Developing the Dead: Mediumship and Selfhood in Cuban Espiritismo

Diana Espírito Santo


“Peels back the layers to explore what Spiritist practice is really about: a project of self-fashioning that challenges Western suppositions about the nature of the self, the body, and its relationship with others, living and dead.”—Kristina Wirtz, author of Ritual, Discourse, and Community in Cuban Santería: Speaking a Sacred World

“To read this book is to enter into an apparently alien world and yet find that it makes complete sense, and for that reason Developing the Dead is a model of the anthropological enterprise.”—Charles Stewart, author of Dreaming and Historical Consciousness in Island Greece

Based on extensive fieldwork among espiritistas and their patrons in Havana, this book makes the surprising claim that Spiritist practices are fundamentally a project of developing the self. Developing the Dead shows how Espiritismo’s self-making process permeates all aspects of life, not only for its own practitioners but also for those of other Afro-Cuban religions.

Diana Espírito Santo is assistant professor in social anthropology at the Institute of Sociology, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. She is coeditor of The Social Life of Spirits and Making Spirits: Materiality and Transcendence in Contemporary Religions


Everyday Religion: An Archaeology of Protestant Belief and Practice in the Nineteenth Century

Hadley Kruczek-Aaron


“A model for researching how religion shaped daily life that helps move the archaeology of religion beyond houses of worship and places of burial.”—Richard F. Veit, Digging New Jersey’s Past: Historical Archaeology in the Garden State

“Demonstrates convincingly that religious ideology—specifically a lifestyle of temperance and simplicity as advocated by evangelical Christians—was an important factor in the household consumption decisions in a small community in New York.”—Charles LeeDecker, Historic Preservation archaeologist

Everyday Religion reveals how Second Great Awakening ideals affected consumption and daily life as much as socioeconomic status, purchasing power, access to markets, and other social factors. Class, gender, ethnicity, and race further influenced the actions of devout individuals and continue to shape how the history of religion and reform is presented and commemorated today.

Hadley Kruczek-Aaron is associate professor of anthropology at the State University of New York at Potsdam.

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