Accepted Paper:

Transnational objects, transnational cults: Afro-American religions in Europe  

Author:

Roger Canals (University of Barcelona)

Paper long abstract:

Many Caribbeans have migrated and settled in Barcelona (Spain), bringing with them many objects necessary to perform their Afro-American rituals. But this expansion of the cult to the European context has provoked changes in the performance of the rituals: believers have, for instance, introduced new material elements -such as images of Catalan Goddesses- in order to "adapt" their religion to the new environment.

This ethnographic example demonstrates that material culture is more than a mere "reflection" of people's "culture"; it is also a means to integrate into the society, which creates social changes and new relationships while establishing material and symbolic bridges between different areas, cultures and individuals.

This paper explores the role of material culture in the expansion of Afro-American cults in Europe and, more precisely, the double function of these "transnational objects": on the one hand, they are used to establish a permanent link between the believers and their motherland; on the other hand, these "objects in motion" serve as a strategy to integrate the believers into a new society.

Panel W018
Material culture, migration and the transnational imaginary