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Open Access Ritual Piracy or Creolization with an Attitude

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Ritual Piracy or Creolization with an Attitude

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image of New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids

Discusses a renewed view on "creolization", in relation to the Caribbean's social and cultural history. Author first points at the different creolization theories, noting a recurrence in these of the concepts of "mixture", "creative mixture", or "dialogue" between cultures, and describes how such "harmonious mix" views of creolization influenced forms of nationalism and nation building in the Caribbean, thereby blurring inequalities. She, however, points at the unequal power relations, or "contentious constitution", historically involved in creolization processes, with hegemonic (cultural and religious) colonial power over and against so-called superstitious or other vernacular interpretations. With a specific focus on late-19th c. creolization processes in urban slave and highland peasant-Maroon societies in Puerto Rico, she further shows how vernacular, magical religions and folk healing rechanneled hegemonic religious symbols, like the cross, to purposes other than those intended by the Church. She calls this a form of "ritual piracy", including tactical mimicry, representing thus subversion from within, but with maintained relations to the hegemonic, complicating the "resistance" aspect.

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