Ambiguous noses and feminine affectations: Negotiating the boundaries of race and gender in Cuban Espiritismo

Alysa Ghose*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article argues that Espiritismo Cruzado practice is comprised of fluid dynamics that disrupt notions of discrete entities. The disruption of clear-cut lines means that Espiritismo Cruzado is fertile ground for creative and generative ambiguity. This ambiguity disrupts the boundaries between forms of religiosity and different religious actors, and in doing so both disrupts and reinforces broader frameworks of race and gender. My examination of Espiritismo Cruzado, a Cuban religious tradition based on communication with spirits of the dead, demonstrates how the practice's ambiguity can emerge through instances of both convergence and fractures in relationships between spirits and practitioners. Convergences and conflicts emphasize concerns regarding beauty, race, and sexuality and how spirits and practitioners are implicated in the experiences of one another. Alongside these innovations, however, practice can often end up reifying overdetermined tropes of racialized and gendered figures in the wider popular Cuban imaginary. This article highlights how the mixedness that Espiritismo Cruzado offers is neither a straightforwardly liberatory politics of enablement nor exclusively one of constraint but rather a complicated nexus of the two.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
Early online date10 Sep 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Sep 2021


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