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Accepted Paper:

(Spi)ritualizing Nature and urban environments: Mapping the development of Cuban permaculture  
Emma Gobin (Université Paris 8)

Paper short abstract:

Based on ethnographical and historical data, the paper documents the arrival and development of permaculture in Cuba, a practice imported at the crossroads of several transnational networks and which favors local ritualized practices and a spiritualization of the relationship with « Nature », including in urban environments.

Paper long abstract:

After the fall of the USSR, Cuba experienced a strong crisis that led the country to experiment new methods and techniques in a wide variety of sectors, such as that of health, thus favouring the introduction of « New Age » spiritual techniques and visions (Karnoouh, 2011 ; Gobin, 2016). The changes that affected the field of agriculture and environment, in particular the importation and development of permaculture, agroecology and urban agriculture, also acted as channels of new spiritual conceptions involving « Nature » and forms of what I call « ecoritualization ». Documenting the arrival and development of such practices in Cuba thus amounts to document part of the rise of contemporary spiritualities in the country, especially in the case of permaculture –which is per se a transnational movement (e.g. Centemeri, 2019) and has directly to do with contemporary spiritualities (Foyer, 2022). Based on oral testimonies and ethnographical fieldwork, this paper proposes to map the events, international networks and circuits that allowed the introduction since the 1990s of agroecological techniques in Cuba, in particular that of permaculture. By so doing, it pretends to highlight the religious or spiritual connections of such process as well as to emphasize how, on the basis of foundational collaborations with facilitators coming from Australia, Mexico or Colombia, and with the mediation of a Cuban ONG, several workshops and trainings (locally called talleres de permacultura criolla) worked as key events in the dissemination of the practice and the progressive spiritualization of the relationships with Nature for some « followers » (including in urban environments).

Panel P103
Contemporary 'spiritual' practices: Ethnographic and comparative approaches of a transnational field [Contemporary 'Spiritual' Practices Network]
  Session 1 Tuesday 26 July, 2022, -