Image of the Day – Santería

Continuing the theme of religious practices in the Americas, today’s image focuses on the Cuban practice of Santería. Like Candomblé, Santería has its roots in Western African religious beliefs and practices that slaves brought with them to Cuba in the slave trade, and practitioners of Santería provide offerings to the spirits. Unlike Candomblé, however, Santería is syncretic, bringing in elements of Catholicism into its practices. Orishas (“orixás” in Candomblé) are also a key component of Santería, and altars are often dedicated to both saints and orishas, resulting in a parallel religiosity in which Catholicism and Santería co-exist instead of competing. Many priests and priestesses (“santeros” and “santeras,” from which Santería gets its name) are even baptized in the Catholic church. Additionally, divination plays a greater role in Santería than in Candomblé.

A santero practices divination using cowrie shells, a key practice in Santería.

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About Colin M. Snider

I have a Ph.D. in history, specializing in Latin American History and Comparative Indigenous History. My dissertation focused on Brazil. Beyond Latin America generally, I'm particularly interested in class identities, military politics, human rights, labor, education, music, and nation. I can be found on Twitter at @ColinMSnider.
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