really made Olofi leave the earth, however, was that he had become so identified with the earth that every time a root was pulled to be cooked, he felt as if his hair was being pulled out by the roots. Fed up, Olofi left the earth, creating a chasm between his abode and the world; only Obatal and Eleggua k now how to reach him. Olofi deserves veneration because he is God, but one should not ask him favors; that is why he left the orishas behind, to take care of human needs (Canizares 1993: 63). Perhaps the following conversation that I shared with a praciti oner will help elucidate the role that orishas play in human lives. Javier expressed, They help me a lot in my life, they help me have the strength to livethey have helped me to have health, tranquility, to have a reason, you have to get to know them, dont you? In order to learn and to coexist with them. They are saints. When I inquired, what is a saint? he responded, a saint for me is, that which is the closest to God ...they are the ones who are the closest to god Olofi. They are the ones who hel p you in everything, they give you a lot of health, they try to resolve your problems, not that
181 they can resolve everything, because each one of us is born with a destiny (pers comm 2004).2 He further elaborates what he means by destiny by explaining, If you are going to get sick from a cold, you have to get sick [same thing, if you are going] to die from an illness that has your life marked, you die. But they help you live. This concept that the orishas help you live is potent. The main focus of the Or isha religion is on bringing the spiritual into the physical and transforming the physical into the spiritual so that humans may live a better life. J. continues to explain, I know people who have been very sick. They han hecho sus santos [have been in itiatied ] and they have changed. Or I know people who have been alcoholicsand the saints helped them.3 Canizares acknowledges this process of transformation that can occur through knowing the orishas: With knowledge of the correspondences between cele stial forces and the mundane, the adept can effect change on the physical plane and personal growth on the spiritual (Canizares 1999: xxii). Thus, the orishas function and help connect (enact change) in the macrocosm and the microcosm with their essences being human and divine at the same time. To illustrate the material and spiritual conceptions of natural elements and I conducted some cognitive techniques. Cognitive Mapping of Nature Conceptualized as Material and Spiritual Yoruba cosmology conceptualizes water as both material and spiritual. Thus, I used cognitive mapping techniques to test and illustrate how water may be conceptualized as both 2me ayudan mucho en mi vida, me ayudan a tener fuerza para vivir, no se, me han ayudado a tener salud, tranquilidad, a tener una razn, hay que conocerlos no?/// para aprender a convivir con ellos. son santos [que es un santo] un santo para mi es, lo que mas cerca de dios esta son los que mas cerca estan de deos de Olofi. Y son los que, la palabra santo lo dice. Son los que te ayudan para todo, te dan mucha salud, tratan de, de resovlete tus problemas, no que te los pueen resolver todos, porque cada cua l nacemos con un destino. 3 de cual enfermarte de un catarro, tiene que enfermarte Morirte de una enfermedad que tiene marcada tu vida, te mueres, pero te ayudan a vivir mucho. Conozco peronas que han estado muy enfermas. Se han hecho sus santos y han cambiado, o han sido alcoholocios, o han sido una vida y el santo los ayuda.
182 spiritual and material for Lucum practitioners how a biophysical element like a river may embody a human emotion like love and a spiritual goddess like Oshun. Water is and has been vital in Cuban humannature relationships, as we saw in Chapter 2 on the historical interactions of Cubans, Africans, Afro Cubans and their landscapes. Wa ter, in Chapter 2, was analyzed through an historical lens examining specific political, economic, agricultural and hydrogeological relations. Yet, another fundamental feature of water must be considered when attempting to understand Yoruba religion and ec ology its sprituality. In July 2004, individuals (N= 20) selected through convenience sampling primarily from the Yorb Association in Havana were asked to freelist water and individual practices of conservation ( DAndrade 1995) Like the freelists I did in the States, I simply had the word(s) at the top of the page with some other sociodemographic4 questions, and then requested that people write down anything and everything that the concept(s) brought to their minds. In Gainesvill e, Florida, the top of the page had nature and spirituality since I was not confident that people would offer me any spiritual aspects unless I directly requested them. And, as the cognitive map illustrates (Figures 3 6 and 3 7), the biophysical elements of nature were clustered together, yet physically and thereby conceptually at opposite ends of the spectrum where the elements of spirituality were clustered. After collecting the responses from the freelists in Cuba I performed a frequency analysis to gather the most utilized concepts Then, I placed each of the forty two5 most common 4 Name, Sex, Occupation, Level of Education, Religion, Orisha, Age, Place of Birth, Place of Growing Up, Time Involved in the Religion, Time with this Orisha, How Many and Which Family Members Involved in Religion and Philosophy of Life. 5 According to cognitive techniques, forty is the appropriate number to be able to gather sufficient results for the pilesorts (Romney et al. 1987).
183 concepts on individual cards. Next, when I went to practitioner, scholar, and Yorb artist houses, offices, and to the Yorb Association, I would bring several stacks of these cards and ask Cubans to sort them. In Matanzas, I asked these twelve Cubans who were Lucum practitioners (including temple priests [ santeros/as ] both, female and male, of dark and light skin color and less and more materially wealthy [as according to a local scholar of Lucum]) to c ategorize the concepts by grouping together the cards that they found to be conceptually similar. The only rules were that they could not put all of the cards in one pile, nor each card in its own pile. Figure 4 1 shows an example of one of these pilesorts. You can see that Caridad del Cobre, ro, and Oshun lie in the top middle group. The top middle column of cards places Oshun, ro (river), and Caridad del Cobre together into a group that signifies similarity. Oshun is the goddess of the river, and her syncretic rendition is La Caridad del Cobre. Figure 5 3. An example of a pilesort of water.
184 Field Story: Conducting Pilesorts in Matanzas, Cuba Sitting on yet another refreshingly cold cement floor, I hand out one set of forty two cards to each of the Yorb practitioners present; I hand out a copy of the index cards which I had made and brought from Florida for this purpose. As per protocol, each card displays a word that other practitioners had listed as integral to their definition of water. From these freelists, I was able to cull the most frequently mentioned ideas and put each one on a separate card that I cut into approximately one by three inch squares. And there I was, on one more floor asking practitioners in Matanzas, Cuba to sort and categorize these words these concepts of water putting whichever ones they felt belonged together together and whichever ones deserved a separate category s eparate. The only rule, I explained, was that all of the cards could not go in one pile, nor could all forty two of the cards go in separate piles. In order to examine the unique ways that different Lucum practitioners conceptualize nature within their religion, one of the techniques I chose was cognitive mapping. Through pile sorts, semi -structured interviews, open ended interviews and multidimensional analyses with a Yorb affiliated population6 selected through convenience and snowball sampling (N= 33), I was able to visually map their conceptions in a participatory way (Chambers 1999; Feldstein and Jiggins 1994). 6 I say Yorb affiliated to call attention to the different degrees of participation by the Cubans I interviewed.
185 Using the data from these pilesorts and Stephen Borgattis Anthropac, I was able to create a cluster analysis and a multidimensional sca ling (MDS). As Borgatti (1997) who created the software to conduct the cognitive analyses including MDS, explains7, From a nontechnical point of view, the purpose of multidimensional scaling (MDS) is to provide a visual representation of the pattern of proximities (i.e., similarities or distances) among a set of objects. For example, given a matrix of perceived similarities between various brands of air fresheners, MDS plots the brands on a map such that those brands that are perceived to be very similar to each other are placed near each other on the map, and those brands that are perceived to be very different from each other are placed far away from each other on the map. (Borgatti 1997). Th rough a multidimensional analysis (MDS), th e groupings or cluster s are visually mapped. And, much like a map of the Americas where Canada is distant geographically from Chile. In a MDS mapping, the spatial distance equates to perceptual difference. Thus, nature and spirituality Figure 5 4. Metaphysical concept ions of water and nature. 7 From a slightly more technical point of view, what MDS does is find a set of vectors in pdimensional space such that the matrix of euclidean distances among them corresponds as closely as possible to some function of the input matrix according to a criterion function called stress (Borgatti 1997).
186 were perceived as very different for Gainesville residents. Yet, for Yorb practitioners, nature and spirituality were conceptually linked; the physical and the metaphysical mingle (see Figure 4 2 ). If you observe the words in b lue (i.e., profundity, beach, respect, Yemaya, mystery, universal mother and virgen of la regla) as well as the words in yellow (i.e., caridad del cobre tesoro alegra oshun, amor ), then you should immediately recognize that human qualities like happine ss ( alegra ) and love ( amor ) are interspersed with the Yorb orisha Oshun and the synretized saint of Caridad del Cobre. Thus, the water of the rivers are considered sweet and contain love, happiness and all of the other qualities of the orisha Oshun. Thr ough a cognitive analysis employing freelists and pile sorts, a map of the primary concepts of nature illustrate that practitioners conceptions of nature are not separate from their spirituality, but deeply integrated. This mapping of conceptualizing natu re concurs with the literature and my ethnographic data. The physical and the metaphysical merge together reinforcing the perceptions of nature as bio-physical elements and as specific deities with human characteristics. Notice the difference between this map and the nature and spirituality map of Gainesville, Florida residents (Figure 3 6 and 37). Life and mystery though, and the mysterious, was (probably) the most mentioned aspect of nature. However, this mystery was not conceptualized as unknowable in their epistemology or in their empirical practices. The body and the physical realm are not considered so separate from the spiritual realm that there cannot be a crossing of the divide; instead the body and the physical realm house the spiritual realm, th us are the manner/medium to access and even communicate with the spiritual. And, it is through communicating appropriately with the spiritual realm that humans can access the powers and the mysteries of the natural realms.
187 The orishas are not only fundamental in the transformation of the human experience, but also in the conception and interaction with nature. Javier exclaims, And no one, and no one who doesnt know the religion, no one who doesnt know the language, who doesnt know the saints, is going to tell you that in the river theres love, but in the river, yes theres love, because in the river lives the Our Lady of Charity, who is the queen of gods the reigning Saint of love8 (pers comm 2004). Oshun Javier is referring t o Oshun (Caridad del Cobre ), who is the patron saint of Cuba. She is the Yorb Goddess of love, beauty and sensual delights. She is the Aphrodite of the Yorb pantheon; she is the goddess of love, fertility, frivolity, and seduction. Her story (although not always her representation) is as a mulatta (brown woman of mixed African and European ancestry) dressed all in yellow, the color of gold, money, prosperity, sun, and happiness. Her symbols are mirrors, jewelry, honey, golden silks and feather fans. She also is equated to the sweet river waters. She is a mulata with a uniquely Cuban story in which she wanted to come to the Caribbean island of Cuba from Africa to help out her followers, the enslaved Africans who were forced to come. Oshun is the queen of rivers and the epitome of female beauty and sensuality. Her color is yellow. Figure 5 5 shows a representation of Oshun in Matanzas, Cuba with her bright, satin, yellow dress and headdress, and Figures and show two different altars for Oshun. Notice the yellow dress, the yellow flowers and the boat in the water. 8 Y nadie, y nadie que no cocozca la religion, que no conozca la lengua que no conozca los santos, te va a decir que en el rio hay amor, pero en el rio si hay amor, porque en el rio vive en el dia la Caridad del Cobre, es la reina de los dioses la santa r enia del amor (pers comm. 2004). Javier exclaims
188 Figure 5 5. Doll representing the orisha Oshun. Figure 5 6. Altars for Oshun Story of Oshun One of the few stories that is key to the Yorb derived religion in Cuba, yet does not appear on the African continent, is about Oshun: Canizares (1999: 65) tells a version that he
189 notes is similar to that which appears in Mercedes Cros Sandovals La reli gion afrocubana (Madrid: Playor 1975:1112): Oshn, goddess of love and of the rivers, watched sadly as great numbers of her children were forcibly taken away to a far away land called Cuba. Confused about the situation and her inability to stop strange w hite men from abducting her followers, Oshn went to see her older sister, Mother Yemay, to ask her advice. Wise sister, what is happening? Why cant I stop this tragedy from occurring? It had to happen this way, Oshn, answered Yemay sadly. Our chi ldren will tell the entire world of our wonders, and millions who have forgotten us will worship us again. Moved by an intense desire to be with her suffering children, Oshn decided on an impulse to move to Cuba. But she had never before left her kingdom the Oshn River, and was afraid. Tell me, Yemay, you whose seven seas caress all of the lands of the world, what is Cuba like? Thinking pensively for a moment, the stately queen answered, It is much like here: hot days, long nights, lush vegetation, tranquil rivers. Is there anything about Cuba and its people I should know before I move there? Yes, answered Yemay. Not everyone is black like us; there are also many whites. Impulsive as she is, Oshn asked Yemay to grant her two wishes: Make my hair straighter and my skin lighter so that all Cubans can see a bit of themselves in me. With a majestic sweep of her hand, Yemay granted her sisters wishes. That is why Oshn in Cuba has long, wavy hair and light skin; this is why all Cubans worshi p Cachita. (the pet name for Oshn), regardless of the color of their skin. Object 5 1. Oshuns story in spoken word by Camille Feanny (MP3, 2 MB) Oshun is the Yorb Goddess of love, beauty and sensual del ights, whose symbols are mirrors, jewelry, honey, golden silks and feather fans. She is the sweet river water Caridad del Cobre. Cobre means copper in Spanish. Ochun is identified with Our Lady of the Charity of Copper. She is the patron saint of Cuba, an d an orisha who is indispensable to most of the Yorb and Yorb diaspora.
190 Yemaya Yemaya is known as the Yorb goddess of the beach, profundity and motherhood. She is the mysterious sea, and is also known as La Virgen de la Regla She is the queen of the oceans. Figure 5 7. Yemaya statue located at the Museum of the Route of the Slaves, Matanzas, Cuba. She is the part of the ocean where the sunlight hits; she is the edge of the ocean that tumbles onto the shore. Figure 5 7 is a photograph of a statue representing her donned in her color of blue, in front of the oceans waves her element. In Cuba, terms like mystery, life, and respect are used frequently to define her.
191 Figure 5 8. Yemaya representation. Figure 5 9. Altar for Yemaya.
192 The Yorb orisha Yemaya is cognitively understood as overlapping with qualities like profundity, the beach, respect and mystery. She is connected to the mysteries of the ocean, although she is not Olokun, who is the owner of the depths of the sea s. Thus, the biophysical becomes integrated with the emotional and the spiritual. As these results indicate, the orishas embody material and spiritual conceptions of the world. Embodied Epistemology Translated into Evocative Ethnography Knowledge is passe d through the body from generation to generation via religions, rituals, oral histories and daily practices. As Heckenberger (2004) -in line with Bourdieu (1993 ) and other scholars --points out, cultural memory becomes collective memory through the b ody. Ways of knowing through invocations, praise poetry, music and dance are essential to nearly all Yorbritual in which spiritual forces are actualized evoking and thus invoking spirit into human form. The Yorb employ these embodied techniques to tran scend boundaries and open communication between spirit, material, temporal and spatial worlds (Daniel 2005; Harding 2000; Thompson Drewal 1998; Daniel 1998). This embodied knowledge is, as Daniel argues, rich and viable and should be referenced among other kinds of knowledge (2005:4). With music, rhythms, chants and dancing, people sometimes get embraced by the orishas. Orisha possession makes it possible for humans to have direct conversations with divine beings, receiving their council, advice, and knowledge. Dance, as Daniels has demonstrated, is another form of knowledge transmission: Yorb dance/music is recognizable because of its impressive visual symbols and its diverse array of divinities, who enter the bodies of worshipers and dance sweetl y or fiercely. The dance/music comprises a continuum of varied, codified movement sequences and identifying gestures that represent differing divine personalities. The divinities dance as chartering characters of very general terms and in comparison wit h the other three nations of African music/dance traditions of Cuba, Yorb movements are lyrical and often make the dancer seem to undulate vertically and repeatedly from the pelvic area up through the chest, shoulders, neck, and head. (Daniel 2005: 137)
193 Daniel posits that Cubans reveal the deity through arm gestures. For example, Oshuns dance includes splashing and spreading water or honey with her arms and hands (Daniel 2005: 77). And Yemayas dance of sacred choreography, Daniel contends, illustrate the ideas of community, the caring force, the essence of nurturing, the source of existence, the salt sea waters, the oceans. (Ibid: 266). Yemayas dance is performed in circles and spirals defining the circles of community In Object, 4-8, you see three men sitting down behind each of the three bat drums. They bring on the rhythms of Yemaya and her incarnatein human form replete with her signifying symbols of blue dress, headdress and stylized moves. Her charged body dances across the scene of the Yorb Association in Havana, Cuba. According to Daniel (2005), her codified gestures, movement sequences, motifs, and identifiable patterns are recognizable across the African diaspora. Required) Object 5-2. Video clip of Yemaya dancing at the Yorb Association (.mov, 3.5 MB Quicktime
194 In contrast, notice Oshuns dance. She is slow and sultry as she moves across the floor, slowly and subtly encompassing the sides of her yellow dress into her motion. Her movements are graceful as she dances soft, fluid even seductive motions of Oshuns dance. where many Lucumi are reported to have come. He is also the god of thunder, the drum and dance. He is a ladies man. One story tells of how he used to have the knowledge of the herbs and traded that ecological knowledge with Osain who knew the rhythms of the drums. Now, Osain has the plant knowledge, and Shango is king of the drum. In his dance, you will notice a definitive movement of the arm towards the ground. He is showing his power and force Object 5-3. Video clip of Oshun dancing at Yorb Association in Cuba (.mov, 4.7 MB Quicktime required) Chango is one of the most common orishas in Cuba. He is a deceased king of Oyo, from connected to his double-edged axeone of his key symbols.
195 As the above video clips illustrate, each orisha is associated with specific dance movements. Each also has her and his own chants and drum rhythms. Although the above dances were part of a performance, practitioners also dance out these deities and therein an embodiment of human emotions and biophysical characteristics. Nature, then, has subjective and divine voices and modes of being, which promote relationships based on intersubjective communication and thereby listening as well as requesting. For this reason, I label this section and research Who is Nature? so that the reader takes note of the subjective nature of the environment. Following this vein, I use the term intersubjective in much the same way as Morrison (1998) employs the concept. He uses it to express the way some indigenous peoples understand and interact with their environmentas multiple subjects or conscious beings sharing a worldall of whom deserve recognition and respect. These conceptions of the environment that emphasize respectful relations with subjective beings of agency may have a powerful influence on human relationships with the environment. Object 5-4. Videoclip of Chang dancing (.mov, 4.8 MB Quicktime Required)
196 While others pray to an invisible god hoping someday to see hi m, Canizares a university educated scholar in religion and a Cuban -born and raised practitioner of Santera draws the distinction that the Divine is manif ested in Santera as living, breathing beings one can touch, kiss, love ( 1993: 14). Orisha followers experience a sensorial and personal relationship with their God and gods that traverses the material and spiritual within embodied techniques of communica tion. Yet, not all orisha followers are equal, and not all people who use the Yorb religion for its healing are followers at all. Bodies of Humans and Roles within the Religion Different kinds of relationships transpire between different kinds of humans; not all humans are the same, nor are their roles within the religion. As I mentioned earlier, Lucum practitioners comprise a wide continuum of involvement with the religion in Cuba; in fact, some are not practitioners at all. Canizares depicts a h ierarchical model indicating the amount of involvement in Lucum depending on the integration into the embodied performance (initiation) the participant has undergone. He divides people into the three major groups of aleyo (noninitiate), santero (initiate/priest) and babalawo (high priest) (Canizares 1993: 51). He makes further distinctions within these categories by discerning nine specific steps or levels of involvement namely, those of interested observers, occasional clients, habitual clients, amulet rec ipients, Eleggua initiates, guerreros initiates, collares initiates, santeros and babalaos. The aleyo or noninitiate, then has access to healing and even teachings of the religion without the time, money, commitment and practice necessary to be fully init iated. To undergo full initiation requires a period of preparation traditionally about three years in Cuba. The ceremony, called asiento or hacer santo (making saint) involves the truly embodied performance of a kariocha (Lucum for to seat on the head ) initiation. During kariocha, ones ruling orisha is ritually embedded in ones head through a process that includes shaving the head and cutting a small
197 wound in the scalp where the secrets of the orisha and the ash become forever a part of the santero s being (Canizares 1993: 7). After the kariocha initiation, the neophyte wears white for one year and follows strict taboos on diet and practices. This novitiate year is called Iyab or Iyaw in Yorb, literally the wife. She or he is marrying into the re ligion9. In Cuba, those who rely on the healing relief of African derived religions may not be initiates at all. The following vignette indicates some of the complex multiplicities of Cuban bodies integrating forms of AfroCuban religions. These intersections of religions, government, natural science, and health must be properly understood to comprehend modern Cubans and Cuban life. A Story of Multiplicities Embodied In the outskirts of Havana, Cuba in November of 2006, four women and one young m an assembled in an apartment on the fourth story of a typically Russian -style concrete housing complex that the residents themselves helped build. The central woman, who can be called Soledad, for whom these neighbors and family members have gathered, is a self ascribed and self -defined communist and atheist. The reason for this gathering was that she was stuck in the depths of a deep depression. This woman, my friends mom, a communist, a soils scientist, and a Cuban revolutionary for whom the people in t he room had gathered, was suffering a pronounced depression. She could barely get out of bed to get dressed. Her face showed little emotion and her whole body moved slowly and with stiffness; her form appeared more robotic than human -almost like a slab o f clay that was on two short yet elongated motorized wheels. She began her day of shuffling and sitting around her apartment by making the exertion to get out of bed. She was on sick leave from work because of her depression; she was suffering. She had rec ently gone to a 9 Another example of parallel metaphors with the Roman Catholic religion in which the nuns marry the Church. They also wear white wedding dresses for the ceremony.
198 medical doctor and had been prescribed medication that she had recently begun to take. So far, it had not made any difference at all. Spinning Soledad around in three concentric circles, the woman who was presiding over the gathering, a ce remony, and had by that point been mounted (by spirit) was chanting over Soledad. Pronouncing Soledad, pronouncing her the daughter of Chang. Thus, red cloth she must wear, and a prescription she must enact to the letter for the next seven days including drinking this glass of water that would sit through the ceremony and through several other rites, and on the seventh day she must imbibe the liquid along with its spirit into her physical, biological, mental and metaphysical system. In addition to her red kerchief, she must wear white for the ceremony and for enacting the rituals, and after seven days of following these specific rites, she must finally drink the glass of water that shares the space with the spiritist ceremony in which we are participating. Object 5 5. Video clip of ritual washing of flower s (AVI, 22.4 MB)
199 She is ordered to collect several specific kinds of flowers and with these bathed in water (Figure 5.5), she must conduct certain rites of c leaning her apartment and thereby her spirit. These cleaning rituals were to incorporate seven coconuts, a broom and a special mixture of water ( osain/ omiero ) that she must prepare with specific herbs and flowers. As Voeks explains, the washing of the herbs in water helps to release the ash or power of the plants. A B Figure 5 10. Photos of water with flowers for healing and cleansing. A) Photo of flowers and leaves in bowl of water. B) Upclose of flowers and leaves. A B Figure 5 11. The coconuts, plants and broom to enact the cleansing A) The coconuts, plants and broom to enact the cleansing in corner B) Upclose of the coconuts and plants.
200 Figure 5 12. Required flowers used for cleansing and healing. Stomping on the cement floor (surely the neighbors below can hear the ruckus, and as they are not practitioners and normally neither is Soledad wont they think something is weird exclaims the distorted face of discomfort on Soledads face as she described in words after the ritual) but Soledad had given permission to the woman to conduct the ceremony to allow what came to be, and it would have to be ok. She cant stop it now, or quiet the process down. The smoke fills the crevices of the room, the chanting reverberates off of the concrete walls and floor, the liquid of aguardiente mixes with the saliva and is sprayed over the participants, the material items and the floor. Cleansing, the mounted one wets her hands and with them she pats her own hair, then pats the hair o f Soledad, spinning her gently but decisively in three circles speaking what was an unintelligible language to me then speaking specific prescriptions for Soledad to follow.
201 Soledad was told to repeat what the mounted one said and she did. But her face expressed disbelief with a slight smirk and glint to the eyes indicating an uneasy feeling of participating in something she neither understood nor really believed in (as she had explained to me before the ceremony). Yet, there she stood. She circled when gui ded to the full three times and repeated what she was told. When directly asked if she had faith because, she was told, if she didnt have faith this ceremony would not work for her she stated that she did believe, with a voice that was shy and small y et with a noted urgency since she needed something to take hold and lift this shadow from within her heart that was encompassing her life. She already had paid sick leave from work, and was taking pills from a biomedical doctor. Yet, she was still seeped i n depression. If this ceremony would do it, then she would believe.if she needed to believe first, then she was willing. Wasnt she? Would she follow through though, and follow the very specific instructions that were being given to her daily assignments for the next seven days? Religion, nature, science, culture. Science, religion, nature, culture. Nature, religion, science, culture. Culture, religion, nature, science. Where do they diverge, where do they converge? Misericordia Compassionate Mercy. Mi sericordia Compassionate Mercy, the mounted one called, and all in the room responded in unison, Misericordia. She in turn stomped on the floor with her foot and ninnyed as a horse does when she is mounted indeed this woman was no longer solely the sis ter of Soledads neighbor. She had been mounted by spirit her body was now a channel for the spirit. Her frame was embodying the ancestors, the orishas and wisdom incarnate. She was accessing her special skill the predisposition that she inherited from her mother, she explained later. This womans body was now a vessel to express information from the spirit world to pass on to those in the room. She circled each person around
202 three times, and then pronounced something that they must know about themselves and their future. First, she had Soledad circle around three times, and through the heavy smoke of the room pronounced her ritual assignment that would help make her well. After Soledad, she spun Soledads daughter (who was about to leave her mom, her home, and even her country for the first time to go meet up with her husband in Guatemala), then the mounted ones own sister (who was soon to go into surgery) was circled three times. Next, she spun her own daughter (a dancer and dance teacher in the east) and her own son (who seemed to be mixed between discomfort and belief) offering them the guidance of the spirits to lead their lives. Lastly, she spun me, pronouncing my needs and necessary practices including taking my necklace of seeds off of my wrist and pl acing it in the bowl of water and flowers to gain vital energy, and in the future only to wear it long around my neck and continue to wash it to cleanse and gain energetic force. This water was infused with specific plants and with the ceremony itself. Spe cially picked from bushes outside in el monte the flowers lay in the water as does my necklace of seeds purifying and embodying ash After each spin, she patted the bodies and hair of these family members, neighbors and friends with the energized water. Then, she blew smoke to encompass them (and all in the room) and spoke words of advice to help each improve her and his individual life. Like many Cubans, Soledad professes atheism as her faith or lack thereof. Yet, she too can be placed along a fluid continuum of nonbelievers, practitioners and priests in Afro Cuban religious practice Canizares (1999) depicts a useful heuristic tool to comprehend this continuum in Cuba specifically for Lucum the Afro -Cuban religion based on Yorbheritage. The hierarchical model indicates the amount of involvement depending on the integration into the embodied performance (initiation) the participant has undergone. He divides people into the three major grou ps of aleyo (noninitiate), santero (initiate/priest) and babalawo (high priest)
203 (Canizares 1999: 51); however, he further distinguishes among religious practitioners in view of eight specific categories: interested observers, occasional clients, habitual c lients, amulet recipients, Eleggua initiates, guerreros initiates, collares initiates, santeros and babalaos. Although Soledad was involved in a Spiritist ritual, and not one that was purely Lucum10, I suggest that this continuum remains useful to interpr et Cubans and their involvement with religion. Whether speaking of Lucum or Spiritism, Soledad would be a noninitiate and with this ceremony could be considered an occasional client. Occasional clients like Soledad are common in Cuba. I heard several s imilar stories throughout my visits to Cuba including a few days after the ceremony that I described above, when I was conversing with Soledads daughter and friends. A friend of Soledads daughter told me how she had gone to a babala w o as a last resort t o figure out what was wrong with her son, when he was a baby. So, even though she is not a practitioner, she invokes the faith when necessary. This is similar to what the South Carolina babalawo states as happens in Nigeria. Typically a health problem of oneself or a loved one sends people urgently seeking the curative influence of spiritual and material medicine. When in medical need, Cubans of either African or Spanish descent (like Soledad and her family, who are the latter) commonly employ West African derived practitioners as healers. As Chapter 2 discusses, this connection may relate back to the 1800s when West Africans were first coming over in great numbers, and their healing knowledge would often serve colonists, enslaved Africans and free people of color. 10 As I have previously noted, Cubas religious practitioners tend to integrate religious pluralism and and transcultural influences. Specifically, many santeros may also follow certain beliefs and practices of French Kardecian Spiritism along with those of Congolese Palo Monte and Spanish Ca tholicism. Many overlapping identies and religious constructions exist, including sharing many of the same deities (though with different names). Chango for instance is a principal orisha (or Lucum spirit) as well as one of the Seven Powers that Spiritists recognize as essential. In Catholic doctrine, this orisha is known as Saint Barbara.
204 Figure 5 13. Photo of a religious offering at a nonpractitioners home in Cuba. As the above vignette illustrates, participating in a religious event does not secure belief or faithfulness. Instead it illustrates an aspect of Cuban culture and identity that of complex interrelationships and plurality of practices. Catholicism, Santera, Spiritism and atheism can blend seamlessly with communist ideology and natural sciences neither blending nor erasing distinctiveness or a dedication to any individual positionality. This amalgam of traditions, beliefs and practices is not complex at all for many Cubans, for the use of variety and variation is common and historically integral to Cuban cosmology and daily living. The story of Soledad illustrates an integration of material, spiritual, syncretic, and seemingly opposing worlds into one life of a Cuban reality. Soledads friends sister becomes mounted embodying the spiritual into human physical form. Soledad is told that her spiritual guide is Chango a nd for that reason she must wear red. Though Chango is a deceased king of a Yorbempire, this ceremony is not a Lucum ceremony; it is a spiritist one. Soledad is an
205 atheist, yet she is ill and is seeking relief through means that are available. According to the riual overseers, she must use specific herbs and rituals with plants and water to help herself heal. Although an Osainista does not select her herbs, she herself selects and prepares them. The water embodies the spiritual vibrations, the ash And by embibing the waters content after several days, she gains the spiritual powers of the ceremony. When I asked Yemaya followers in Matanzas, Which do you go to more, the river, the ocean or the forest? All three, two sisters respond immediately. We use all three. We go there, to the river, [and] at the river we have to do a principal ceremony. At the ocean, we must do another type of ceremony; it is the principal source of our religion. And the bush, well, that is the secret of the religion. Conclusion T he fundamental elements of the Lucum religion are based on an embodied and sensorial understanding and on intersubjective communication with the world. Through this process of sensorial engagement with the world, the Lucum religion guides humans through learning about nature, humanity and God through a process of embodied epistemology. The body is the key tool for transmission. Lucum religion is an integral literally, an integrated part of the body through installing the orishas ash into the h ead of the initiate, drumming and dancing, to possession (allowing the orisha to enter the body). With the boundaries of spirit and physical world collapsed, santeros can use their physical bodies to communicate with spirit bodies like the orisha as well a s ancestors through divination. This chapter has explored some of the fundamental elements of the Lucum religion, and by so doing guides us to the idea of learning through embodied performance and communicating between material and spiritual worlds. The b ody is the key tool for transmission. But do all bodies learn the same, and understand the religion in the same way? Lucum is hierarchically
206 formed; t hus, there is a process of initiation that bring s people further into the ways of knowing, as discussed a bove. Also, though there are different roles and responsibilities offered distinctly to women and men, o ne of the primary ones is expressed in the role of Osainista, which the next chapter discusses. Most important for this research are the Osainistas s ince they are the ones most connected to collecting the plants from the forest. They are the ones who are trained and sometimes initiated into the secrets of communicating with the orishas and plant spirits to be able to access their powers. This next sect ion then delves into the question who is Nature? In providing an answer, I will expand the description of Osain and the role of Osainistas. Subsequently, some Osainistas will explain how their religion defines and influences their practices with the enviro nment. Lastly, we will wrap up with what this connection between the conceptualization of nature and environmental behaviors means within the larger theoretical and practical context of tropical conservation and development and African diaspora studies.
207 CHAPTER 6 WHO IS NATURE?: OSAIN AND COMMUNICATING ACROSS MATERIAL AND SPIRITUAL WORLDS Who is Nature? Osain. Fundamental to Yorb religion Osain (spelled Osanyin in Yorbland) is a n orisha who may be understood as the embodiment of nature and medicine including herbs, plants, trees, and the forest. Osain embodies many different aspects of the religion, particularly the embodiment of ash, orisha and nature. He is not only a deity, but it is also a ceremony that allows the powers to be extracted from the plants. Osain is also considered to be an omiero sacred water that holds the powers of the plants. Thus, I found out, I had to distinguis h between asking What is Osain? and Who is Osain? Without Osain, there can be no religion states Osvaldo. Everything is based on Osains powers. Reinforcing Osvaldos point, Javier asserts, Osain is the owner of the herbs. Without Osain we do not have the blessing/benediction that the herbs will be fomented/ made into natural medicine1. A prominent scholar of Lucum explained, Osain is to use the herbs for a ceremony; Osain is the owner of the woods, as a deity, but there is also a ceremony that is called Osain. Osain is a deity, is a supernatural entity and Osain is a ceremony the ceremony to be able to access the ash [power] of the plants in order to use them in the initiation ceremony and for other religious needs2. Osain is the deity of the herbs, the wilderness, the sacred forest. He 1 Osain es el dueno de las hierbas. Sin Osain, no tenemos la bendicin para que las hierbas sean, fomento, medicina natural Javier. 2 Osain para usar las hierbas para una ceremonia. Osain es el dueno del monte, como deidad, pero hay una ceremonia que se llama hacer Osain. Osain como deidad como deidad como entidad sobrenatural y osain como ceremonia en la cual se hace la ceremonia de coger el ash de las plantas para usarlas en la ceremonia de hacer de la iniciacin, en alguna cuestin religiosa.
208 resides in the woods, though each plant also has its own orisha to whom a practitioner must appeal in order to access the healing essence of that stalk or leafs potency. Figure 6 1. A portrayal of Osain. Osain is one of the most vital orishas for without him and his kingdom of the sacred forest and the herbs within, there would be no religious rituals: Without Osanyins knowledge the diviner can offer no balm for ailments diagnosed. No purported herbalist would dare set foot in sacred woods or traffic in blessed leaves without proof of membership in Osanyins exclusive cult suspended from his ceiling. There would be no ilkede presented to outsider -now -turneddevotee, no devotee -become -priest, no preparatio n of sacred omiero (water of propitiation), and no bathing of ritual emblems waiting to be charged with red life force, if there were no Osanyin. Osanyin is also referred to as Orisa funfun Orisa of whiteness. He is the hidden power, the power of the mind (Mason 1985: 45). The above quote explains how Osain is fundamental to the Lucum religion precisely because of the spiritual/material connection with medicinal herbs, the sacred forest, and the preparations of water.
209 Figure 6 2. Plants recently collect ed and being made into medicine. Figure 6 3. A close up of the plants being ground into medicine.
210 John Mason, a Babalawo and author on Orisha worship for the YorbTheological Archministry continues to explain Osanyins role : Osanyin is medicine. He is t hat aspect of God which governs the maintenance of health and the prevention and alleviation of disease both physical and spiritual. He is called, Agbe Nigi the one who lives in trees. As Ewe Gbogbo Kiki Ogun one who turns all leaves into medicine, Osa nyin is recognized as the master physician armed with the knowledge of how to release the medicinal power trapped in every leaf. Becoming either surgeons knife or wizards wand, each leaf is transformed by Osanyins touch. The forest, mother of clouds, gr andmother to rain, keeper of the earth, and protector or respirating life, is the kingdom of Osanyin. For it is here in the cool corridors of the great tropical rain forest that God performs a wonderful feat of alchemy transforming basic elements into elix irs both potent and terrible, and then secreting them in the bark, roots and leaves of this kingdoms many inhabitants (Mason 1985: 42). A Matanzas practitioner and Osainista asserts, Osain is the sacred wilderness; wherever you go there is Osain3. Wilde rness has a double connotation here. He is referring to the wilderness, far from urban development, as well as wilderness as potent herbs and weeds that can be collected from the roadside and gardens along the roadside. He continues to explain, Osain is a prophet a follower of Jesus Christ follower of the creation the sostenedor of the created. All of this he was given by Jesus Christ himself. This is nature, this is the owner of nature4. Osain distributes his powers to all of the orisha, because he c omes being [ el viene siendo ] a creator, from this, from him, from him you gather how you are going to be the power .5 3 Osain es el monte. donde quiera que tu vayas es Osain 4 Osain es un profeta seguidor de Jesucristo seguidor de la creacin el sostenedor de lo creado. Osain.. eso se le dio el propio Jesuscristo. Esa es la naturaleza, esa, es el amo de la naturaleza 5 Osain reparte sus poderes a todos los orishas, porque el viene siendo un creador, de ese, de el, de el se recoge como tu vas a ser el poder.
211 Figure 6 4. Opa Osain, symbol of healers and Osainistas. Osain is the orisha who is the owner of the woods (El monte ), wilderness, medicinal plants and everything that is nature. Osain is the sacred grove and the elements of nature. He is the owner of the plants to whom you must ask permission, and accept no as an answer. Osain is a person, a deity, a water infused with ash, and an action. Thereby, Osain is both a who and a what, and even a how. Nature is the reason for everythingthe wisdom of nature is one of the things most elaboratedthere is a ceremoywhen we make a ceremony of osain. Osain is an orisha, but it is also a ceremony6. Osain illustrates some of the fundamental points of my research. Patak and Osain As I mentioned in the last chapter on Yorb religion, the story (patak) is one of the major ways that the Yorb pass on informati on. The story integrates several 6 Natureleza es la razon de todola sabiduria de la natureleza es uno de los mas elaboradohay una ceremonia cuando hacemos una ceremonia de Osain..Osain es un orisha pero tambien es una ceremonia.
212 characters in different scenes in life, and thus no person(ality) is ever acting alone, but instead within the context of life i.e., a much larger web of altering situations of different temperaments and situations. In the previous story, then, the relationships of the other characters of Ogun, Inle and Elegua are all vital, as well as the final relationship with the rest of the orisha: Osain becomes humble and shares his information of the plants with all of the other orishas again note the power aspect of integrating interdependence and sharing. This interdependence factor of heightened power is vital for not only the orishas, but also for the plant medicine. Indeed, Verger notes that the plants themselves are not used indi vidually, but instead together they build a recipe of magic and medicine. Many stories exist that explain the beginnings and the life of Osain; some of them contradict each other; and some simply change certain elements maintaing the ultimate integrity of the story. Osain doesnt have father nor mother. He came out of the earth like a plant. Osain had a thing for Orula, though this one was not interested in him. Osain did ik [cast spells] on her and she didn't know how to protect herself from so many nightmares. Finally she decided to consult Chang to know who her enemy was. He told her to do a magical working [ritual] with ignited cotton matchsticks and twelve lightning rocks. Osain was in the woods looking for herbs to harm him when Orula was doing thi s ebb [magical working or spell]. As soon as Orula started to do her summonings and ignited the matchsticks a lightning bolt fell on the wood and Osain fell prisoner between two uegos [the name of a plant]. That is how he lost those two limbs and the eye he is missing. When Orula saw Osain all injured and stuck, she knew who was her enemy7 (Bolvar 1990: 159). Osain sprang up from the soil. He keeps to himself, and he is fond of Shango. His body is particularly noticeable, because it is malformed; he has o nly one foot, one eye and one arm 7 Osain la tena cogida con Orula, althoug h this one didnt metia con el Osain le haca ik y Orula no saba cmo protegerse contra tantos trastornos. Por fin se decidi a consultar con Chang para saber quin era su enemigo. Este le mand a hacer un trabajo con doce mechas de algodn encendidas y doce odduar (piedras de rayo). Osain estaba en e l monte buscando hierbas para perjudicarlo cuando Orula estaba haciendo este ebb. En cuanto Orula comenz a hacer las invocaciones y a encender las mechas, cay un rayo en el monte y Osain qued preso entre dos uegos. Fue as como perdi los miembros y el ojo que le falta. Cuando Orula vio a Osain todo maltrecho, supo quin era su enemigo.
213 (Figure 6 1 ). His ears are asymmetrical, one very big and deaf, the other tiny but so hypersensitive it can hear a leaf fall on the other side of the world. His oversized head is normally hidden behind a mask of straw. He is a master hunter like Ochosi. Many stories exist that help explain Osain, how he gained his vast and potent knowledge of the sacred herbs, and his relationships with the other orishas. Osain had a strong relationship with Ogun, Inle and Elegua who all l ive in the forest and hunt (thereby the bow and arrow as both tool and symbol). Olodumare (Olofi) was to decide who had the powers of all the plants, and h/she endowed Osain with the powers of the mountain all in his gourd. However, Osain became too powerful and full of himself --growing and growing until envy and jealousy surrounded him and he fell tumbling into humility. Thus, as the story goes, he survives and continues to live in the wilderness, but is now malformed. He has one tiny ear and one eno rmous one. Though with the enormous ear he is deaf, and with the tiny one he can hear a leaf drop on the other side of the world. He is left with only one leg with which to walk yet with only one leg, he can run better than most with two. This deformed specimen of a human maintains the wealth of plant knowledge necessary for all Santera practitioners. He was not always this way, according to some of the stories, he used to be a fine prince with the clothes of royalty and the bird on top of the head which signified royalty? but his ego matched his highness, and he did not want to share the riches of the natural world. He hoarded its wealth until his fall. Now, although he maintains the most knowledge of the plants, every orishas is assigned to certain pla nts. Although the goard and the ultimate distribution of the knowledge and powers of the plants is similar as is the image of the body of Osain his beginnings are very different. In Cuba, he comes from the earth itself without parents, while in Nigeria, he wears the signs of royalty, and so like Chang is recognized a fallen king. Either way, by creating situations in which human egos are played out within different worldly contexts, these stories help humans understand how material and spiritual worlds ar e integrated in life. These stories help us to understand nature including human nature. They help the listener and the diviner to see beyond just the initial sight and incorporate a multitude of senses, since the visual may often be deceiving. A prime exa mple of this is the description of the
214 ears though one is huge, it cannot actually perform its function. It is not the bigger the better. Instead, the tiny one that can barely be seen is the ear that outperforms and is able to do the humanly impossible a nd hear the wings of a butterfly flap on the other side of the world. This story not only illustrates how Osain became the owner of the monte endowed with the powers of the sacred forest of herbs but also demonstrates how the two major themes of relations hips and communication work within Yorbcosmology of nature. By creating situations in which human egos are played out within different worldly contexts, humans learn about different roles and relationships. Particularly important to note is the conception and thereby the manifestation of power Yorbcosmological systems are not built upon an ultimate good and evil. Instead, good, bad, and many other aspects of life are conceptualized within contexts of relationships. These relationships traverse material and spiritual planes through specific techniques of communication. These communication techniques are some of the knowledge skills that an initiate into Afro -Cuban religions learns. And the Osainista is the initiate who specializes in learning the specifi c knowledge to speak with the plants, and thereby is able to attain (and offer) the power of ash. In addition to the stages of initiation, specific roles and functions exist within the religion. The most important for this exploration of the relationship s between religious values/cosmology and environmental behaviors is the role of Osainista. He (and in Cuba this role is filled almost inevitably by a male with the caveat that women past the age of menstruation can also fulfill this role) is the person who searches for the herbs and knows all of the secrets of the plants. Unlike most of the other saints though, Osainistas do not hacer santo. In other words, they do not get Osain placed physically in their heads because according to a local scholar Osain i s too massive, Osain cant go to the head because he is too big; there isnt a head that can hold
215 the sacred grove in the head8. Instead, Osainistas receive Osain through a ceremony. Osainistas are those who search for the herbs and know all of the secr ets of the plants. Osainistas are not hecho santo in Osain. That which they have is knowledge (conocimiento). In Cuba, they dont initiate someone into Osain, there are not practitioners initiated under Osain, Osain, doesnt go to the head of anyone. Osa in, a person receives. Because there is a difference between saints that you seat ( se asientan) and saints that you receive. That which you seat is that which you initiate; it is the one that goes to the head and that which you receive is the one that does nt go to the head and it is delivered/given (A. ). And how is it delivered? Through a ceremony, there are ceremonies he affirms. The figure below shows a symbol of healers and osainistas, the Osain-related diviners staffyoull notice the bird on t op and the numerous birds appearing in flight. The African arts scholar Robert Farris Thompson proposes that these birds are highly significant. They symbolize not only an actual bird and the divinity that entails, but also the Great Mothers which appar ently in Nigeria point to sorcery. The birds are also associated with original creative spark placed in every persons mind by God (Thompson 1975:56). Figure 6 5. Photo of Yaws Osain staff 8 Osain no puede ir a cabeza porque es muy grande, el monte, no hay cabeza que aguante el monte en la cabeza.
216 The following object is a slideshow of an Osain staff made by Yaw, a Gainesville Yorb practitioner. After a series of photos of the staff itself, some photos appear of the iron instruments integral to ogun worship and the blacksmith trade iron -shaping tools. The slideshow ends with a photo of Yaw, the artist, the Ogun follower, and the Gainesville resident himself. The music that accompanies the slideshow comprises the drumbeats associated with Osain that come from the renowned Cuban artist Lazaro Ros; the song is called, Oro Seco The following videoclip is Yaw explaining the creation of the Osain staff as well as some of the symbolic significance. The relevance of this clip is to not only show the actual Osain staff and its import to the Yorb religion and to understanding Osain, but also to show how very simil ar ideascapes flow across waters, nation -states and other constructed boundaries. Despite fluctuations of nuanced and sometimes key differences of meaning, ritual or form, major similarities cohere a larger group of Yorb pracitioners through their religi ous views and practices and critical to this disseration how they conceive of and interact with nature. In his essay on Osanyin, Thompson continues to explain that the traditional ruler of Iperu Remo in the fall of 1962 explained that the single bird atop the staff signified the carrying of prayers from the king to God (1975:56). Furthermore, Thompson suggests that the birdmounted osun staff carries a secret connection with the head or mind of the initiate (1975:57). The bird signifies the head and intelligence while the 16 birds that surround it are symbolic of the powers of the mothers ( ibid ). For instance, the following videoclip il lustrates how Yaw understands local herbs in central Florida. He explains that local is better, and he regularly selects the barks of trees, along with the leaves of different plants to make his herbal concoctions. It is not only this herbalism to which I wish to call attention, but more importantly the relationship with the plants
217 that occurs through this kind of relating: an affective bond. Moverover, it is this emotional bond that Louv and Bruhner claim to be missing from not only natural science classrooms, but also from Western lifestyles. In describing initiation, To make osun is a private and extremely sacred matter. The priest shaves the entire head [of the adept], then proceeds to paint it white, indigo blue, red, and yellow When the initiator or initatrix has finished applying the colors [in concentric circles about the crown of the head] (s)he [cuts small incisions in the crown and inserts, within them, four important materials:] obi kola, eru, tushe, and osun. These guard destiny and the head. At first I understood this to be in Nigeria, since I had heard from practitioners and scholars alike that you could not initiate someone into Osain in Cuba; the knowledge of the forest was too big. Yet, Thompson states in the footnote appended to this quote, that this was a phrase of Yorb and Object 6-1. Videoclip of Yaw explaining the Osain staff (.mov, 435.2 MB Quicktime required)
218 Spanish that he took from the text by Teodoro Diaz Fabelo, Olorun (Havana: Ediciones del Departamento de Floklore del Teatro Nacional de Cuba, 1960) (cited in Thompson 1975: 67). You must understand very clearly what is Osain, Osvaldo laughs. He is a savior, he is a savior. That means that it is not a lie, if you wish to find, if you continue searching ... the plants themselves will teach you their own mystery. The plants themselves, nothing else, it is the plant itself. These are the mysteries that we respect. This small quote from Osvaldo highlights some of the most important aspects of Osain and Lucum perceptions of nature. Nature is personified as a savior, as a deity and as a person along with health/healing and sacredness incarnate. The spirit ual is embodied in the material; through the material, humans can access the powers of the spiritual. The plants not only symbolize these alchemies, but indeed embody them. So it is the plant as a subjective agent who teaches and guides the initiate on the journey of understanding how to access the plants power as medicine and as magic. Osvaldo acknowledges the mystery of this process, but does not conclude to disregard that which he cannot fully understand, but instead to respect it9. Osainistas In this section, my intention is to look at Yorb practitioners perceptions of nature (and what kind of relationships with the natural world those perceptions encourage and codify). The best way to accomplish this according to my research is through exploring Os ain and the followers of Osain called osainistas, who, as explained in the previous section, are the ones 9 Tiene que entender bien claro lo que es Osain, jejeje E l es un salvador, el es un salvador, entonces quiere decir que no es mentira, se desea encontrar, se seguira encontrando porque a medida que tu avanza con las plantaciones las mismas plantas te va ensenando su propio misterio. Las mismas plantas, no hay ma s nada, es la misma planta. Pero tu la ves aqu con una hojita asi, la misma planta, y cuando tu ubicas aqu tu vas a ver la misma planta, tu la ves con la hoja asi. Y dice, si es la misma planta como aqu se crecio mas las hojas y alli se quedo con la hoj a chica..E, esas son las cosas, que no son los misterios, esos son los misterios, que adonde nosotros respetamos.
219 initiated into the knowledge of plants. As Femi Osofisan suggests in her critique of Soyinkas emphasis of Ogun: We have had a history, a long history of violence, of Ogun figures, violent kings, violent rulers, conquerors, empire -builders and so on. And I think its time for us to turn away from these images to other images. Who were the healers, the doctors in anci ent times? ... Who were those herbalists, who discovered those herbs in the forest? (81 in Aiyejina ). I take on the call to emphasize the healers, the doctors, the herbalists and those who go to the forest and collect the herbs in Cuba, these persons are called Osainistas.The key Osainista with whom I worked, Osvaldo Cardenas Villamil, had lived for 70 years when I met him in July 2004. Figure 6 6. Osvaldo selecting and preparing herbs for a ritual.
220 Figure 6 7. Herbs being prepared by an Osainista. Figure 6 8. Up -close of herbs being ground by an Osainista.
221 Of the multitude of temple -houses that can be found throughout Matanzas, only three cabildos exist that date back to the 1800s; Osvaldo Villamil is head of Sta. Teresa, one of those three. Osvaldo is an older man who presently in his mid -seventies lives and works out of the back of his house. The front room, the receiving room offers two couches made of typical Cuban wooden latticework across wood frames, and a chair of the same. This room connects to the dining room with two huge archways. Both of these rooms ceilings are incredibly high showing off the typical Cuban architecture, though with prominent stains of weather and wear of time. The walls of these rooms are adorned with the paintings of s ignificant ancestors in their family like Osvaldos moms sister. Along a long corridor of bedrooms connected by curved archways, his room is the last alcove before the kitchen after passing his sisters and his mothers rooms respectively. His room is h is bedroom, his divination room, his altar as well as his place to prepare the plants and herbs for his godchildren. In his rocking chair by the window, he prepares the plants, sees visitors like me as well as welcomes family. This room also serves as his divination room with the corner filled as a big altar space to Osain full of plants, fresh and dried, an Elegua head and rum. It is here on a mat on the floor that he listens to the shells speak, meaning where he does his divinations with caracoles. Ea ch of the walls has different paintings -his father on one wall, on another an apparently random one of a young Asian the other wall has his bed. We go after a huge rainstorm, and hope that another one is not about to come. Together, we walk through pastures in front of peoples houses and in their agricultural lands. Along the roadside, horse drawn carriages, bicycles and small motorcycles go by while we follow Osvaldo around the area Osains homeland yet Osvaldos backyard not the middle of the woods of
222 faraway. Transportation is very hard, he comments, and a thunderstorm is approaching rapidly with even darker clouds traversing the already ominous sky. Yet still so full of useful plants connected to orishas and healing. Every corner field or street was full of an array of medicinal and ritual plants, and Osvaldo pointed many of them out to me stating their names, a couple of their possible purposes and the saint to whom they belong. The Lucum system creates relationships with qualities of the orish a for plants, illnesses and initiations, and puts them together for omiero or Osain. Figure 6 9. Osvaldo in front of his Osain shrine.
223 Ewe Ewe refers to the plants. Since the orisha live in the plants, the plants have spirit(s), and they are alive in mu ltiple ways. These plants can comprise a single tree or a thick rainforest. They can be found along the roadside or in the depth of the wilderness. They are said to have more power when they are wild most Osainistas refute the possibility of cultivating th e herbs; since they must be wild to have the power the ash Music Osvaldo explained to me that the healing practices of the Osainistas are founded upon and manifested in the chanting that the Osainista must do to enter into doing the Osain oration He clarifies that in order to learn the mystery of Osain, you have to learn the chants: This comes through the metafonico of conversations of prayers of Osain that they know at what time they can go and collect the plants that you will need and what you have to say to this plant so that it will give you the authorization for you to be able to collect from her, what she will give you. You see, this is something material10 (pers comm. 2004). In future conversations, he sang some of the chants for several of the orishas to me that I recorded with the video camera. Osainista in Cuba and Gender In Africa, there were no Osainistas, the concept of an Osainista is a Cuban concept, explains one Havana scholar and practitioner of Yorb. This concept came about because of the first free peopleThey had the liberty to go around, they were le arning everything to be able to provide to their, I take advantage of the pause and interrupt to ask if women as well as men were also osainistas. He replies, the osainistas were generally men. He explains that this is not due to gender discrimination, but instead to practicality. More African men were enslaved than 10 Eso viene a traves de metafonico de conversaciones de resos de Osain saben en que tiempo puede ir y recoger la planta que tu necesesitas qu e le tienes que decir a esa planta para que te de la autorizacion para tu poder recojer de ella lo que ella te de. Vaya. Y eso es una material.
224 women. In other words, the plantations were more interested in the strength of workers than the conditions of fertility.11 Logically, then, he further elaborated, more men were at first freed, allowing them to not only to achieve their liberty, but also to attain a certain ranking within the class -differentiated population of freedmen along with the possiblity of holding a pos ition like that of osainista. He was careful to dispel the commonly thought notion that even though it is taboo in Cuba, women too could be osainistas, since there is nothing that inhibits it. If you review all of the archeological literature that exist s, there is no, really no not even a dogma, even a teological one, but there is no dogma that says that it is prohibited. I think that it is in this sense that you women have lost spaces. You have given up your spaces.12 He reminds me of this aspect of a t alk he had given at a recent conference where I had just seen him, in which he demanded proof beyond taboo that women could not enact these social roles that were seemingly out of their position. 11 The historical literature, however, shows that enslaved women in the Caribbean, at least some parts, were pred ominantly field workers, and less likely to be assigned to more skilled work roles, proportionately, than their male counterparts. Hard work and reproduction were not mutually exclusive at all. And in the harshest conditions of exploitation, fertility was adversely affected. 12 En frica no habia osanistas, el concepto de osainista es un concepto cubano. Que surge porque determinadas personas, los libertos, los primeros libertos A; Tenian la libertad para irse a N: Tenian la libertad para irse, estuviero n aprendiendo todo eso para poderselo suministrar a sus A: Tan mujeres como hombres o N: no, los osainistas generalmente fueron hombres. Claro eso tambien no es por un problema de discriminacin de genero, sino es un problema de que evidentemente la trata negra la de la esclavitud, eran mas hombres que mujeres. O sea interesaba mas la fuerza de trabajo, que la condicion de fecundidad, en un principio. Por eso fueron primero hombres, los que lograron en cierto numero importante su libertad antes que las m ujeres. A: Umhu N: Eso determino lgicamente si se quiere, una division e socioclasista de las libertades y consecuentemente de las posibilidades, de un oficcio como el de ser osainista. A: Pero ahora las mujeres pueden ser osainista o no? N: La mujeres podian ser ser, porque no hay nada que lo inhiba A; Pero he escuchado que no puede ser N Yo, e, un poco lo que dije, en mi conferencia que tu fuiste, cual es el tabu? Porque si tu revisas toda la literatura que existe arqueologica, no hay un, no hay, no hay realmente ni siquiera un dogma, aunque sea teologico no? pero no hay un dorgma que diga esta prohibido, pro eso, por eso, por esto, por esto, por esto, no lo hay, realmente no lo hay. Yo pienso en ese sentido que ustedes las mujeres han perdido espac ios. Han cedido espacios, jejeje (p12)
225 The further along in the Yorb initiation hierarchy, meani ng the further involved a person becomes a dedicated practitioner, Canizares posits, the more ones perspective changes, specifically from a Eurocentric to an African worldview ( 1993: 28). As I have explained, in contemporary Cuba, Santera is no longer r eserved for those people with direct blood lineage to Africa. In fact, although many of the interlocoteurs could name their lineage back to Africa, several of the practitioners with whom I interacted did not have this heritage. Instead, they cited their gr andparents from Spain and the Canary Islands; the latter Yorb practitioners were not phenotypically black. And Osainistas are initiated priests and sometimes high priests of the religion. Thus, as one complete s the stages of succession, that person acces ses communication and communion with the other planes of reality. And, it is through the embodied performances that bring these worlds into communication, so the spirit worlds become manifested and integrated into physical bodies through divination, drummi ng and dancing/ possession. The Osainistas particularly then report how they hold respectful relationships with the plant world based on their religion and interpretations of power. Relationships of Power Power is neither top down, nor bottom up, nor even horizontal; the power that ash refers to is not exclusive to the social dynamics of a human world. Instead, plants actively possess this power and humans must learn how to interact with the plants in order to gain access. In order to have access to Osai ns powers, you must learn the mysteries of Osain, Osvaldo explained to me when we met in July of 2004. This phrase, like many was poetic and profound as it illustrates an intricately intertwined and interdependent relationship that practitioners of Lucu m have with nature. He then added, Santoral es basicamente la naturaleza, the religion is basically nature -
226 practitioners access the powers of the religion through nature, and the practitioners access the power of nature through the religion. This aspect of how the conceptions formed through religious belief inform environmental practices is the premise of this research For, as this osainista and religious priest stressed immediately, this relationship is different than the nonreligious Cubans using herbs to heal as a tea. Instead Osvaldo clarifies, we extract powers that the plants possess. The nuances of these notions of power are vital to understand the relationships between the religion, the practitioners and nature, particularly the pow er of intersubjective communication Relationships have become more prominent in ecological studies, though ecology itself highlights the relationship factor as well as the interdependent nature of a variety of organisms within their environment. Yet, here lies a major difference between established (Western) ecological studies and Yorb ecological cosmology and practice: the element of power. Ash is Power In the last section we defined the concept of ash in terms of the Lucum religion, now we will u npack some of the nuances that the idea of ash holds for how practitioners understand nature and their environment. The primary concept I wish to bring to your attention is that of power. Ash is power. It offers spiritual power to act in the material wor ld. It endows the material world with spiritual power. In a plant, ash is potency and agency. It is the potency that humans need and attempt to access, also the agency to deny humans access. A person has ash blessedness a power to communicate with the divine, to access the potency of the plants, and to alter reality, health and the future to bring the spiritual into an improved material life. To reiterate, power is conceptualized not just as top down, or horizontal, or bottom up. Not only do humans po ssess power to extract resources, but also the plants possess power to deny humans the ability to see the appropriate plants or obtain the inherent potency of the plants.
227 This aspect of power is related to the Yorbecological knowledge that teaches how hu mans (particularly osainistas) must communicate with the plants, because each plant has a spirit. This spirit is called an orisha. Orishas are Subjective Agents Humans are not the only subjective agents within an environment otherwise considered as an obj ect without agency, or for the more forward thinking, at least animals within their environment. So we need to highlight the conceptual elements of s ubjectivity and intersubjective communication when attempting to understand the plant world within Yorb c osmology. Since the plant world is not subjugated to merely exist on the physical realm, practitioners recognize the spirit and spirituality inherent in the plants. Thus, as they acknowledge deities that govern and live within the distinct elements pract itioners are trained to interact and communicate with these spirited bodies/embodied spirits. The form they use is embodied and sensorial as we have already discussed. In this chapter, though, what we will focus on is the intersubjective element of the com munication and the relationships of power that this conceptualization encourages and produces. For instance, when Osvaldo explains, you need to ask the plant for authorization so that you can go and collect from her what she will give you. And this is ma terial13, he is expressing the ability to access the spiritual through the material as well as the common sentiment among the Osainistas with whom I talked, that the plant not only has subjectivity but more importantly holds power in the relationship The plants have the power to offer the authorization, or not. He goes on to emphasize, So, you cant just arrive and take whatever youd like that is not yours, you have to ask permission from the ownerShe will give it to you, 13 O: Tiene que aprender el misterio de Osain. Eso viene a traves de metafonico de conversaciones de resos de Osain saben en que tiempo puede ir y recoger la planta que tu necesesitas que le tienes que decir a esa pla nta para que te de la autorizacion para tu poder recojer de ella lo que ella te de Vaya Y eso es una material.
228 gift it to you, lend it to you, rent it to you, or sell it to you, but you have to, you have to ask permission from the owner, who is the custodian. Do you understand? This is the jealous part that you have to collect the powers14. Otherwise, you wont find it even if you know whe re it is affirms another Osainista within a different conversation(Joel). Understanding the plant world as persons is not unique to the Yorb. As Morrison notes (1998:31): the concept of other than -human person seems closely associated with Native American power concepts [Fogelson and Adams 1977]. Hallowell outlines aspects of Ojibwa thought that defy both impersonal and objective social scientific methodologies. As one wou ld expect in a cosmos constituted by persons, the Ojibwa think precisely in relational, rather than objective terms [Detwiler 1992; Morrison 1992b; Pflug 1992; 1998]. Let me reiterate this critical concept, when a cosmos is conceptualized as persons or a s intersubjective beings and in the case of Yorb practitioners in Cuba, the orisha are understood with familial bonds as are the practitioners themselves, then relationships themselves become more important than objectification. Such a philosophical sy stem, Morrison continues to explain using the Ojibwa as a referent, requires a shift from impersonal to personal and interpersonal modes of causality (1998:31). In other words, the type of relationship is shifted from one of a subject taking an object, to that of subjects with different kinds of agency involved in distinct interpersonal relationships that can create and cause different outcomes. These kinds of relationships then are founded upon not only the desire of the humans but also on that of the p lants and the spirits. Consequently, humans must not only act, but also communicate and listen to the plants and the spirits. This aspect of communicating between material and spiritual worlds is emblematic of Yorbecological knowledge. 14 Entonces no puede tu llegar y usurpar ninguna materia que no sea tuya si tu no le pides permiso al dueno.te lo da, te lo regala, o te lo pr esta o te lo alquila, o te lo vende, pero tiene, tienes que pedirle permiso al dueno, de, que es el custodio. Tu me estas entendiendo. Que es la parte celosa que tiene recoger los poderes.
229 Communicating B etween Material and Spiritual: Humans, Plants and Spirits Yorb ecological knowledge emphasizes the communicative factor between not only deities in their world and organisms in this world, but also and most importantly for this study, the communication b etween material and spiritual worlds. The worlds of spirit and material, of past and future, of humans and plants are integrated and traversed with appropriate communication techniques. In the previous section, I discuss divination, dance and drumming as specific embodied techniques to achieve this communication. Now, I focus instead on how the ability to communicate between worlds holds implications not only for conceptualizing ecology but also for guiding environmental behaviors, specifically in that thi s focus on intersubjective communication manifests respectful relationships and therein behaviors, according to the osainistas. Respect is a component that is reiterated consistently when speaking about how humans relate to materiality and spirituality. O svaldo explains, By its very nature Por necesidad de construccin, when we are in the material, we respect the spiritual. When we navigate the spiritual, we respect it. There is a pattern patron that says material. There is another pattern that says s pirit (pers comm 200415). Since materiality is infused with spiritual being as spiritual beings are manifest in material things respect is a necessary element of the human relationship with the material (and the spiritual). He goes on to elucidate that [although] there are many religions, we navigate the saintly religion. And we see nature as something that we always respect, something scientific -spiritual (pers comm. 2004). Osvaldo, in his explanations of the role of nature in the religion, consistent ly brings up the terms, materiality and spirituality, not as completely separate and distinct elements, but as 15 Cuando estamos en lo material, la respetemos la espiritualidad. Cuando navegamos la espiritualidad la respetamos. Hay un patron que dice material. Hay otro patron que dice espiritu.
230 interrelated aspects of one. The material is not completely separate from the spiritual, and the relationship of respect that humans share is one based on a complementary scientific -spiritual collaboration. Since humans are not the only subjective agents within an environment for the Yorb Yorbcosmology emphasizes the communicative factor between not only deities in the spirit world and orga nisms in this material world, but also and most importantly for the communication between these worlds. The worlds of spirit and material, of past and future are allowed to communicate through words, rhythms and movement. With appropriate communication practitioners can communicate between worlds, and vital to communication skills, learn to listen. Listening. One of the most important aspects of communicating with the plants, and a fundamental element to this collaborative relationship deals with listen ing. Communicating with the spirits of the plants does not appear to be equivalent to how some people envision talking to God in the form of prayers (i.e., asking for and requesting that personal needs be met). Instead (though also in addition to), commu nication takes the form of listening to the spirits of the plants: Osain speaks according to tradition, Osain speaks (Andres). Listening to nature is a vital principle inherent in intersubjective communication For example, Javier, a 32 year old male Ye maya follower who goes to the forest daily to request and collect herbs for healings and rituals in the temple of Xiomara (dedicated to Oshun) commented thatreligious practitioners respect, care for/take care of cuida, and listen to the plants! I know how to communicate with the plants (pers comm. 2004). Yet, heightening ones perceptions to environmental clues is not the only way that practitioners listen. Additionally, you must ask permission from the owner of the plant, to the
231 spiritual owner. As one osainista explains, So, you cannot arrive and take a ny material that is not yours if you do not ask permission from the owner Entonces no puede tu llegar y usurpar ninguna materia que no sea tuya si tu no le pides permiso al dueno Hence, intersubjective communication implies the need to ask permission in an appropriate way, and listen to the response. The knowledge of how to interact, then, is through learning specific Yorb ecological knowledge. Reported Respectful Environmental Behaviors Es muy presumido el que se crea sabio mas que la natureleza ---Jo se Marti The primary concepts that are vital to understanding Yorb religion that we have discussed in the last chapters of this section are A ., ash B., orishas and how a focus on C., communicating between material and spiritual worlds influ ences respectful relationships. Specifically, osainistas report that their relationship with the environment is one based on respect. This chapter builds on these concepts to call attention specifically to how Yorb ecological knowledge in Cuba informs environmental practices, particularly among osainistas. Thus, this chapter explains how Yorbreligion in Cuba, which understands nature as an intersubjective family with individual agency, has interfused and influenced osainista reported environmental beh aviors. Respect is one of the most frequently reported concepts when discussing Yorb environmental practices, and it is also a major difference between (western) ecological studies and Yorb cosmology and practice, thus the major focus of this section: the concept of respecting natural entities. How does Yorb ecological knowledge influence environmental behaviors? Through understanding the physical world as spiritual, Osvaldo suggests that Osainistas have less harmful practices. Specifically, he det ails how environmental behaviors like herb collection are
232 respectful. The exact ways that he details are echoed by all of the Osainistas with whom I spoke, based, they say, on a pattern of respecting life As one renowned Osainista reports: We dont damag e/hurt/tamper with the forest. For example, if right now we go to the forest and we need to collect a plant, we always respect this plants roots. Already, this is a form of helping the forest. You take the branches that you need but you respect the roots. If you pull out the roots, you are killing it. She could have reproduced but you are radically killing her. Because you didnt leave any part of her so that she can survive. This is to say that, she will reproduce, do you understand, the birds on one side the owners of the forest who are the animals, also make their trails humans make one and the animals make another. Now, the careful person knows that a little plant that is sprouting, you dont step onIn this aspect, we respect. Because we do not need to practice this, what we do comes from learned knowledge. And the herbs for the orisha, we dont use absolutely anything like a herbal tea, nor anything like that. It is natural, natural nature of the herb itself. But, thats where you have to be an Osai nista, so that you know what you are asking from these plants, these plants can offer you16. Learned knowledge is key to understanding Yorb ecological knowledge, and Osainistas are particularly privy to this special knowledge due to initiation and through daily practice. For instance, when I asked how often one Osainista goes to the forest to collect herbs, he responded, Well, I go almost every day to the forest, but it depends on what I need to get17. Going daily to the forest and getting only what one needs for that day is a form of respectful practice. This Osainista emphasized this aspect of only getting what he needs when he needs it (and no more) by stressing immediately you cant bring the forest here, no, you cant do that, that is a lack of 16 NO bien, no hay mucho estropeo. El monte nosotros no lo estropeamos, o sea, porque si ahora vamos al monte y tenemos la necesidad de coger una planta, y siempre le respetamos a esa planta sus raizes, ya esa es una forma de ayudar al monte. Tu coges los gajos que tu necesitas pero le respetas la raiz. Si tu la arrancas de raiz, ya tu la estas eliminando. Ella puede reproducirse pero tu l a estas matando radical. Porque no le dejaste ninguna herencia para que ella pueda sobrevivir. Eso quiere decir que, ella se reproduce, tu me estas entendiendo, los pajaros por un lado, los duenos del monte que son los animales, tambien hacen su, su trillo, tu me estas entendiendo. Os. El hombre hace uno y los animales hacen otros. Ahora el hombre cuidadoso sabe que hay una plantita que viene retoando no la pisa, pero e anima si, porque el anima depende de, de la botanica. El se come la hierba, el depende de la hierba, hay lugares, hay valles ????? 549 ? Comiendose la hierba, nosotros comemos hierba tambien pero la hierba que nosostros comemos es elaborada, tu me estas entendiendo. A no ser una hierba que sea para uno, un curantismo de un cocimiento. Nos otros en ese aspecto respetamos. Por que nosotros no tenemos necesidad de practicar eso, lo de nosotros es toda la sabidura. Y la hierba para el orisha, que no se utiliza nada de candela ni de cocimiento ni nada. Es natural, la naturaleza natural de la h ierba. A pero, tiene su ?? 563 ?? Porque ah hay que ser Osainista, para que lo que tu le estas pidiendo a esa plantas, esas plantas te puedan ofrecer 17 Bueno yo, yo casi todos los dias estoy en el monte, pero depende lo que uno va a buscar
233 respect18. He continued to express, Thats the forestyou go and collect from the forest what you need. But you must leave the forest there. Then, he went into more detail and said, You never bring the forest here, because if you bring the forest here then you are creating damage/harm19. I then asked him if he cultivates plants (here in the states there are many home gardens of medicinal plants). He exclaims, Nooooo oo, I dedicate myself to nothing else but to collect them. He smiles and continues, And to collect them ( contadas )[exactly the number of what I need], when I need them, and no more20. As a plant, she/it is a material that we consume, but no one cultivates, she is born in the wild. Are you understanding me? He differentiates between th e power of a plant that is born in the wild, and that which one might cultivate. Although wild can be used in different ways since many of the herbs that osainistas use are common weeds that grow along an overgrown yard or near a sidewalk. Nonetheless the conception of el monte as the sacred groves are implicitly wild. When I asked Javier how his religious practices are affecting the forest, he responded that they dont affect it. Because we cut the branches, we do not cut the trunks, do you understand, t hey are the branches. The people who make charcoal and these sorts of things, they cut the mata and they destroy it, no, we do not cut the trunks. Many of the santeros and Osainistas were adamant about the value and power of wild plants over domestic one s, and many commented on the contemporary alterations of the forested landscape. In addition, Osainistas in Matanzas, as opposed to Havana where herbalism is a burgeoning business, appear to be the only ones sanctioned and the only ones who actually go to 18 No se puede traer el monte pa aca, no eso no, eso es una falta de respeto. 19 Nunca traes el monte pa aca, porque si tu traes el monte pa aca entonces tu estas haciendo dao. 20 Nononooo, yo me dedico nada mas que a recogerlas, jejeje. Y a recogerlas contadas, cuand o, las que necesito no mas. Que va, si asi mismo en todo no me da chance, dime tu si me pongo a cultivar.
234 pick the herbs for healing and initiation rituals. While women and men have different roles and responsibilities fundamental to Lucum, seeming contradictions appear among practitioners, scholars and texts. Lastly, the scientific community in Matanzas see ms to be disconnected from the values and motivations of environmental behaviors with the Yorb community. Although both groups are stakeholders in local land and water resources, and despite scientific and governmental organizations attempt at collabora tive management efforts, a cultural divide of understanding seems to create an impasse. Some of the scientist with whom I spoke referred to Afro Cuban religions as getting in the way of conservation efforts because of a lack of natural science understandin g of the ecosystems. Additionally, some of the scientific and government literature explains that the lack of an environmental ethic is one of the primary causes of ecological degradation without recognizing the distinctions between residents, including the specific roles and knowledge that certain religious practitioners hold and convey to their extended religious families. In chapter 9, I will continue this discussion by proposing ways to help create conversations between distinct yet overlapping epistemo logies. In conclusion, this chapter is an analysis of a cosmology that emphasizes communicating between spiritual and material worlds through exploring the implications among ecological conceptions and behaviors The element of communication is critical, and it is founded upon listening as well as asserting since the plants and the spirits are understood within an intersubjective conversation. Thus, two of the primary elements of communication that this chapter e xamines are subjectivity and power for they are two of the key elements that help shape practitioners relationships with their environment. Specifically they are the primary elements that help shape practitioners particularly Osainistas reportedly res pectful relationships with their environment.
235 CHAPTER 7 A DOCUMENTARY. OSAIN IN TRANSLATION: YORB DIASPORA RELIGION AND ECOLOGY Videography offers another path to understanding, representing and experiencing world religions, ecological knowledges and local peoples perceptions. In so doing, researchers are not only attempting to experience the world, they are offering the possibility of an alternative epistemological space through video production and viewing to experience other worlds. The result is hopefully an alternative way of knowingnot only accessing knowledge through categorizing, naming and sometimes othering, but also through feeling, sensing and evoking. In Chapter 7, I offer an example of a video that embodies these themes through haptic imagery. This chapter consists of a link to the ethnographic documentary that I created to translate Yorbdiaspora religion and ecology through illustration and evocation. The subsequent chapter (Chapter 8) comprises a written discussion. Object 7-1. Osain in Translation: Yorb Diaspora Religion and Ecology Documentary (.mov, 387.4 MB Quicktime required)
236 CHAPTER 8 OSAIN IN TRANSLATION : A DISCUSSION OF VIDEOGRAPHIC TECHNIQUES IN EVOKING YORB RELIGION AND ECOLOGY With a black screen and a strong drumbeat, Osain in Translation begins. Lazaro Ros, the renowned santero and Afro Cuban singer, invokes Osain, the deity of nature through his encantations and salutations Ash ogbo orisha, ash elegua, ash ogun, ash ochosi, ash obatla, baba. In a specified order, with specific intentions, he salutes the ancestors, as is required by respect and ritual protocol. Then, he salutes Elegua, the one according to Pataki (stories) that must always be saluted next as the ruler of the crossroads, then Ogun the deity associated with metallurgy especially important in Yorb culture. Next, with ash Ochosi he salutes and invokes the male hunter who lives in the woods, then ash Obatala1 he recognizes the hermaphrodite deity of white, of peace, and of honor. Lastly, he offers a salutation to baba, the father. The rhythms of the bat drums accompany his encantation. Later in the video the bat drums are visually seen in a black and white photo, as photographed inside Havanas Casa de Africa museum from a historically significant book by Cuban scholar Fernando Ortiz (1:10:23). The static drums of scholarly study come alive into ac tion a few moments later (1:11) as filmed in the Yorb Association in Havana, Cuba. Three men sitting down behind each of the three bat drums, bring on the rhythms of Yemaya and her incarnate in human form replete with her signifying symbols of blue dres s, headdress and dance style moves; her charged body dancing across the scene. With music, rhythms, chants and dancing, people sometimes get embraced by the orisha. Orisha possession makes it possible for humans to have direct conversations with divine beings, receiving their council, advice, and knowledge. Dance is another form of knowledge 1 Obatala is the patron of Oyotunji village.
237 transmission. Memory is embodied through experiential and kinesthetic knowledge, particularly through dance for the Yorb diaspora (Daniel 2005, 1998; ThomsonDrewa l 1998). If the songs are precise, they may achieve the desired effect, neither missing a beat nor mispronouncing a word, and the orisha descend from heavenly abode and temporarily possess their devotees, initiating a mystic state of communion between the orishas and the participants (Canizares 2000). African music is that aspect of life which provides the repositories of traditional beliefs, ideas, wisdom, and feelings, explains the African theologian John Mbiti (1999: 67). Hence santeros consider properly consecrated bat drums to be living, powerful entities, the materialization of the great spirit A. Do you also use sounds and rhythms to understand the plants? I asked Joel, a Matanzas santero and Os ainista within the video. Yes, of course! he replied. The communication between the natural and human world is founded upon the embodied rhythms of drums and the sounds of salutations. As Taiwo (2000:184) points out, When we as a Yorb people have embodied the [drums] return beat at an early age a whole virtual terrain opens upit becomes embodied knowledge.[that helps]realize those important connections vital for decoding non-verbal signifiers in the process of communication. Knowledge is passed th rough the body. From generation to generation via religions, rituals, oral histories and daily practices, as Heckenberger (2004) in line with Bourdieu (1993 ) and other scholars point out cultural memory thus becomes collective memory through the bod y. The video Osain in Translation alludes to this learning, and attempts to integrate the viewer into experiencing this type of embodied way of learning, in this case, learning about nature through dance, rhythm, chants, books, practitioners, and Osainist as. Since audio-visual technology can show motion, show the relationships between rhythm, movement, and knowing the divine, it may be one of the best methodological tools for representing, accessing and
238 evoking African-based religious belief systems. Thus the video serves doubly as a means to represent embodied learning, and an attempt to integrate the viewer into embodied learning, acknowledging the continuous act of translation in the transmission of ideas, bringing us back to the issue of how do we know, and how do we pass on (transmit) these ways of knowing and knowledge systems. As the Cuban filmmaker Gloria Rolando expresses, We have a worldview in which our dialogue with nature is extraordinary because everything has life and is a carrier of ene rgyThe world of images cinema and video is extremely attractive when the resources exist to create good productions. It speaks a powerful and direct language that develops our imagination (2001:349). Much like her film Oggn, my film does not set out to delineate a religion or illustrate particular rituals, for these specificities the unititiated should not know. To illustrate this aspect of the religion, I show the sequence of me asking an Osainista at the beginning of the video How he uses rhythms and chants to communicate with the orishas and nature, he responds, Ahhh, these are things that I cannot tell you. He cannot talk about many specifics in the Yorbreligion because the detailed knowledge is intended only for initiates to experience. Most v iewers will not pick up on a lot of the information presented, unless they have had previous experience with Yorbreligion; and that is accepted. Instead, the images are meant to help the viewer discover and experience a way of being (Rolando 2001:348). For instance, although drumming weaves its way throughout the video, with the majority of the soundtrack involving rhythms vital to Yorbculture and transmission of knowing nature, people who are not familiar with Cuban or Yorbculture will not recogni ze their significance. The video interweaves scenes of kids in Oyotunji village drumming with two babalawos on
239 chekeres2, along with soundtracks of the renowned Lazaro Ros, the Orishas and Los Munequitos de Matanzas. Again, people familiar with Cuban music will recognize these groups, and those familiar with Yorb religion will recognize the specific chants, salutations, invocations and rhythms; those details only enhance but are not vital to understand the project of embodied epistemology of nature, whic h is the focus of both this paper and the video. For viewers, this lack of naming and classifying information to which they are being exposed may make some uncomfortable, if not even anxious. However, that is okay! This may even be the point, insofar as t hat feeling of discomfort engages the viewer into an active participation of getting to know rather than a passive recipient of accepting reductionist and commodified pieces of knowledge. The lack of explanation may prompt different reflections and circu its of recollection (or lack thereof) among the people in the audience. For instance, depending upon previous exposure to the elements of the orishas, one may notice the royal palm tree and associate the deity of war and drums Chango (also spelled Shango a nd Xango). Chango, the fourth king of Oyo in Yorbland, was deified into a very important Orisha after his death. He is owner of the Bat (3 double headed drums) and of music in general, as well as the art of dance. Chango, is known as a warrior, as the m aster of drums and as a seductor. He rules the color red and white; his sacred number is 6; and his symbol is the oshe (double headed axe, which you saw him dancing with in the video clip in the chapter on Lucum religion), which represents swift and balan ced justice. In Cuba, he is also symbolized by the royal palm tree, where he is reported to reside. A prominent photograph of a royal palm tree is held on the screen for several seconds in his recognition. There is also a scene with a ceiba (1:04) to hon or the significance of this massive beautiful tree that for the Cubans seemed so similar to the revered 2 Chekeres are gourds with beads laced around them used to make music.
240 Baobaob tree in Africa. Few of the historical connections are explained, but their presence is irrefutable. The blanks of information that I allow (be cause I am focusing on a process of knowing) will be filled differently depending on the experience and thereby relevance of each viewer, whether he believes, she doubts, or they have never heard of the Yorb. Many details in the video Osain in Translation are not explicitly analyzed in the video. Instead, they are visually available to those who are familiar. In a similar vein as the Hopi filmmaker Victor Masayesva Jr. Itam Hakim Hopiit (1985), the video exposes but does not explain several elements. For instance, divination is fundamental to Yorb religion, and one of the primary ways to divine is through the use of four pieces of coconut shell. (In Nigeria, it was with the kola nut tree, but in Cuba and the Americas, practitioners use coconut), so the film has a brief up close scene of a babalawo throwing down the coconut pieces, another image flashs onto the screen of omiero sacred water, in front of Oguns shrine in Oyotunji Village (noticeable by the plethora of iron instruments and tools by the c auldron). Another scene has a dancing Oshun replete with yellow dress disappearing into a river (since she symbolizes fresh waters, particularly rivers) (1:11:23). Ochun, Oxum) is considered the Goddess of sweet water, rivers, patron of love, gold, marriage, intimacy, and beauty. She is associated with the color yellow, gold metals, copper, peacock feathers, and all that is sweet like honey. She is the patron saint of Cuba, and known as Caridad del Cobre. Oshun, also known as the second wife of Chango, on altars, is represented by honey, sunflowers, pretty yellow mater ial and dolls dressed in yellow In the movie, a doll dressed conspicuously of yellow represents Oshun within s everal overlapping images of an Osainistas shrine, footage of vegetation in Matanzas, and images of
241 water and rivers while both the group Orishas sing about the religion of the orishas, and the famous Matanzan group Los Muequitos chant. This offering of overlapping information (visual, verbal and audio) is common in the video Osain in Translation. The scenes offer too much information that a single viewing would never be enough to take in all of the clues, symbols and data. I frame this technique on st rategies executed by filmmakers like Victor Masayesva Jr. and Trinh MinhHa Trinh Minh Ha intersperses reality with poetics in Surname Viet Given Name Nam (1989). Written words, spoken poetry and visual images are all juxtaposed and overlapping in her fil m, sometimes repeated and sometimes barely heard. Her production becomes a poetic and political message of stories of Viet Nam w omen that may at times be confusing and disconcerting, yet always powerful. In Osain in Translation, if someone recognizes the triple set of sacred bat drums, or Lazaro Ros voice, or Fernando Ortizs seminal book3, then good, but if they dont, then that is alright. For, the primary point of this set of scenes is the drumming itself, and to feel the drumming, not just think abou t it. Secondarily, the goal is to viscerally connect the drumming to learning about and communicating with the natural environment. Thus, the film begins with blurriness coming into focus implying or suggesting the project of clarification of Yorb conce ptions of nature through the visual medium. The superimposition of tree and water is vital with limbs and sand blending into a nebulous betweenness. A mirror image of me with video camera gives way to a shadow of me with a camera on the sandy banks of th e Suwanne e River; I (investigator, traveler, scholar) am using the camera to attempt to understand and to translate Yorb ways of knowing nature. Next, part of the image begins to 3 Fernando Ortiz ( 18811969) was a Cuban ethnomusicologist and scholar of Afro Cuban culture.
242 move, we are moving, toward a sunset (in this case it is Paynes Prairie, F lorida) but the movement is going forth attempting to find out through travel and thereby ethnographic analysis what is occurring similarities and dissimilarities among perspectives and perceptions of nature. Self -reflexivity is vital to anthropological research especially in film (Ruby 2000). Immediately after the title and a blurry image of a tree that comes into focus, my shadow follows down the tree, which turns into a river, which turns back into a tree. I begin the film with an image of me with a camera me using a camera to capture and understand nature from my interpretation of certain Yorb diaspora perspectives gathered through field and archival research. I am translating the ideas into images and sounds and these audiovisual images into id eas and perceptions for an audience: English, Spanish, Yorb; distinct histories, yet common underlying themes are inherent in the translations. This theme of learning and transmitting knowledge and ways of knowing is recurrent and fundamental to the vide o Osain in Translation. Learning to Learn: Embodied Epistemology and Evocative Ethnography How do we learn, how do Yorb practitioners learn, and how might that influence how the landscape is perceived? Westerners tend to highlight the written word and privilege learning through books. Orisha followers tend to learn through the spoken word, the written word, the chanted word, rhythms and dancing (ThompsonDrewal 1998; Daniel 2005; Thompson 1975). Hence, this video illustrates several scenes demonstrative of this kind of embodied learning. In distinct countries and for all ages learning for Yorb practitioners appears to be based on embodied, experiential learning through experiencing rhythm and m ovement. Thus, there are scenes like two babalows playing chekeres while the young children play the djembes in Oyotunji, South Carolina During one of these scenes, a small child arrives pulling his drum, which is almost larger than he is, and the childre n pull their chairs over making room for him
243 without stopping their playing. At another time, the image focuses on the adult babalow emphasizing certain rhythms with his chekere to one of the children drumming. Yorb practitioners learn through drumming, rhythms, dancing, elders pointing things out, writing, and reading. Thus, representative scenes of each are demonstrated in the film. For instance, a scene shows a student writing vigorously; he is taking notes while a babalawo at Oyotunji speaks about Yo rb religion and culture (1:04:07). This emphasis on the written word as an important source of learning for the Yorb is referenced throughout the film with images of book titles fundamental to the Yorb in Cuba including Cabreras (2000) El Monte the most famous book on the natural world and Lucum (and the one which many use as the primary guidebook); Gender in Santera; Santera; Medical Bibliography on the Slaves in Cuba; and Sustainable Management of Natural Resources (1:12:19:03). These i mages of books and articles reference the research that has been done by both Cuban scholars and foreign investigators of religion and natural science. Furthermore, the placement of these images of book and article titles is meant to highlight critical the mes. For instance, the slaves knowledge of the surrounding plants for food and medicine within sacred forests called el monte. In addition, this information has been related to and transmitted through African diaspora based religions like Santera. The f ilm is about learning. Thereby, toward the end, while the women are dancing in white (for the Queens Birthday), a scene alludes to the act of learning which is the aim of Oyotunji to teach all races about African American culture. The image frames a n umber of students (visitors to Oyotunji) looking on at the dancing and drumming; an audience of varying ages, genders and ethnicities observes and learns (1:11:18:04). One has a cap that says Jesus.
244 I have shown the film and presented the information of alterantive epistemologies at several conferences as well as for multiple university classes. I have shown it to my students of Environment and Cultural Behavior class for the last few years at the University of Florida during the Spiritual Ecology week. S tudents in my classes are able to note that music and dance are critical vehicles of knowledge transmission and that communication includes that with plants.In fifteen minutes, viewers are able to gain readily the importance of alterantive systems of knowing nature, including communicating across spiritual and physical divides as well as the importance of dancing and drumming to learning. Additionally, in 2005 when I presented it at a plenary session at the Religion and Nature conference, one woman from t he audience commented during the discussion period that she at first I was trying to cognitively decipher the film and figure out who were the speakers and where was the landscape. Then, soon after, she admitted that the feeling of the film, the drums rhy thms and the liminal affect of the montage took over, and she let herself feel rather than simply think through the translation of Yoruba religion and ecology. One last example that demonstrates that the video Osain in Translation is in fact translating t he ideas that I am intending to the audience for which it was meant concerns my father. My dad, as a professor of the Humanities, has been able to offer critical insight in most of my papers. Yet, when I began to talk about embodiment and embodied epistemo logy, he confessed not really understanding the point, or what I was trying to express. He situates himself firmly in an Enlightenment tradition. Yet, one evening in the Backroom of the old-wooden, house where I grew up, I showed him Osain in Translation. And, he said, immediately, that he finally understood; he finally got it, and he indeed was able to explain the idea of moving between worlds, spaces and epistemologies.
245 With these various and varied experiences of using this film to illustrate a point th at to understand Yoruba ecological knowledge in the diaspora, one must must understand Yoruba religion, which is founded upon communicating between material and spiritual worlds. Conclusion Because our diligent mental and mindful work of separating, categ orizing, and naming may not get us any closer to understanding what is meaningful to the people with whom we study, I do not incorporate labels of people or places in the video Osain in Translation, nor do I offer geopolitical names, since they are not vital to my project. Instead, I integrate embodiment through evocative ethnography as an additional epistemological model critical to examine local knowledge and ways of knowing nature, particularly with practitioners of Yorb religion whether they ar e located in Cuba, the United States, Nigeria, Brazil, Venezuela or anywhere else on the globe who according to the literature and my own field research interpret nature as spiritual as well as material. This epistemology is intimately embodied in the sens e of what is learned (e.g., chants, drum rhythms, songs, foods) as well as through what is experienced in the process of learning. Osain in Translation is not a typical ethnographic documentary in that it does not attempt to outline a linear story, replete with the facts. Instead, it offers the possibilities of an alternative epistemological space through video production and viewing. The result is an alternative way of knowing not only accessing knowledge through categorizing, naming and sometimes otheri ng, but also through feeling and sensing. These feelings of ecoscapes and of alternative epistemologies are vital. I support Bruhner (2002: 65) in his assertion that we need to understand feeling tones as well as ecotones: A two -thousand-year -old tree or an ecosystem filled with a tumultuous, complex riot of interacting plant species feels markedly different from a lone sapling surrounded by the grass planted in the front yard of a new housing development, or the Norfold pine in the
246 corner of the kitchen. The green orderly lawns surrounding childrens homes do not bear any relationship to the up and -down, uneven landscapes filled with giant, craggy outcroppings of the immeasurably ancient stones of Earth that wild landscapes often possess. Although often di fficult for reductionists to accept, differing landscapes each project different and distinct feeling tones I suggest that Osainistas are the Yorb practitioners who share stronger feelings with their environment since they are more intimately and pract ically involved with their relationships with the plants. Thereby their conceptions of the plant -world as well as their interactions involve specific environmental practices, which they say are respectful. Through this research and this video, I hope to connect environmental policy -makers, scholars and students to alternative epistemological spaces that affirm the integrity and the spirituality of nature when thinking about, learning about and talking about/referring to the universe. In this respect, I would like to offer another language to describe and thereby perceive our natural world one that is not solely based on mechanistic structures of reality or mathematical equations of certainty. Cuba seems to be a complex case-study that demonstrates not onl y Western science at its best with a ratio of the most scientists on the small island than in the rest of Latin America; with the creation of a vaccine for Hepatitis; with the technology creation for solar power; but also with the high percentage of an ama lgamation of material -spiritualist of whom I have mainly highlighted but one small portion of a small yet significant segment of the population. Additionally, the development and conservation agenda politically is strides ahead of most nations including th e United States. The next chapter delves briefly into contemporary Cubas ecological import, governmental policy on conservation and sustainable development, and conservation as Cubans envision it. The premise of the chapter is that to put political ecol ogy into practice, not only methodology,
247 but also pedagogical techniques must integrate an emphasis on hearing alternative epistemologies as well as finding solutions that are locally meaningful.
248 CHAPTER 9 SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, CONSERVATION, AND CUBA S ALTERNATIVE MODERNITY I have focused my doctoral research on improving methodological and pedagogical inquiry to better understand and represent Lucum or Yorb -derived knowledge and ways of knowing nature in Cuba to make a theoretical and methodologica l intervention in the field of tropical conservation and development, African diaspora studies and religion and nature research. In recognizing the significant theoretical interest and the great practical importance in studying and better understanding loc al ecological models and practices, I highlight the anthropological import of improving the historical record and representation of certain African diaspora peoples ecological knowledge, particularly in Cuba. This chapter underscores the need to collabora te meaning share scientists multiple knowledges of socio-environmental relationships along with Afro Cuban varied eco religious knowledges and techniques of communication and transmission to create a more relevant conversation of conservation for Western Cuba. Revolution and Sustainable Development Cuba is a key area to explore human -nature relationships due to the significant influence Afro Cubans have had on the fabric of Cuban modernity (as I hope the previous chapters have shown) as well as to the Cu ban governments focus on sustainable development. Notably, Cubas government became environmentally conscious only after the revolution. Notice in the chart below, the drastic decline in forested areas from 1492 until 1959. The revolution of 1959 fundamentally altered environmental policy in Cuba. On 10 April 1959, the Forestry Department of the Rebel Army was created with the Ley de Repoblacion Forestal (Law of Reforestation). This law focused on forest preservation and crea ted nine new national parks along with reforestation plantations. From 1959 until 1992, 14,000 hectares had been reforested annually.
249 Table 9 1. Percentage of Cuban national territory covered in forest 1492 1999. Additionally, Cuba amended the constitution incorporating the need to focus on sustainable development4. To integrate sustainable development into policy and practice, Cuba created specific organizations and agencies as well as allocated monies to fulfill the outlined goals. For exampl e, Cuba created Cubas Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment (CITMA), which states: 4 The concept of sustainability gained emphasis in the 1980s, and was addressed systematically for the first time through the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) which published the report Our Common Future (WCED 1987), more commonly known as the Brundtland Report (Filho 1996: 63). In 1992, more than 100 heads of state met in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). This Earth Summit was held to tackle critical problems of environmental protection and socio economic development. T he assembled leaders signed the Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity; endorsed the Rio Declaration and the Forest Principles; and adopted Agenda 21, a 300page plan for achieving sustainable development in the 21st century. This conference, as well as many others focused on defining in practical terms the meaning of sustainable development and how it could be implemented. The primary premise centered on the triple bottom line: economic growth, social equality and ecological conservation.
250 The vision of Cuban environmental policy is focused on a development that is economically and socially sustainable, that supports three basic pillars of knowing: social equity, economic growth and the protection of the environment (CITMA & PNUMA 2001: 80). It also created: the reforestation proposal, Plan Mantat, which encourages reforestation of ma inly fruit and fuelwood trees, environmental impact studies for n ew businesses and industries, which are obligatory previous to fulfillment of investments in fields like mining, industry and construction, measures for protecting, preserving and improving ecosystems through the Center of Research and Management of Coasta l Environment in Coco Key for tourism (Gutirrez and Rivero 2002: 211). One of the organizations the government created to regulate conservation and environmental impacts is the National Commission for the Protection of the Environment and Rational Use of Natural Resources (COMARNA), which claims that for every hectare of forest harvested, 16.9 hectares of trees must be planted (or 110,000 replanted per 6,500 harvested). Today, you cannot cut down a tree without permission, and if you gain permission, then you must plant another two trees. In 1981, Law 33, the Law of the Protection of the Environment and Rational Use of the Natural Resources was created. These policies have apparently made some difference since Cuba is slowly gaining more forested land according to the Ministry of Agriculture ( MINAGRI : 1999) as you can see from Table 9 1 above. And in 1992, at the Ro Earth Summit International Conservation Meeting, Cuba earned an A+ for implementation of sustainable development practices. In 2002, at the ten year follow up conference in Johannesburg, government officials discussed alternative livelihoods that would aid in poverty alleviation and development strategies for small -island states. They announced that the local people and their cultural herita ge would play a pivotal role:
251 The survival of small -island developing States is firmly rooted in their human resources and cultural heritage, which are their most significant assets; those assets are under severe stress and all efforts must be taken to e nsure the central position of people in the process of sustainable development (United Nations 1994). Cuba, since 1959, has focused its development efforts much as the United Nations offered as a priority in 1994, firmly rooted in their human resources. Since the 1959 Revolution, human development has been a critical issue to which the government has placed a priority in rhetoric and in policy. Notably, modern Cuba has attempted to bring education and medicine not only to the elite, but to everyone including those who had been most marginalized by the previous class and color -based system while Cuba was a colony and while it was a Republic: people of color, rural dwellers, and women. Some of the following statistics from the World Health Organization Repo rt 2008 referring to 2006 illustrate a few of their outstanding achievements in this respect, despite overwhelming obstacles (WHO 2008) In all of the Caribbean and Latin America, Cuba has realized the highest development indicators rivaling industrialized nations, especially when including inner cities and other marginalized minority groups in industrialized nations. Specifically, Cubas literacy rate is 98%, child mortality male/female (per 1000) is 8/7, adult mortality in Cuba is 127/82 respectively for males and females, while in the United States it is much higher at 137/80. Also life expectancy at birth for males and females is 76 and 80 years old respectively. Access to education for the rural, the poor, and women has been a major achievement for Cu ba. I remember many years ago when I went to Cienfuegos a small town off of the ocean a few hours southeast of Havana and I was sitting across from a psychologist at her round, wooden dining room table. In the confidentiality of her home, I asked how she really felt about having Fidel Castro as her countrys leader. She exclaimed that she was proud of having Fidel as her president because of all of the changes he had made possible. She would not have been able
252 to go to school had it not been for the policy changes enacted after the Revolution for she was a woman of color who was from a farming family. She would have been limited to a life of agriculture, and instead she was offered free education that took her through her masters degree and allowed her to become the psychologist that she is. Throughout my various visits to Cuba, I heard this style of story repeatedly. Although many problems exist in Cuba, the conception of development there appears to emphasize human potential rather than solely economic ga in for a limited few. Due to the excellent education that Cubans enjoy, along with a focus on Marxist materialism, it boasts over 11 percent of the scientists of Latin America (including a cadre of professional foresters, wetland and soil scientists) even though it only comprises two percent of the population ( Rennett). Although the small country has only only 11 million people, it 52 scientific research institutes in the capital and more than 12,000 scientists on the whole island (Fawthrop 2004). Cuba has made remarkable contributions to science. For instance, Cubas scientists discovered a cure for Meningitis B in the late 1980s, whose vaccine was not sold but gifted to other countries in need. Yet, due to Cubas development policy that is based on hum an resources5 rather than solely increasing economic gain as is the thrust of internationally implemented developmenti policy (and sometimes enforced through structural adjustment programs), they did not sell the treatment, but instead gave it to the human s who needed it. 5 Despite the tremendous gains in science, medicine and education that Cubans have enjoyed, two severe backlashes should be acknowledged. One, due to the increased access to education, more Cubans received higher educations. Yet, because Cuba reached their goal of a more equally and higher educated populace, they have incurred difficulties with people wanting to stay farmers and grow the food needed by the nation. The second situation that I encountered that was directly attributa ble to Cubas focus on developing its human resources had to do with its current policy to lend its residents to other countries to aid in mostly medical, but also other endeavors.
253 Since the 1959 Revolution, Cuban policies and practices are focused on sustainable development or integrating environmental consciousness and conservation with their economic goals. Despite numerous challenges, the bulk of which are too great and multifaceted to flesh out here, Cubas decision to support sovereign governance and development strategies may be a much -needed model for the Caribbean, Latin America, and the world. Development for the Cuban government, means more than merely economic growth, as the following quote from the science ministry makes clear: It is also knowing that the underdeveloped world cannot aspire to develop repeating the same di sposable and consumerist model, for which it would require several planets like ours. Of this key model of the issue of not renouncing economic growth, but doubting the harmonious character that would permit the arrival of an authentic society of well bein g. For this, it is essential that Cuba maintains and defines its socialist model of development, that which has permitted it to construct a society that is economically prosperous, socially just and environmentally sustainable6. (CITMA& PNUMA 2001: 80) The Cuban government displays this position of protecting the environment through billboards such as the following: A B Figure 9 1. This is a series of environmental billboards in Cuba that show A. The world needs the globalization of solidarity B. Protect the Ozone layer C. Defend our hope 6 Es tambien sabiendo que el mundo subdesarrllado no puede aspirar a desarrollarse repitiendo estos modelos dispendiosos y consumistas, para los que se requeririan varios planetas como el nuestro. De este modelo clave del asunto transita por no renunciar al crecimiento economico,pero dotandolo de un carcter armonioso que permita llegar a una autentica sociedad de bienestar. Para esto, es esencial que Cuba mantenga y defineda su modelo socialista de desarrollo, lo que le permitira construir una sociedad economicamenta prospera, socialmente justa y ambientamente sostenible.
254 C. Figure 9 1. Continued Since the revolution, each year in Cuba is dedicated to a specific goal. In 2005, the goal was energy efficiency; it was the Year of Energy. For that goal, Cuba geared up to reduce its carbon footprint and improve the energy efficiency of every home on the island. So, each and every home received energy efficient CFL light bulbs. Each home also received free pots and stoves. Additionally, the government replaced old refrigerators wi th new ones at low costs to the houses. People also received rice cookers and pressure cookers to make the meals that they most A B. Figure 9 2. Photos of energy efficient appliances subsidized by the Cuban government for every household.
255 often cook (ric e and beans respectively) using much less energy to prepare. The photos below are examples of these energy saving technologies that the Cuban government supplied to every household. Cuban Ecological Significance Cuba is home to the worlds smallest bird, a bee hummingbird called zunzuncito, which is smaller than a toothpick. It also boasts the worlds smallest toad ranita as well as several other endemic fauna. Moreover, the autochthonous flora of Cuba is the richest in the Antillean region of the Caribbean due to its endemic character of around 8000 species. Cuba is considered the main species biodiversity center for the region ( 61). Many plants, including fruit trees, became naturalized in Cuba about 450 years ago. Additionally, Dr. Angela Leiva Sanchez, botanist and director of the Jardn Botnico Nacional (National Botanical Gardens) and president of the Sociedad Cubana para la Proteccin de la Naturaleza (ProNaturaleza), which is the Cuban Society for Environmental Protection, calculated that 1 4% of all wild flora and 27.7 of endemic taxa from vascular plants are included in some category of extinction. About 3000 species of endemic plants are only found in Cuban territory (p62). For instance, although Cuba boasts more than 90 types of palm tree it is the Palma Real that is the most recognized. This tree, that can tower over 40 meters tall, is also the national tree and is symbolic of Chango. The Palma Corcho (cork palm) is estimated to only have about 500 individuals left in the wild. This tree is linked to the Cretaceous period (between 65 and 135 million years ago) as such it is considered a living fossil. The ceiba is a spiritual and national icon.
256 Matanzas Ecological Significance Matanzas holds geological, biological and human marks of hist orical and contemporary Cuba experiences. Since the continental drift through some of the major tectonic and neotectonic geological alterations, Matanzas geological structures show the geomorphological alterations. In addition, this region holds artifacts that represent the biological (flora and fauna) diversity from Eocene Age as well as remnants of the first settlements of travelers. Matanzas has a high biological diversity profile including numerous endemic species (around 900 species of indigenous pla nts, 115 national endemic and 5 local and of the fauna represents 12 mammal species, 160 birds, 31 reptiles 5 amphibians and a great number of vertebrate fish) (CITMA 1998), and houses one of the richest wetlands in all of the insular Caribbean, (with predominantly mangroves making up 52% of the covered forest). The remaining 4% is located between the north and central region of the territory. Additionally, Matanzas has a biosphere reserve (71% of 10,499 km2 is core zone), wildlife refuges and national par ks. Officially, Matanzas has 29 Protected Areas, which equals 339, 387 hectares (32.6% of the total area of the territory). Cinaga de Zapata swamp covers the majority with 28.6% (CITMA). Of all the provinces in Cuba, Matanzas had the least percentage of deforested land in 1995 with 344.8 ha or only 3.6% of the area. Despite that in the mid-nineties, the province of Matanzas was one of the least deforested in the country. In 1996, it improved its rating, and dropped to only 2.9% deforested land with 342.6 Mha and in 1997, it drastically dropped to .3 of the area was deforested (by far the lowest in the entire country) and increased its forest cover to 402.6 Mha the second highest in the country in 1997 (ONE 2000/2001: 38). Matanzas boasts 29.12% forest c over in the province including Cienaga de Zapata. In the province, there are 343, 898.3 ha of covered forests that represent 29.12% of the total Province.
257 311359.5 ha are natural forests (90.5%) and 32539.3 ha are planted. In 2002, 22% of the national ter ritory (1,331,900 ha) was in protected areas (Gutirrez and Rivero 2002: 210; 10). This forested territory is critical to many residents, including Osainistas selecting specific medicinal plants to heal Cuban people, and birds going north and south between North and South America. Due to the migratory corridor that exists, these winged travelers take refuge, make nests, and feed in this terrain. Due, in part, to a cadre of dedicated natural scientists, Matanzas maintains focused efforts on reforestation (as well as efforts to limit deforestation). Yet, I question if only scientists working primarily on premises of Western, empirical science are to be lauded for these achievements? Or more specifically, I wonder where are the nodes of knowledge production o ccurring in modern Cuba; where are the links between Afro Cuban religion, ecological knowledge and conservation practice? For the future, I inquire about the possibly very logical collaboration potential for natural tropical forest and wetlands scientists to work more closely with Osainistas (and healers and herbalists from other religious traditions). In order for this kind of a collaboration to work though, scientists must be able to acknowledge and listen7 to worldviews that are alternative and maybe eve n contradictory to theirs. Thus, specifically conservationists and Osainistas may have a lot in common to be able to combine resources and achieve improved collaboration in the efforts of tropical forest conservation. So how might the conceptions of conservation differ in Cuba from government -enforced conservation policy? Lay Cubans appear to have distinct impressions of what the environment means than Osainistas. The following story is telling. 7 I emphasize that the listening skills of the scientists in this case, since Yoruba practitioners have illustrated historically this ability through their synthesis of alternatives (even seemingly contradictory ones) into their discourse and their pract ices. For instance, practitioners will integrate allopathic medicine, herbal remedies and spiritual invocations to help in the process of healing a person.
258 Conservation and Cubans One day I was walking to go swim in the nearby ocean in Alamar with a friend, as we often did at sunset. She had brought the typically Cuban one liter plastic bottle of coke with us (and, even more typically, she had put some Cuban rum in it). However, on the return trip, I was surprised to notice that we no longer had the plastic bottle, and even more surprised when I asked her what happened to it, and she stated she had thrown it out. Knowing that there were no trash receptacles on the rocky cliff of the oceans edge, I realized she had just thrown it to the ground. iiM y friend was not a Lucum practitioner, and, as a typical Cuban (as I was told and witnessed multiple times later with numerous different Cubans8), she was accustomed to throwing her trash in the street, in the sea and wherever she happened to be. This incident and this question led me to understand a little more of the everyday conceptions of conservation for Cubans as well as typical Cuban behavior. Ive seen numerous occasions as well as had many people explain to me that behavior of throwing trash anywhere was part of Cuban norms. Once many people finish eating something, they will often just drop the container where they are in the middle of the street, middle of a bridge, wherever, in t he middle of a sentenceand keep walking. I observed this nonchalant discarding of trash, and my United States sensibilities of conservation were stunned. This incident made me question the ideas of conservation and how they might be different for practi tioners and nonpractitioners. To inquire more systematically about Cuban conceptions of conservation and particularly this concern of trash and recycling, I did two things. One, when I asked people to freelist water, on the reverse side of the page, I as ked them to freelist individual practices of conservation. In this way, I hoped to gain a more Cuban -oriented 8 Including children of practitioners and children of natural scientists and conservationists.
259 assessment of what conservation entailed. Additionally, I added the question If you have an empty bottle and there is no trashcan around, what would you do with it? to my list of semi structured interview questions ( Appendices D and E). In response to the question of what people would do with an empty plastic bottle and no receptacle, the practitioners responded: carry it home, find a receptacle and sometimes with a slight smile, admit that they would sometimes throw it away wherever. Some of the participants, when they answered the question about the bottle, then explained that they would take it home. For United States residents, this act of taking an empty bottle to recycle would be considered an identifying act of conservation; yet in Cuba, this act is not necessarily akin to what Europeans and North Americans would consider conservation. In Cuba, although typical to throw trash in the stree t, it is also typical to reuse items like plastic bottles. Large plastic bottles are useful and even necessary to access many other items, from water to wine. For instance, you would need to bring your own plastic bottle to refill with your neighbors vege table oil (probably a side business because this neighbor skims off the top of the local factory where she works), or rum from another neighbor (because of the same). These are also the bottles that people bring to another neighbor to fill with the wine he makes at his house also part of the intricate and prevalent black market or informal labor system that is ubiquitous in Cuba. Moreover, the plastic bottles are frequently used to store both potable water and water for washing, since the timing of water av ailability is neither continuous nor consistent. In Cuba, then, reusing one liter plastic bottles is common and necessary. The practice is not derived from a sense of conserving the environment, but because resources are scant and expensive. Another issue to consider when thinking through this particular example of how to interpret what residents do with an empty plastic bottle is the infrastructure available. In Cuba,
260 with few resources available, the transportation infrastructure is minimal. As one young Cuban make explained, everything is difficult here. He highlighted the fact that transportation due to lack of vehicles, lack of gasoline, and lack of parts for maintenance meant that garbage trucks were rare. Also, the receptacles to store public trash are not common. Instead, people often find a corner that contains the piles of community trash and add to it until it is overflowing into the street. The frequency of trash pick up did change during my last trip in December 2006 because of an outbreak of dengue fever. Thus every single household was sprayed regularly with fumes to prevent the mosquitoes, and trash was picked up more regularly. Another example of an act that would absolutely be considered eco-friendly or conservation oriented in the Unite d States would be to reuse not just recycle by finding an appropriate bin and throwing away your mass of plastic bags from the grocery store, or reusing a couple of them for your trash bin in the bathroom, but washing and reusing these same plastic bags t he next trip to the grocery store. Yet, in Cuba, a mentality of consumption and waste is not A. B. Figure 9 3 Plastic bags washed and hanging to dry to be able to reuse. A. Plastic bags on the clothesline, and B. Up -close of hanging plastic bags.
261 pre valent. Instead, items that are still useful are often reused. As the figures below illustrates, plastic bags from the grocery store are washed and reused. Hence, that which would be considered an emblematic behavior of conservation in the United States, n ot just recycling, but reusing a plastic bottle or plastic bag, in Cuba is not equivalent to a practice of conservation due to its unique circumstances. So, what would be considered conservation to Cubans? To better understand notions of conservation, I asked Yorb practitioners at the Yorb Association and Yorb practitioners in their temple -houses to do some cognitive freelisting to ascertain what behaviors they at tributed to individual practices of conservation. Their responses illustrate important items for Cuban living conditions and lived experience. Figure 9 5. Photo of a typical wood-slate window in Cuba at night. It is interesting that the conservation p ractices that Yorb practitioners interpret as individual practices of conservation (Appendix H) includes notions of sound like, dont make really loud noises, and dont make unnecessary noises. This aspect of pollution never once got
262 mentioned in the United States and European -based surveys that I pored over when I was attempting to create a system to define and measure a conservation ethic. Nonetheless in Cuba, this aspect is particularly relevant since loud music on stereos and bembs is rampant. Ad ditionally, these aspects of pollution relate more specifically to a Cuban urban environment that lives with high -density populations with wood slate windows (Figure 9-5 ), which do little to filter the neighbors sounds. Also, some of the relevant Cuban id eas of conservation involved: teaching kids to love nature, placing factories (industry) far from the city, trash collection by the state, social protest and participation, not writing on the walls, and not smoking. In addition to locally relevant aspects of conservation, practitioners also named practices that are more in line with international policy definitions of conservation : conserving live fish, planting new trees, taking care of parks and gardens, preserving cleanliness, using trashcans, keeping t he environment clean, taking care of fauna, taking care of water and taking care of plants, protecting the plants, obtaining methods to conserve potable water, promoting hygiene, recycling paper, recycling cans in separate places, not using toxic chemical objects, not throwing papers on the floor, not damaging or dirtying the environment, not throwing out trash, not throwing trash in the sea, not throwing trash in the river, not destroying the trees, not contaminating the beach, not contaminating the ocean, not contaminating the streets, not throwing trash, avoiding contamination, not buying aerosols, not contaminating the sources of a natural precious liquid Although I asked for individual practices of conservation, some of the answers dealt with social a nd community acts like social protest and participation, and avoiding social contamination. Additionally, they included aspects that are related to national and international
263 government regulation and policy like state collection of garbage, locating factories far from the city, protecting the ozone layer and stopping the destruction of wars. As this inquiry into different perceptions of conservation elucidates, not all Cubans conceptualize conservation the same. This acknowledgement is critical when consi dering potential for collaboration. Collaboration in Cuba Cuba is a ripe area for considering the potential of collaborative conservation. Nevertheless, some schisms may exist. For instance, in much of the scientific literature, one of the primary concern s is the lack of an environmental ethic, or a consciousness that in turn creates conscientious actions that are environmentally beneficial instead of detrimental. In Matanzas, this lack of environmental ethic is also labeled on the most marginalized neighb orhood of La Marina, which is one of the worst sources of the contaminated water problems that affect the bay. The location of La Marina at the lowest elevation of the city, immediately bordering the waters edge, and historically a marginalized neighborho od, lacks sufficient sewers, so household waste runs down the streets and into the rivers and the bay. Additionally, the residents of La Marina are predominantly Afro Cuban. And, despite Revolutionary policy and practice to eliminate racism, discriminatio n still exists. Much of this, I argue, comes from lack of understanding. Through conversations that are more equal in terms of attempting to understand alternative perspectives and learn from differences, I assert that improved collaborative conservation p ractices can occur. These efforts can help to promote ecological, economic and human development in ways that value the different knowledges of distinct populations. In Cuba, this means that international organizations like the UNEP (United Nations Environmental Programme), government organizations like CITMA (Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnologa y Medio Ambiente [The Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment) and
264 nongovernmental organizations like FUNAPRO ("Antonio Nez Jimnez" Foundation f or Nature and Humanity) should work more directly with specific Osainistas to understand Yorb ecological knowledge as well as to work toward more open conversations (pace Spivak 1988) that attempt to listen as well as explain. In this way, Osainistas, Santeros and Santeras as well as Babalawos and Iyalawos may offer more culturally appropriate leadership and can offer their role as religious leaders and knowledge transmitters to guide their religious kin in environmentally friendly environmental knowledge, attitudes and behaviors. As two sacred grove experts Nyamweru and Sheridan (2008: 289) explain in a recent journal volume dedicated to sacred groves in Africa: Sacredness does not equal conservation, instead social, political, and economic arrangements mediate cosmology and ecology, and it is in these institutional arenas that Africans negotiate both spiritual values and pragmatic material goals. Moreover, scholars interested in co nservation must particularly understand the role of the Osainista, who seems to follow what Snodgrass et al. refer to as an herbal healers conservation (2008: 309). This distinction is critical, because it highlights the diverse roles, practices and kn owledges of different religious practitioners. By focusing on the Osainistas roles and relationships with herbs in the Lucum religion, I hope to attend to Snodgrass et al. s call to move the argument of anthropological and political ecological debates f rom a simple discussion of whether indigenous persons are conservationists to the issue of cultural variation within indigenous communities (2008: 309). Just as Cubans should no t be considered homogenous, Yorb practitioners in Cuba (and beyond) should n ot be considered monolithic in their values or their practices. Though Lachataer began to enlighten audiences that Afro Cuban religions were several and varied and Canizares indicates a range of practitioner association and involvement within the Yorb religion, neither of them and few other scholars
265 mention the role of osainistas. Yet, Osainistas perform a special function in understanding and enacting Yorb ecological knowledge. In sum, I hope that my contribution of evoking and explaining alternativ e ways of understanding nature particularly through documentary video and what I call evocative ethnography will be able to help students and policy -makers alike understand cultural systems that may integrate instead of separate the spiritual with the ma terial. This task seems critical not only to improve our comprehension of global diversityand thereby teach science to culturally and linguistically diverse students in the school system but also to improve international standards for and implementation o f conservation policy.
266 CHAPTER 10 CONCLUDING WITH A CONVERSATION ON CONSERVATION: POL ITICS OF CONCEPTUALIZING AND CONSERVING NATURE This manuscript has highlighted marginalized epistemologies in the academy by reframing Afro Cuban ecological knowledges. African knowledges have often been understood within an evolutionary hierarchical model denoting inferiority (and even criminality) in conceptualization and practice. Currently, Afro Cuban knowledge more often is identified as folklore and limited to folklore studies (Moore 2006; Hagedorn 2001, 1995; Daniel 1998; Fras n.d.). Yet, the global flow of people, ideas, and practices deserves improved attention. I hope to raise awareness of alternative modernities that may deepen our understanding of diasporic ecoscapes, which include human/nature relationships by translating Osain, the Yoruba deity of healing herbs and the sacred forest, who despite his fundamental significance to Yoruba religion and practice, has gained little attention in scholarly or religious works1. In unraveling different perspectives of overarching concepts like nature, power, religion and human -nature relationships, my point has been two -fold, one to illustrate a different way to illustrate certain black histories and experiences, particularly those that enjoy a keen sense of ecological knowledge, and two to employ this understanding in the efforts of an improved conversation for conservat ion and development in the tropics and beyond. In this process, I hope to expand an understanding of Yoruba religion and ecology as they are conceived and practiced in the black Atlantic. Yoruba ecological knowledge particularly that of Osain has important implications for conservation and development in the tropics as well as pedagogy of the environment in the world. 1 Bra ndon (1997) has one sentence and Thompson (1983) has one paragraph on Osain for Cuba and Yorubaland respectively. Verger (1976, 1996) does talk about Ossaim in Brazil, particularly the plants. Yet, no one has mentioned the import of Osain and Osainistas f or conservation and development.
267 Foremost, the images that I seek to illustrate are not of the typical Western media experience of the dismay and destitution economically, phycically, spiritually, and intellectually of Africans in the black Atlantic. Instead, I use this research to respond to the role of media African and transAfrican images as Jacob Olupona (2006) explains: Responding to the Western medias image of the Afri can continent in disarraythe majority of its people impoverished and despondent about their present and their future scholars of African religion present a robust and creative Africa of deep religious sensibilities, the home of a cultural renaissance and an array of spiritual traditions reflecting complex hierarchies of power, agency, and authority. It is high time the broader academy took earnest notice, not merely to soothe the conscience of its racist past but to gain a truly holistic and balanced persp ective about humanitys religious heritage. Virtually every story of importance in the study of religion can and should begin with Africa the cradle of humanity. For this reason, I prefer a perspective that places the imagination and subjectivities in the foreground of social analysis. In accord, this research is about attempting to create bridges and cross barriers of misunderstanding through alternative approaches where the viewer gets a taste, a sensorial experience that helps in deepening an understandi ng of another cultural paradigm. One which does not necessarily separate so distinctly the material from the spiritual, the body from the mind, or the subject from the object at the same time that it does not collapse these divides into oblivioninstead th ey become crossable and passable, with specific techniques of communication. Some techniques of communication that the Yoruba diaspora excel at are storytelling, dance, and music to transfer knowledge and maintain social behaviors including environmental ones. In this effort, I contribute an additional methodological and pedagogical, and thereby, theoretical framework to research conservation and development that I call evocative ethnography. I offer videographic and cognitive techniques to in tegrate into ethnographic fieldwork, analysis and illustration so that tropical conservation and development researchers and policy makers (along with ethnoecologists, ecological anthropologists, and religion and nature
268 scholars) can have an alternative and additional means of understanding African derived religious and therein ecological knowledge. Hence, this work has argued that conceptualizing nature carries implicit assumptions, and those underlying suppositions influence perceptions, actions and policies. My research calls attention, then, to the values that many researchers may not recognize or assess. For instance, the environment cannot be conceived only as wilderness that is vacant of all human interaction; it is not accurate and may not be helpful in terms of longterm conservation planning, and worse yet, it may show environmental racism in the prefere ntial treatment of certain bodies over the usurption of access to resources for others. Notwithstanding, this hegemonic imaginary of nature and human/nature relations is shaped by and for the worldviews of the economically and politically powerful also in turn shape internationally implemented policies, which affect local residents in unequal ways. Instead, conservation, like development, must be conceptualized to include cultural diversity (Nyamera and Sheridan 2008: 286). Cultural Diversity in Cuba For in stance, many African derived religions and lived experiences do not oppose the metaphysical against the mundane. Instead matters of kinship, agrarian change, ethnicity, political economy, and religion are interwoven into aspects of resource use and decisio n -making (Shipton 1994). Sacred ecologies can embrace greater policy diversity and research that combine a hybrid model of scientific and humanist methodologies. Toward this end, international and national policy makers must also look at the perceptions of other cultures religions, cosmologies and environmental behaviors. Yet, Strang acknowledges that unfortunately the analysis also suggests that the integrated concepts of sustainability discernible in Aboriginal and other indigenous cultures are deeply
269 embedded in cultural concepts and forms of social identity that are not readily transferable to different economic modes, or to large -scale forms of social or ganization ( Strang 2003:52). Nonetheless, unlike many interpretations of indigenous groups who may be predominantly rural and reside in very different ways than the West, Yorb people have been predominantly urban since before the 1400s. In SouthWest Africa, Yoruba have had complex social organization system s since Ife and Oyo from the 11th century. They have celebrated a highly metropolitan lifeway and are continuing to do so in the densely packed Matanzas. In addition, understanding how Lucum practitioners understand and interact with their environment is critical to improving our understanding of human/nature relationships specifically because they are a predominantly urban population. Moreover, what is all too clear is that the future of tropical conservation and development should include alternative models and conceptualizations of nature and human/ nature relationships particularly locally relevant ones that encompass humans, environment and the divine. Specifically, I wish to call attention to how Yorb values of Orisha reverence in Cuba i n this case, the ecological knowledge of Yorb prac titioners, and specifically Osainistas should inform conversations on conservation. And, Cuba offers an exemplar of a complex alternative modernity that integrates Western science with Afro Cuban religions. As I again quote Stephan Palmi who in Wizards an d Scientists affirms the modernity of African diaspora cultural contexts in Cuba: [They are not]...typological opposites, the meanings, associated with the terms Western modernity and Afro Cuban tradition [Indeed] [w]hatever else Afro Cuba religion is, it is as modern as nuclear thermodynamics, or the suppositions about the nature of our world that underlie DNA sequencing, or structural adjustment policies, or on line banking. (2007:15) Yoruba practitioners, particularly Matanzan Osainistas ecological and ritual knowledge, offer a space to rethink conceptions of nature, conservation and development. Cubas alternative
270 modernity offers an opportunity to explore a model of sustainable development that shares significant commonalities with some internationall y implemented conservation and development projects. For instance, Cubas government is invested deeply in positivist, empirical science; the literacy and health of Cuban residents soars above most countries in the world, and Afro Cubans are already urban, cultured and market -familiar residents. Cuban modernity highlights the conjunctions of overlapping epistemologies. By that I mean most Afro -Cubans are urban and their urbanity does not come from recent introduction, but for centuries as I noted in Chapter 2, their cultural predilections have been based on urban livingthe highest population in Southwest Nigeria (Oyo and Ile Ife). In Cuba, empirical, positivist science has a played an integral role in development, conservation and medical science and policy Additionally, Cuba since the Revolution has proclaimed atheism, based on Marxist materialism that would seem to deny any idealism or religion in the popular mindset. Despite this, Yoruba religion has flourished in Cuba and abroad. And Yoruba religion of fers stark contrast to positivist science, because it not only does not deny the spiritual, it offers embodied techniques that help humans communicate directly with these spirits, and thereby receive help from natural and spiritual elements for their moder n, contemporary lives. Nor does following this religion eschew the incorporation of modern medicine or other aspects of modernity. Instead, AfroCubans tend to be highly savvy and inclusive to the multiple alternatives available to them. L ike the story of Soledad and Canizares vignette of the woman possessed illustrates, and Osvaldo emphasizes, they integrate what is useful, allowing each to work in its field of expertise, and thereby improving the health of the whole person. Yet, some very specific disti nctions exist. Cubas development policy (in part because it is not obliged to abide by World Bank driven structural adjustment programs) upholds the goal of
271 sustainable development, including human, ecological and economic. And, Afro Cuban culture, partic ularly Yoruba religion, is subtly and not so subtly integrated into the very fabric of modern Cuban life. Taking into consideration the ecological knowledge that this research has uncovered, and how these ways of interpreting the environment may hold deep implications for environmental behaviors and policy, it is time to have more equal conversations on conservation to enable more equitable (socially and ecologically just) collaborations. Conversations on Conservation for Collaboration Why is a discussion on African diaspora interpretations of nature important if not critical in this temporal juncture of modern time? I began to ask myself this question after years of being i mmersed in the literature and approaching the closure of my rese arch Then, a few months ago, I picked up and read an article in Cultural Survival Quarterly on Nigerian conservation. I read about another typical, yet no less sad story, of how the local (indigenous) had been evicted from their residence, region, livelih oods, and medicinal and sacred healing site in the name of conservation. I felt reaffirmed about the contribution of this research and the almost seven years of doctoral work that I have dedicated to the project of expressing the need for conservationists people, policy, and programs to not simply advocate the exclusion of people from national preservation parks to safely preserve the biodiversity, but also to include locals in the planning and conceptualizing of the environment and conservation projects to be able to exchange and learn rich ecological knowledge, and various ways of knowing distinct facets of nature. For as Peterson (1999) and Plumwood (2006) separately note in terms of environmental ethics, simply because nature is socially constructed does not mean that there is not an environment outside the human realm of thought, a prediscursive, nonhuman nature. Instead, different values and different practices create very different impacts. For this reason, I support conservation endeavors, but I do no t support eco imperialism or neocolonialism in the guise of
272 conservation and development, where the colonial mindset, trajectory and implementation of projects remains the same as the 1500s 1800s with its concurrent consequences of mass ecological and huma n destruction. Instead, I hope to call attention to the differences of values and visions that can enable not only a more comprehensive, but also a more equal conversation that involves the listening (and hearing) of alternative perspectives. In this unde rtaking, I hope to avoid the (even unknowing) imposition of Eurocentric, value -laden prescribed notions of preeminent human-nature relationships that value nature as wildnerness and the non-historically accurate perception of nature meaning everything nonhuman and not touched by humans. In this view of nature, local residents can only hurt and not help ecological functioning and biodiversity maintenance. In this mindset, not only are the local residents perceived as the problem, they are portrayed often as ignorant and lacking of culture, knowledge, modernity, and development. This research seeks to dispel these myths particularly for African -derived ecological knowledge holders. We as conservationists and ecological anthropologists must recognize that although humans can and do harvest destructively and overexploit the environment, which can degrade biodiversity and destroy ecosystems, they can also enact, as the botanist Charles Peters explains [d]eliberate planning, controlled harvesting, and forest management, [and] on the other hand, can greatl y increase the distribution of and abundance of local resources (1996: 242). Conservation is articulated at multiple sociopolitical scales ( Zimmerer 2003: 60). Cuba is no different; its conservation and development policies and practices involve international, national and multiple local constituents, or stakeholders. Consequently, the applicable aspect of this research is how to integrate distinct value systems and power differentials into policy and practice that will function and thrive at these diff erent levels.
273 Conversations: Political Ecology in Practice My question, then, is how do we listen to proponents of paradigms that are so different than our cultural norms? The answer to this question seems useful not only for conservation and for supporti ng sovereign development, but also for reducing discrimination and prejudice. This is not a new question, since the last three decades has produced scholars dedicated to research aspects of it. For instance, Chambers (1997) wrote Whose Reality is it? Putti ng the First Last to recognize not only the power differentials in Western researchers investigating nonwestern practices within a Western paradigm, but also the inappropriate and incorrect assessments that have come of it. Harding (1998), dedicates an ent ire monograph to the thesis questioning whether science can be multicultural? Or, she queries, does science with its gloss of objectivity, value and context -free research design and analysis not acknowledge its value laden biases, which in turn disallow al ternative visions, viewpoints and epistemologies to be heard. Spivak (1988) suggests that indeed, many erudite voices are spoken from the South, yet few are heard. Shiva (1989; 2008), in turn, exposes the different knowledges and practices of Western scien tists and local practitioners in India, often with dire consequences for residents and particularly for the women. In order to inform Western scientists with a methodological toolkit, which is more applicable and appropriate for alternative epistemologic al visions and practices, Schmink (1999), Rocheleau, Slayter and Wangari (1999) along with Chambers ( 1997) argue for methods that have a stance, which aligns itself more with feminist political ecology and I add experiential learning and evocative ethnogra phy. Like the Norwegian philospher Arne Naess explained, ethics follow from how we experience the world (1989: 20). Thus, it is the experience that I wish to highlight through a theoretical and methodological intervention that I offer called evocative et hnography. I hope to
274 contribute to this conversation a framework that highlights an Anthropology of the Senses through videography and haptic imagery since, as Marks explains in the Skin of the Film like memories, images are multisensory, and cinema [i.e ., videography] uses its audiovisual menas to build around memoriessmell with sound, texture with memory (2000: 71). Pedagogy in Practice: Importance for U.S. and other Overdeveloped Countries An underlying focus of this research has been on the transmis sion of ideas and practices and therein on pedagogy. The evocation of the practitioners, the spirits, the environmental elements, and the relationships with spirits and nature, hopefully evoke a feeling for the issues (the problems as well as the solutions ) rather than merely retaining a cognitive assessment of the situation. Pedagogy and education that are experiential, sensorial and personally relevant are critical in this endeavor to improve communication and collaboration among different stakeholders. Thus, a substantial aspect of my work encompasses improving methodological and pedagogical techniques, so that diverse conceptualizations can be better translated for distinct audiences. For instance, I employ visual techniques (including cognitive methods [or visually mapping conceptions], photography, videography, and sound recordings) to study the meanings of nature and corresponding human behaviors for Yoruba practitioners in Cuba. These experiential ways of learning are vital to the endeavor of underst anding Yoruba conceptualizations of nature, and work well in and especially outside of the classroom to teach natural sciences. In terms of the applicability for projects, I suggest that conservationists and development practitioners might take into consi deration experiential learning to more intimately understand nature (e .g., Louv 2008, Roszak et al. 1995). They might also consider what Callicott 1997 and Seed 1988 separately propose: an environmental ethics that includes not only diverse
275 perspectives, b ut also diverse beings (physical, ancestral, spiritual, animal, plant and human) as interconnected parts of a greater community all of whom deserve respect. Lastly, if we allow for greater biocultural and religious diversity, we (scientists and scholars) d o not have to pretend to have an insular and self righteous stance on knowledge production, and we might recognize the value of sharing with others in a conversation that hopefully can make more equitable decisions on policies that affect the world with le ss discrimination. In this vein, Yorb ecological knowledge and ways of knowing nature may be pertinent for United States, European and other Northern countries education systems of nature, since many are suffereing from a lack of environmental education that helps students feel connected (Louv 2008; Bateson 2002; Sewall 1999; Roszak 2001) In order to bring an understanding of African-derived ecological knowledge to a conversation of conservation I assert that the categories used in the discussion should not only rely on empirical, positivist science perspectives. By this I mean, that ash and ori shas should also be integrated into a discussion of the environment along with other more locally significant ways of knowing. Future Research Future research I hope would involve videography and expression of different stakeholders (including natural s cientists, religious practitioners, scholars, and residents) interpretations of the problems and the solutions in Matanzas, Cuba. Then, through group watching of the videos and focus groups of examining them, a collaborative partnership could be created th at fills in some of the gaps of knowledge, and merges perspectives and understanding. Conversations in which people who have overlapping epistemologies as well as contrasting ones could begin to understand how to integrate these divergent and nested levels of convergence. For instance, conservationists could work specifically with Osainistas who are not only learned in the
276 herbs and forests, but go regularly to the rural areas of the city, and hold tremendous influence with their numerous ahijados or relig ious children. This accomplishment could have far reaching effects as an analysis on their social networks is bound to reveal. Indeed, Cuba (along with Bahia, Brazil) is associated with the "authentic" Yoruba religion of the diaspora. This means that Venez uelans, Miamians and New Yorkans travel2 regularly to Cuba to learn religious knowledge and get initiated, and Cuban santeros and babalawos travel to many locations to initiate (i.e., instruct their religious families in Yorb knowledge). For instance, on my trip over to the island in 2006, I talked with the young man who was seated next to me. He was flying with his father. Though the son was currently living in Jacksonville, his father still lived in New York City. They were both going to Cuba to do some Orisha work. The son was initiated Elegua and was proud to claim a wooden Elegua that he had. When I went to visit a babalawo, he had a friend babalawo come over and with his friend was an entourage of his ahijados One had come in from Venezuela where he is currently living. Two Italian men were being initiated at a bemb my first night there. Thus, various and dynamic manifestations of Yoruba diaspora practitioners are located in Brazil, Venezuela, New York, Florida, Nigeria, Benin, and multiple other ci ties around the globe. The social networks and patterns of knowledge transmission should be examined better to be able to understand how to include Yoruba ecological knowledge and practices in improved collaborations in conversations of conservation. To re iterate my conclusion, I hope that this research aids in creating a collective imaginary of humans, natures and their relationships, which may in the near future be collaboratively 2 These exchanges are also where the lines get blurry between folklore for sale and the consumption of the religion for tourists, and dedicated practitioners from different continents coming to Cuba to make their ties to their religion have more depth.
277 created and shared by Cuban scientists, Lucum practitioners, the Cuban government and international organizations to be able to work together to envision and co create a Cuban future (Holmes 2008). In concert, I hope that these lessons and expressions may be understood and implemented internationally within pedagogical strategie s and conservation and development policies Figure 10 1. A sign on a Cuban building that asserts With our ideas towards the FUTURE.
278 APPENDIX A FREELISTS FOR NATURE AND SPIRITUALITY COM PILED #One33m tree spiking tree forts nudlittes Marjorie Douglas Eco -defense Crossings of trees Transmogrifications Spirit walking sojourns Cypress gnomes Tree gremlins human destruction pristine old growths Deep ecology Natural knowing #Two21mmethodist feelings of enchantment mood changing clears the m ind provokes thought and emotion empowering gives true sense of existence and what is real rejuvenation life cycle #Eight30f pan pan the goat man bushes ocean like a great organism trees banyan oaks rewoods shamanism dynamic balance caring for the earth relaxing refreshment rejuvenation fruit white zapote borojo araz rollinio guanabana
279 clouds nebulous hiking running rockclimbing yoga lying by a river swimming in a mountain lake and lying in the sun seeing that mountains other side mountains red roots mopraceae peyote ayahuasca san pedro mescaline freedom and love chaos gaia eros #Four24mmethodist Jesus God Life Beauty Good and Evil Predator and prey Love Forgiveness Human and hell Angelic songs Sacrifice #five.three24male faith intangible harmony peace co -existence hope caring amazon enlightenment drugs #Five24magnostic Beauty Peacefulness
280 Balance Harmony Equilibrium #Six30mmuslim Supreme being God Nature connected with spirituality #Seven19finternational Religion Faith in God Bible Pray daily Ask god for guidance and wisdom Trees Green colors Natural fragrances Live living #Eight20fchristian Jesus Christ God Trees Personal relationship with God Repentance Grass Sun setting over the horizon Animals Jungle Bugs Waterfalls Bible Church Religion Birth of jesus Christ Christmas Preacher Decons Choir Gospel music No relationship human destruction #Twelve21mchristian prayer church God Jesus
281 Savior Grace peace Heaven Hell Cross Comfortable Powerful Mom Dad Love Sunday Long walks Freedom #Ten22fspirituality trees peace sense of self grounding happiness animals love joy meditation hope healing sky green calm spirit soul light enlightenment center inner being #Eleven?mbaha?i Native Americans Smoking sessions in teepees At one with animals and plants Buddhism Meditation Calm Serenity Environmental conservation Symbolism of animals or plants for human emotions or qualitites Societal detachments, retreat into ancient origins of humanity
282 #Twelve22fhindu God Praying Trees Animals Ocean Wind Fire Soul Spirit Love Joy Healing Forest Birds Calm Relaxed sleep #Thirteen22mChristian related God created God glory #Fourteen20mChristian Beach Sunset God Prayer Depth Flow Belonging to God Ebb Retraction Reflection Out turning Peace Fitting Growth Origins Honesty Apology Purpose Intricacy Integrals Interaction Return Responsibility
283 Ownership Humility Perspective #Fifteen19fChristian evidence and faithfulness of God beauty meditation place to find yourself connecting with them you understand yourself connection taken for granted powerful order inspiration #Sixteen20mChristian god peace green devotion adventure connection oneness love purity trees fulfillment meaning hope happiness instinct longing sight beauty #Seventeen21mChristianAsian peace quiet act of freedom air time sound bright outside new leaves tree life #Eighteen26mChristianLatino
284 water Enya Drums Raccoons Bugs Mosquitos Snow Birds nest Sex in the woods Earthworms Beach Sand Cool wind Seashells Little waves in toes #nineteen20mChristianCau Jesus God Trees Cliffs Mountains Birds Love Hare krishnas Paul John Preaching Holy Spirit The Passion of Christ Movie about Christ Lakes Fish #Twenty22mChristian God Jesus Holy Spirit Tree Grass Animals Water Rough Aggression Love Cycle Time Transformation
285 Revelation Skin Cold #2165fLutheran Life Trees Sky Birds Animals Water Friendship Love Caring
286 APPENDIX B PILESORT LIST OF NATURE AND SPIRITUALITY Responsibility Flow Environmental Consequences Beach Center Faith Beauty Life God Jesus Fish Lakes Sex in the Woods Bugs Cliffs Sunset Green Meditation Waterfall Shamans Drums Jungle Animals Prayer Harmony Healing Yoga Enlightenment Hiking Running Balance Mountains Deep Ecology Lying by a River Christianity Connection
287 APPENDIX C LIST OF PILE SORT WORDS: WATER 1. vida 1. Life 2. comunicacin 2. Communication 3. alimentacin 3. Nourishment 4. ro 4. River 5. mar 5. Ocean 6. misterio 6. Mystery 7. madre universal 7. Universal Mother 8. Oshun 8. Oshun 9. Yemay 9. Yemaya 10. Chang 10. Chango 11. t rueno 11. Thunder 12. relajamiento 12. Relaxation 13. Santa Barbara 13. St. Barbara 14. miedo 14. Fear 15. tranquilidad 15. Tranquility 16. importante 16. Important 17. necesario 17. Necessary 18. hygiene 18. Hygiene 19. paz 19. Peace 20. todo 20. Everything 21. la playa 21. Beach 22. contemplacin 22. Contemplation 23. alegra 23. Happiness 24. fundamental 24. Fundamental
288 25. Caridad del Cobre 25. Virgen of Charity of Cobre 26. Virgen de Regla 26. Virgen of the Regla 27. riqueza 27. Richness 28. tesoro 28. Treasure 29. sagrado 29. Sacred 30. magico 30. Magic 31. tiburones 31. Sharks 32. peligro 32. Danger 33. profundidad 33. Profundity 34. agricultura 34. Agriculture 35. util 35. Useful 36. fregar 36. To wash 37. alimento espritual 37. Spiritual alimentation 38. electricidad 38. Electricity 39. respeto 39. Respect 40. amor 40. Love
289 APPENDIX D JULY 2004 SEMI -SRUCTURED INTERVIEW QUESTIONS (ENGLISH) 1. What is nature? 2. Is there a diference between humans and nature? 3. What should the relationship be between humans and nature? 4. How do you relate with nature? 5. What are the orishas? 6. What is ash? 7. If there is not a trashcan nearby, and you have an empty plastic bottle in hand, what do you do? 8. What and Who is Osain? 9. Is there a magical -spiritual aspect to nature? 10. Is there a relationship between nature and mental health? 11. Do you cultivate plants? 12. Of what materials do you make your offerings that you leave by the trees, by the rivers and the ocean? 13. H ow have you learned about the orishas and nature? How have you learned the songs, the rhythms, the herbs and how to communicate with them?
290 APPENDIX E PREGUNTAS DE ENTREVISTA (ESPAOL) 1. Qu es la naturaleza? 2. Hay una diferencia entre los seres hum anos y la naturaleza? 3. Que debe ser la realacin entre los seres humanos y naturaleza? 4. Como realaciona Ud. con la naturaleza/ medio ambiente? 5. Qu son los orichas? 6. Qu es el ach? 7. Si no hay un basurero cerca, y tienes una botella de plstico e n mano, que hace? 8. Qu y quien es Osain? 9. Hay un aspecto magico -espiritual de la naturaleza? 10. Hay una relacin entre la naturaleza y la salud mental? 11. Cultiva Ud. plantas? 12. De que materials hace los ofrendas que deja a lado de los rboles, al lado de los ros, y al mar? 13. Como ha aprendido acerca de los orichas y la naturaleza? Y como aprendido los cantos, los ritmos, las hierbas, y como comunicarse con ellos? Sociode mographic Questions For Interviews C aractersticas socio -demogrf ic os : Fecha: __________________________ 1. N ombre ______________________ 2. A pellidos _________________________ 3. Sobrenombre _________________ 4. Nivel de educacin _____________________ 5. Sexo ____________________________ 6. Ocupacin ___________________________ 7. Telfono _________________________ 8. Direccin ____________________________ 9. Correo electrnico __________________ ______________________________________ 10. Lugar de nacimiento________________ 11. Lugar donde ha vivido __________________ 12. E dad _________________________ 13. Origen de sus antepasados_______________________ 14. Religin que practica _________________________ 15. Cuantos aos lleva e n esta religin? _____ 16a. Se ha hecho santo? ________ b. Cuando? ____________ c. Cual orisha? __________ 17a. Otros miembros de su familia se han hecho santo? ____ 17b. Quines? b.Que santo? y c.Hace cuanto tiempo?___________________________________________ 18. Como aprendi su religin?________________________________________________
291 19. Cuantas generaciones de su familia ha n vivido aqu en Cuba ? ______________________ 20a. Desde donde vienen sus padres? _________________ b. Abuelos?______________ c. Bisabuelos ? ___________________ d. Tatarabuelos ? _______________________ 21. Cuales eran sus religiones?_________________________________________ 22. Cuales eran sus ocupaciones? _______________________________________ 23. Ha y otra cosa que le gustara comentar? Por favor podra escribir todo lo que viene a su mente cuando piensa en El Monte. Qu podra contarme acerca del monte, las hierbas y los palos? Podra Ud. escribir lo que viene a su mente cuando piensa en los problemas del medio ambiente ms importantes en Matanzas. Cuales considera Ud. que son los principales problemas ambientales aqu. Cuales podran ser las soluciones para esos pro blemas.
292 APPENDIX F CODE BOOK FOR TEXT ANALYSIS OF INTERVIEWS # Color: Includes: Explanation: 1. Themes, notes, terms, words, everything 2. My questions, points What is nature What is the nature, human relationship Y como aprendio ud las proiedades de las plantas? 3. Environmental behaviors 4. Santo, santero, orisha Anything to do religion, spirits 5. Ser humano 6. Nature Anything to do with biophysical nature 7. Animals, bugs, birds 8. Ecology The interaction or relationships 9. Osain When Osain is mentioned specifically 10. Aprender Learning, transmission Osvaldo p 1. [Aprendi] trabajando con las plantas. .. 11. Subjectivity, agency of plants 12. Cantar Chants 13. Christianity, Jesus 14. Respeto 15. Poder Cocimiento Sembrar vs Silvestre Misterio Necesitamos
293 APPENDIX G LIST OF OPEN ENDED QUESTIONS: DEVELOPMENT AND FUTURE Name, age. 1. Tell me about your childhood. 2. Tell me about your life now (job, family, kids) 3. Do you follow a religion or philosophy of life? Explain. 4. What does development mean for you? 5. What are the most serious problems (environmental and other) here. (Cuba, Matanzas, Havana, Alamar) 6. How can these be fixed? 7. What can you do to help? 8. How do you see the future? 9. How would you like to see the future? 10. What does it mean to you to be Cuban? 11. What are the most important dates for you? Nov Dec 2006 Nombre, fecha de nac i mi ento 1 tell me about your youth a from where are are your parents, grandparents, greatgreatparents b your life 2 tell me about your present life a occupation, married, kids, life 3 Do you follow a religion or philosophy of life? Tell me about your beliefs. 4 What is development for you? 5 Which are the biggest problems here? 6 Which are the best solutions? 7 What can you and your family do about them? 8 a. How do you see the future? b.How would you like to see the future for the next generations of Cubans? 9 What does it mean to be Cuban for you? 10. What are the most important dates for you/ the country? 11. Anything youd like to express 12. Any questions you would like to ask?
294 APPENDIX H CONSERVATION PRACTICES (INDIVIDUAL PRACTICES OF CONSERVATION) Positive + : ensenar nino (amar naturaleza) conservar vida peces sembrar nuevos frutos/arboles conservar/adorar medio ambiente cuidar parques/jardines regar plantas fabricas lejos de la ciudad podar arboles, plantas cresca vegetacion preservar limpieza utiliza basurero mantenr limpio entorno recogida basura estatal protesta y participacion social cuidar las plantas cuidar el fauna cuida el agua proteger las plantas ahorrarla encontrar metodos para conservar agua potable hygiene reciclo paper reciclo latas en sus envases por separado
295 __Negative : no usar objetos toxicos quimicos no echar papeles al piso no dana, ensucia medio ambiente proteger capa ozono no echar basura no ensuciar paredes no ensuciar pesos no tirar basurero al piso no pisar planta no escribir en paredes no fumar!!! no hacer ruido mu y fuerte no hago ruidos innecesario no echo desechos al mar no echo desechos al rio talar arboles guerras contaminacion, destruction no ensuciar la playa no talar arboles no contaminar playas evitar social contaminacion no contamina mar no contamina calle s no botar basura evitar contaminacion no compro aerosols no contaminar ninguna fuente natural preciado liquido
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325 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH She is a learner and a teacher, a dancer with the elements of life and an adventurer seeking to find creativ e solutions through community. She was raised in Florida, and has traveled extens ively in Europe, Latin America, the Caribbe an, and North and West Africa. She speak s Spanish and French, which aids in her endeavor to learn from people who follow alternative knowledge systems, particularly those that integrate nature, spirituality and ex periential learning. She finished her doctorate at the University of Florida in Anthropology with concentrations in Visual and Ecological Anthropology, Religion and Nature and Tropical Conservation and Development. During that time, she integrated alternative pedagogical strategies into the class she taught, which she inherited from Dr. Tony Oliver -Smith: ANT 4403 Environment and Cultural Behavior. These techniques included experiential learning, self directed (therein personally relevant) scholarsh ip student led discussions, and collaborative ventures. She has a lso worked at the Farmer s Market throughout her time as a doctoral student, attempting to understand grassroots -based economies, local food systems, and fair trade practices Her research and her life focus on spiritual ecology, crafting evocative documentaries and creating community (particularly throu gh food, movement and music). She hopes her future research will continue this path of collaborative and transformational learning.
WHO IS NATURE?: YORB RELIGION AND ECOLOGY IN CUBA Amanda D. Concha Holmes 352 336 9242 Anthropology Dr. Faye Harrison Anthropology May 2010 Scholars must find culturally appropriate methods to interpret African ecological knowledges in order to improve our understanding of shifting multisited multivocal and multisensorial landscapes, especially concerning human/nature relationships. I use embodiment as a critical concept for African diaspora scholarship, and including the use of videography as a tool to access and evoke African diaspora ecological knowledge. My study of Yorb religion and Osain (deity of the sacred forests, herbs and heali ngs) reveal an embodied understanding of nature through which the boundaries of subjects as well as material and spiritual get collapsed and traversed through specialized communication techniques. Ways of knowing through invocations, praise poetry, music a nd dance are essential to nearly all Yorb ritual in which spiritual forces are actualized evoking and thus invoking spirit into human form. To improve representation or, more importantly, evocation of this form of understanding human/nature relationships I employ video i Development became a topic of primary relevance during the 1940s, initially to address the devastation of the Second World War (Escobar 1995; Harrison 2001). Hence, global financial institutions based out of the United States of America were created (i. e., the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund) (Chambers 1997; Escobar 1995). Soon after, the United States and other westernized countries promoted development with the purpose of increasing industrialization, economic motivation and material p roduction (specifically for export to the developed or already industrialized and modernized countries) (Deere et al.1990).