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Governing Man-Gods: Spiritism and the Struggle for Progress in Republican Cuba

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image of Journal of Religion in Africa

This article explores the contrasting careers of two Spiritist healers, one Spanish-born and the other Afro-Cuban. It suggests that the prosecution of the black man-god (Hilario Mustelier) and the public celebration of the ministry of the Spaniard (Juan Manso) attest to the consolidation of a political rationality burgeoning in Cuba at the turn of the twentieth century. Under this regime, government officials and journalists sought to alter the conditions that gave rise to 'fanaticism' to promote the modernization of the nascent republic. Following a discussion of the notions of race and culture underpinning Cuban discourses of progress, the article offers a critique of the scholarly literature dealing with Afro-Cuban religions and syncretism.

Affiliations: 1: The University of Georgia, History Department, LeConte Hall, Athens, GA 30602-1602, USA


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