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Espiritualismo at the U.S.-Mexican Border Region

A Case Study of Possession, Globalization, and the Maintenance of Tradition

Rodolfo A. Otero

Espiritualismo at the U.S.-Mexican Border Region: A Case Study of Possession, Globalization, and the Maintenance of Tradition is a sensitive, empathetic, and beautifully detailed account of the Mexican religious movement Espiritualismo Trinitario Mariano as practiced in the U.S.-Mexican border region, culminating 16 months of fieldwork. This study offers a salient portrait of a changing religion and society in Mexico and is critically relevant to the understanding of religious change in the developing world. Espiritualista symbolism at the U.S.-Mexican border, mainly manifested through spirit possession performances, is an effective system of knowledge and empowerment accessible to individuals from all levels in society. This symbolism reflects an awareness of attempts at discrediting tradition through the imposition of a "rational," modernist hegemonic perspective. According to espiritualistas at the border, the social arrangements engendered by capitalism and the strong presence of Protestantism in the area are the forces that present a direct attack on Mexican tradition. In an uneasy alliance with Catholicism, espiritualismo stands as a bastion of tradition, and at the same time, it establishes a path to modernity. This book is a major contribution to the anthropology of religion, Latin American anthropology, gender studies, medical anthropology, and studies of migration. It is an excellent supplemental reading for undergraduate and graduate courses on the anthropology of religion.

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