Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
In Cuba, emergent circulations between Cuba and contemporary Yor�b�land, Nigeria are transforming the landscape of gender, belief, and state religious policy. This project examines this reencounter through the lens of the controversial Yorubization – or re-Yorubization – of the religions of Regla de Ocha, also known as Santeria, and If�. Through an ethnography of affective belonging and emancipatory desire in Havana, Santiago de Cuba, and the provinces of Holgu�n, Ciego de �vila, and Guant�namo, this work examines how “African Traditionalists” mobilize select aspects of the Yor�b� Traditional Religion (YTR) and Yor�b� language of Nigeria in order to circumvent Cuban prohibitions regarding gender and carve out novel spaces of religious autonomy and authority. Through a critical examination of the intersections of aurality and predications of Africanity in Nigerian-style If�-�r�şa, this work interrogates the ways in which women and men craft sound and listening in order to reshape gendered subjectivities and reconstitute the boundaries of �r�ṣ� worship in Cuba. In the realm of gender, which constitutes the most polemical break between Nigerian-style If�-�r�ṣ� and Cuban-style Regla de Ocha-If�, women have carved out access to the previously-prohibited tambores de a�a, or consecrated bat� drum set. Additionally, women break the gendered boundaries and taboos against female participation in If� by "speaking If�” as �y�n�f�, or divining priestesses. In the Il�-Ifẹ̀-rooted Aworeni lineage in Havana, the “�r�b� of Cuba” and other babal�wos (priests) mobilize the recently-imported d�nd�n "talking drums" of Yor�b�land as a means to “re-Yorubize” Cuban If� and to promote the spread of Nigerian-rooted institutions in Cuba. In eastern Baracoa and western Havana, all-male Eg�ng�n masquerade is additionally gaining prominence as a Yor�b�-inspired means of worshiping and "working with" the dead. This project interrogates how various forms of engagement with sound and listening inform – and, often, constitute – central practices of assertion for practitioners of Nigerian-style If�-�r�ṣ� in Cuba. In a larger sense, this project points to the ongoing ways in which the contemporary African continent continues to influence and transform the landscape of gender and belief in contemporary Cuba.
Meadows, Ruth, "Ifá Tradicional Nigeriano: The Polemics Of “re-Yorubized” Spirituality In Cuban Sound" (2017). Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations. 2468.