In this intimate ethnography, Raquel Romberg seeks to illuminate the performative significance of healing rituals and magic works, their embodied nature, and their effectiveness in transforming the states of participants by focusing on the visible, albeit mostly obscure, ways in which healing and magic rituals proceed. The questions posed by Romberg emerge directly from the particular pragmatics of Puerto Rican brujeria (witch-healing), shaped by the eclecticism of its rituals, the heterogeneous character of its participants, and the heterodoxy of its moral economy.
What, if any, is the role of belief in magic and healing rituals? How do past discourses on possession enter into the performative experience of ritual in the here and now? Where does belief stop, and where do memories of the flesh begin? While these are questions that philosophers and anthropologists of religion ponder, they acquire a different meaning when asked from an ethnographic perspective.
Written in an evocative, empathetic style, with theoretical ruminations about performance, the senses, and imagination woven into stories that highlight the drama and humanity of consultations, this book is an important contribution to the cross-cultural understanding of our capacity to experience the transcendental in corporeal ways.
"One of the best works I've ever read on spiritual healing... [It] may well become a classic text in the anthropology of religion."oPaul Stoller, Professor of Anthropology, West Chester University of Pennsylvania
Preface. After Eight Years; Acknowledgments; Introduction. Healing Dramas; Chapter One. A Flight Perfected at Death: Mimetic Memories of a Brujo; Chapter Two. Dreams; Chapter Three. Drama; Chapter Four. Spiritual Time; Chapter Five. The Sentient Body; Chapter Six. Space; Epilogue. A Farewell Trabajo; Notes; References; Index;