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‘Electric Santería’ Author Explores Race, Gender, and the Politics of a Growing African-based Religion Share a Spelman College Press Release

ATLANTA (Nov. 23, 2015) -- Cultural and social anthropologist Aisha M. Beliso-aisha beliso-de jesus webDe Jesús, Ph.D., will discuss her book, “Electric Santería: Racial and Sexual Assemblages of Transnational Religion,” Monday, Nov. 23, in the Living Learning Center II at Spelman College − with a talk at 5 p.m., followed by a book signing at 6:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Dr. Beliso-De Jesús, an associate professor of African American Religions at Harvard Divinity School, has conducted ethnographic research with Santería practitioners in Cuba and the United States since 2003. In her book, she details the transnational experience of Santería, in which racialized and gendered spirits, deities, priests, and religious travelers remake local, national, and political boundaries and actively reconfigure notions of technology and transnationalism.

Santería is a syncretistic African/Roman Catholic religion widely practiced in Cuba. Dr. Beliso-De Jesús draws on her years of ethnographic research in Cuba, New York City, Miami, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay area to map the emergence and evolution of Santería. She moves beyond traditional perceptions of the religion as satanic or frightening to emphasize its depth, breadth, reach and growing appeal to people around the world.

“Dr. Beliso-De Jesús' cutting-edge work brings together African diasporic religious practices with Black feminist and queer theories,” said Erica Lorraine Williams, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology and anthropology at Spelman. “As such, ‘Electric Santería’ is relevant to Spelman’s African Diaspora and the World Program, as well as courses in sociology and anthropology, religious studies, women's studies and art history.”


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