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Divine Utterances

Divine Utterances

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Written by Katherine J. HagedornAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Katherine J. Hagedorn

  • Format: Trade Paperback, 312 pages
  •  
  • Publisher: Smithsonian Books
  • On Sale: August 17, 2001
  • Price: $24.95
  • ISBN: 978-1-56098-947-9 (1-56098-947-5)
about this book

In Divine Utterances, Katherine J. Hagedorn explores the enduring cultural and spiritual power of the music of Afro-Cuban Santería and the process by which it has been transformed for a secular audience. She focuses on the integral connections between sacred music performances and the dramatizations of theatrical troupes, especially the state-sponsored Conjunto Folklórico Nacional de Cuba, and examines the complex relationships involving race, politics, and religion in Cuba. The music that Hagedorn describes is rooted in Afro-Cuban religious tradition and today pervades secular performances that can produce a trance in audience members in the same way as a traditional religious ceremony.

Hagedorn’s analysis is deeply informed by her experiences in Cuba as a woman, scholar, and apprentice batá drummer. She argues that constructions of race and gender, the politics of pre- and post-Revolutionary Cuba, the economics of tourism, and contemporary practices within Santería have contributed to a blurring of boundaries between the sacred and the folkloric. As both modes now vie for primacy in Cuba’s burgeoning tourist trade, what had once been the music of a marginalized group is now a cultural expression of national pride.

The compact disc that accompanies the book includes examples of twenty songs to the orichas, or Afro-Cuban deities, performed by prominent musicians, including Lázaro Ros, Francisco Aguabella, Alberto Villarreal, and Zenaida Armenteros.

“A highly original work . . . that will stand out as the most thorough exploration of Santería music performance, both religious and theatrical.”–Raul Fernández, University of California, Irvine