Religious Boundaries, Caribbean Spirituality and Cultural Politics
In the special issue of Open Cultural Studies entitled “Of Sacred Crossroads-Cultural Studies and the Sacred,” published online in 2019, a cluster of authors explore religious experience, Christian theology and non-Western spirituality.
A Blog Post by Pablo Markin.
In her article on “Villains, Ghosts, and Roses, or, How to Speak with the Dead,” Sandra Huber approaches “the dead as a category that exceeds metaphysical classifications of subject and object” (15). For this, Huber deploys multiple theoretical perspectives, to deconstruct naturalistic narratives concerning “the symbolic sphere of the mystical” (15), while exploring “alternate possibilities of communication and hybridity” (15). Similarly, in their paper on “Encounters with the Other: Orientalism and Religious Feeling of a Madeiran Pilgrim, Maria Celina Câmara (1899),” Fernanda de Castro and Maria Manuel Baptista analyze late nineteenth-century travel writing work of Maria Celina de Sauvayre da Câmara, a Portuguese-Madeiran author From Naples to Jerusalem, originally published in Portuguese in 1899. De Castro and Baptista approach this travel journal in relation to its sociocultural context as a “(re)construction of the Self/Other, through a personal and sacred/profane cartography” (26).
In a comparable vein, Chantal Poch investigates acts of “Documenting Faith: [In terms of] Physical Devotion in Werner Herzog’s Pilgrimage (2001) and Wheel of Time (2003),” since the latter cinematic works by the celebrated German director thematize the dichotomy between the material and the spiritual. To achieve that, Poch concentrates on gesture as “the apparatus enabling the feeling of the sacred” (39). Likewise, Carlton J. Turner explores interrelations between African Caribbean religion and culture in his article on “Mediating the Sacred between Junkanoo and the Church in Contemporary Bahamian Society.” In an effort to shed elucidating light on Junkanoo, a Anglo-Caribbean Bahamian street festival, Turner engages in an interdisciplinary research of “African Caribbean religiocultural production” (85).
Alison Mc Letchie further contextualizes Caribbean spirituality in her paper on “La Divina Pastora, the Dougla Madonna,” which refers to the annual religious festival in Siparia, Trinidad, devoted to a black divinity sculptural figure anchoring both Catholic and Hindu religious celebrations. Mc Letchie contrasts this religious diversity and hybridity with the local “political arena where race-baiting is used to rally the electorate” (62). This is echoed in the article of Kimberley Jane Anderson and John Bolland on “Shape-shifting: TheoArtistry Poetry as Theological Action Research” that traces “a creative partnership between a theologian and a poet arranged by the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts at the University of St Andrews in 2018” (47). In this scholarly project, Anderson and Bolland not only document poetic reflections on the topic of Annunciation and Old Testament passages, but also seek to broaden “the scope of theological openness and inclusivity” (47).
By Pablo Markin
Featured Image Credits: RAM Party Inside Haiti’s Historic Hotel Oloffson, June 20, 2013 | © Courtesy of Steve Bennett/Flickr.