Date of Degree

9-2021

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Sociology

Advisor

Erica Chito-Childs

Committee Members

Amy Adamczyk

Ana Ramos-Zayas

Salvador Vidal-Ortiz

Subject Categories

Gender and Sexuality | Race and Ethnicity | Sociology of Religion

Keywords

Lucumí, santería, transgender, nonbinary, spirit, legibility

Abstract

This dissertation looks at the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in Lucumí/Santería in New York City, with a focus on transgender people. This work uses qualitative interviews and ethnographic observations to look at how LGBT people navigate ritual space and people politics in Lucumí. As part of contemporary social shifts, many are seeking alternative spaces of spiritual practice and that includes LGBT people. LGBT people and trans people in particular are seeking Lucumi and being drawn in, this dissertation looks at some of these mechanisms. In addition, this dissertation looks at how home is created or not for LGBT people.

Lucumí as a practice is nuanced and often reads trans people as illegible given the larger US gender binary and the binary within Lucumí. Further, while some do not tolerate trans practitioners, the religion’s internal logics allow for a more expansive place for trans people, if there is the will to do so. This research also looks at the ways transgender as a category is complicated in the Lucumí context. How trans people including nonbinary people are/not being accommodated currently is one of the arenas this work looks at. This dissertation also looks at spirit communication, broadly conceived, and how messages from spirit are translated/mistranslated through the particular political lens of the practitioner/medium.

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