Water is often tasked with upholding division through the imposition of geopolitical borders. We see this in the construction of the Rio Grande/Río Bravo on the US-Mexico border, as well as in how the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean are used to delineate the limits of US territory. In stark contrast to this divisive view, Afro-diasporic religions conceive of water as a place of connection; it is where spiritual entities and ancestors reside, and where knowledge awaits.
Departing from the premise that water encourages confluence through the sustainment of contradiction, Channeling Knowledges fathoms water's depth and breadth in the work of Latinx and Caribbean creators such as Mayra Santos-Febres, Rita Indiana, Gloria Evangelina Anzaldúa, and the Border of Lights collective. Combining methodologies from literary studies, anthropology, history, and religious studies, Rebeca L. Hey-Colón's interdisciplinary study traces how Latinx and Caribbean cultural production draws on systems of Afro-diasporic worship—Haitian Vodou, La 21 División (Dominican Vodou), and Santería/Regla de Ocha—to channel the power of water, both salty and sweet, in sustaining connections between past, present, and not-yet-imagined futures.
Rebeca L. Hey-Colón is an assistant professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Temple University.
Hey-Colón beautifully lays out the multilayered spiritual significance of water in the work of Afro-diasporic and/or Latinx artists, drawing on highly complex Afro-diasporic/Caribbean belief systems. This superb book is a pleasure to read.
~Andrea Morris, Louisiana State University, author of Migrant and Tourist Encounters: The Ethics of Im/mobility in 21st Century Dominican and Cuban Cultures
Through a deep and careful study of Afro-syncretic ritual practices, Puerto Rican poetics, Dominican literary fiction, Chicana archives, and Haitian and Dominican remembrance practices, Hey-Colón ushers us into the expansive possibilities of water as sanctuary, techno-resonance, and regeneration. A moving contribution to the study of Latina texts and spiritual practices, Channeling Knowledges offers a necessary entryway into a set of systems, practices, and imaginations that unsettle facile understandings of Afro-diasporic worldviews in contemporary Caribbean and Latinx cultural and social productions and, in so doing, reveal critical aspects of our entwined futures.
~Yomaira Figueroa-Vásquez, Michigan State University, author of Decolonizing Diasporas: Radical Mappings of Afro-Atlantic Literature
A fascinating work. Hey-Colón makes a significant contribution through her centering of Afro-diasporic knowledges and encourages readers to think more broadly about who and what is signaled under the umbrella of Latinidad. Hey-Colón’s expertise comes through with poise and confidence.
~Christina Garcia Lopez, University of San Francisco, author of Calling the Soul Back: Embodied Spirituality in Chicanx Narrative
Hey-Colón’s approach to water is expansive and groundbreaking, as the book engages with saltwaters and freshwaters, unsettling the disciplinary boundaries that have traditionally linked these bodies of water to either Caribbean or Latinx Studies . . . As such, Channeling Knowledges, which is part of the "Latinx: The Future Is Now" series run by the University of Texas Press, represents a crucial and timely contribution to Afrolatinx, Caribbean, Border, and Religious Studies.
Channeling Knowledges successfully explores Afro-diasporic spirituality in literary worlds that pull us into Olokun’s depths, while it elevates the intellectual, artistic, and activist labor of Latina/x and Caribbean writers.
Prologue. Infusing the Sacred: The Liquid Knowledges of the Afro-Diasporic World
Chapter 1. Channeling the Undocumented in Mayra Santos-Febres’s boat people
Chapter 2. The Techno-Resonances of Rita Indiana’s La mucama de Omicunlé
Chapter 3. Afro-Diasporic Currents in the Gloria Evangelina Anzaldúa Papers
Chapter 4. Orishas in the Borderlands
Epilogue. Water and Light: The Bóveda as Counter-Archive
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