By Samiri Hernández Hiraldo

Loiza is a Puerto Rican city recognized for most sensible representing the African traditions, a group of a generally black inhabitants tormented by profound racial discrimination and poverty. yet many Loiza citizens strongly establish themselves in non secular phrases, strategically handling their person, familial, gender, generational, neighborhood, nationwide, and racial identities via a religious prism that successfully is helping them focus on and rework their tough reality.

Based on three hundred and sixty five days of fieldwork, this research exhibits how believers adventure their faith in its quite a few dimensions. Writing as a local ethnographer, the writer deals the private spiritual histories of lots of Loiza’s citizens, a few of whom she follows northward to the us as they re-create local and political obstacles. Hernández Hiraldo performs the position of player observer, a social scientist with affection for her matters, who shared an important facets in their religious lives along with her. Her narratives display an strangely nuanced knowing of the function of religion within the lives of Loiza’s people.
Arguing that realizing and respecting the facility of faith during this group is vital to addressing and remedying its social difficulties, Hernández Hiraldo contests the characterization of Puerto Rico as a culturally homogenous kingdom with a monolithic church. She analyzes the altering nature of Catholicism at the island and the demanding situations it faces from the community’s different denominations, particularly the Pentecostal church buildings, lots of that are suffering to maintain their congregations. 

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3 This point was confirmed many times during my research when I felt “othered by the other” (using Juan Flores’s expression, 2000: 21–22), when Loízans demanded as many answers to their questions as I demanded answers to mine. By sharing with Loízans the many experiences included in this chapter, I was able to confirm Spickard’s (2002: 240) conclusions that when a researcher reveals herself she is better able to know the research participants. I also confirmed the fabrication of otherness on the many occasions I caught myself having an intolerant, critical response to the Christian experience when I participated in a Hare Krishna meeting, a puja (a Hindu ritual celebration), or a Muslim service.

I was expecting these findings to make my study more interesting. At the same time, I share concerns similar to Scherer’s (2001: 164) about scholars ignoring Chinese identity and religion in Cuba. As a result, I want to respond particularly to a disproportionate obsession with Afro–Puerto Rican religion in Loíza and also to a tendency to limit black experience to the study of Afro-religions when a majority of Loízans practice various versions of Christianity (with some Afro-religious aspects). 2 “If God were black, my friend .

Similarly, Camayd-Freixas (1997) sees the Mita cult, centered on a female prophet and originating in Puerto Rico in the 1940s, as responding to or protesting against a national sense of orphanhood while vindicating subordinate women. In relation to the tendencies just described in studies of Puerto Rican religion, it is hard to ignore Craig’s (1982) observation that the nature of Caribbean studies has been typically conceptualized in terms of rigid characterizations. Along the same lines, Brusco (1995: 4) has indicated that conceptualizing religion at the macro social and political levels, while forgetting the multidimensional information and experience of individuals, has been characteristic of many studies of religion in Latin America.

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