Peer Reviewed Article
This article aims to increase the visibility of Afro-Cuban cabildos as political mobilizations. Black cultural and religious expressions are often depoliticized through demoting and relegating them to a realm of “folklore,” and thereby isolating them in those sections of national mythology that deal solely with performance culture. Yet, this crafting of religious models and social customs that affect personal and collective identities as well as cultural and political systems deserves to be highlighted within a larger theoretical framework of cultural politics, and thereby show their relevance for citizenship and belonging. After delineating some of the historical conditions of cabildos as agents of religious and political formation, I focus specifically on the overlapping roles that practitioners hold and the mobilizing force of music and dance that cultivate subjects capable of socio-political transformations. I further explore the manifestations of this socioeconomic spiritual terrain through the case of the Cabildo of Santa Teresa, which is one of three cabildos in Cuba that has existed since the 1800s. Its primary family, Villamil, maintains fame and reputation that are internationally renowned in terms of religious practitioners, musicians, dancers, and cultural ambassadors.
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