In a Riveting First-Person Account, Todd Ramon Ochoa offers the first Fully detailed treatment of the world of Palo, a Kongo-inspired" society of affiction" at the margins of Cuban popular religion. Narrated as an encounter with two teachers of Palo, the book unfolds on the outskirts of Havana as it recounts Ochoa's attempts to come to terms with a world in which everyday events and materials are composed of the dead. Ochoa discovers in Palo unexpected resources for understanding the relationship between matter and spirit, for rethinking anthropology's rendering of sorcery, and for representing the play of power in Cuban society.
"Todd Ramon Ochoa's important text immediately transposes us into a Kongo-Cuban sacred world of summoned ancestral forces---Lucero, Sarabanda, Mama Chola, et al. Ochoa makes clear that Palo is a world faith with all the depth, narrative excitement, and cultural vitality that such a status implies. I enthusiastically recommend this book." author of Tango: The Art History of Love and Aesthetic of the Cool
"Evocative and masterfully written. I could hardly put the book down. It's sure to be a necessary text in any course on Afro-diasporic religions, Caribbean theology, and ethnographic method and writing." author of Rara!: Vodou, Power, and Performance in Haiti and Its Diaspora
"This is a singular achievement and will provide the first throughgoing account on Palo in English, written with a keen ethnographic sensibility, but much more broadly accessible---poetic and lucid, interpretive and grounded, challenging and engaging." University of California, Santa Cruz
"Society of the Dead is an intensive, close-up picture of African religion and healing in Cuba. Ochoa's unique relationship to master practitioners of Santerfa and Palo provides an immediacy to his depiction and new insight." author of Ngoma: Discourses of Healing in Central and Southern Africa