In a riveting first-person account, Todd Ramon Ochoa explores Palo, a Kongo-inspired 'society of affliction' that is poorly understood at the margins of Cuban popular religion. Narrated as an encounter with two teachers of Palo, the book unfolds on the outskirts of Havana as it recounts Ochoa's attempts to assimilate Palo praise of the dead. As he comes to terms with a world in which everyday events and materials are composed of the dead, Ochoa discovers in Palo unexpected resources for understanding the relationship between matter and spirit, for rethinking anthropology's rendering of sorcery, and for representing the play of power in Cuban society. The first fully detailed treatment of the world of Palo, "Society of the Dead" draws upon recent critiques of Western metaphysics as it reveals what this little known practice can tell us about sensation, transformation, and redemption in the Black Atlantic.
Todd Ramon Ochoa is a cultural anthropologist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Acknowledgments Introduction Part One. The Dead 1. Isidra 2. Kalunga, the Ambient Dead 3. Little Corners 4. Responsive Dead Part Two. Palo Society 5. Emilio O'Farril 6. Teodoro 7. Palo Society 8. Decay 9. A Feast Awry 10. Virtudes Part Three. Prendas-Ngangas-Enquisos 11. Lucero Mundo 12. The Cauldron 13. Reckoning with the Dead 14. Nfumbe 15. Insinuation and Artifice Part Four. Palo Craft 16. Struggle Is Praise 17. Cristianas 18. Judias 19. Tormenta Ndoki 20. Storms of Lent Conclusion Notes Bibliography Index