Accepted Paper:

The glocalization of 'Eastern spiritualities' in Cuba: some considerations on religious change in the age of globalization  


Girardo Rodriguez (Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University)

Paper short abstract:

The glocalization of ‘Eastern spiritualities’ in Cuba is discussed. These global flows modify the local religious field, but also receive new forms and functions from Cuban adherents. Symmetrical interactions are evident in hybridizations with local religions and new glocal meanings.

Paper long abstract:

Asian religions and related spiritual elements spread increasingly beyond their traditional enclaves. Their impact in Europe and North America is such that some see it as an "Easternization of the West", while others announce a predominance of this trend in the overall globalization process. Whereas this view questions notions of the hegemony of Westernization/Americanization, it still stresses the idea of globalization as homogenization, thereby neglecting the symmetrical interactions involved in glocalization. The latter is especially necessary to understand social contexts like Latin America (and elsewhere) where cultural mixing is largely normative and where Asian religions have also been introduced recently. This presentation focuses on some instances of 'Eastern spiritualities' in Cuba, which develop in the Caribbean island since the 1990s. Previous field research on Reiki is reconsidered from the glocalization perspective, and insights from the author's own fieldwork on Soka Gakkai in Havana in 2011 are discussed. While acknowledging that these global flows bring unprecedented changes into the local religious field, it also shows that far from occurring in a unidirectional relation, these (globalized) Asian religious elements take new forms and functions among Cuban adherents. Symmetrical interactions are evident in hybridizations with the local religious culture and with new meanings attached to these spiritualities that allow for interpretations of social reality and the creation of new glocal identities.

Panel P115
The perspective of glocalization: addressing the changing society and culture under globalization