I can’t believe this is our last discussion, friends! This semester went by so fast and so slow, somehow. Thanks for all your hard work.
Don’t forget: all your assignments for this class are due by midnight on Tuesday, April 27th!!
What we’re reading/watching
- Cross, “Understanding American Brujeria”
- Galer, “The Instagram Witches of Brooklyn” (video)
- Herstick, “How the Hoodwitch Is Making Witchcraft More Inclusive”
- Romberg, “Brujos, Saints, or Brokers?”
Before we hop into today’s conversation, you might also want to refresh your memory on appropriation and commodification.
and just to get us started:
so like…this video is gorgeous and working with a lot of tropes that should be familiar to y’all by now. But also (according to Wikipedia and the popups on RPDR S9: Ruvealed, which apparently LIED to me): Aja is not Latinx. So what do we make of this commodification of brujería? Is this appropriation? Why or why not?
Update: Aja clarified her heritage on Twitter and blessed us with a short thread about ADRs as lived religion. Click through to read the whole thing.
I’m leaving the original question up for context, but I’m also really glad Aja corrected me. Come through, social media!
Cross, “Understanding American Brujería”
Cross and Crossroads: Understanding American Brujeria
Not long ago, I was given the opportunity to write a book. I nervously pitched my idea to write about Mexican-American…
Things to think about while you’re reading this piece:
- How is Cross defining American brujería? Why does this definition matter?
- In what ways do we see hybridity at work in American brujería?
- What’s distinctive about American brujería in comparison to what Cross calls traditional brujería? What’s significant about these differences?
- Based on our readings this semester, would Romberg concur with Cross’ description of traditional brujería? Why or why not?
Galer, “The Instagram Witches of Brooklyn”
While you’re watching this short documentary, think about…
- Why women of color might be attracted to brujería, and why they’re reclaiming the title of bruja
- What role(s) health and healing play in their practices
- How practitioners are defining “religion” and “spirituality” in this piece (note: I honestly don’t love this distinction, but why do we think they’re drawing this distinction?)
- What’s religious (or spiritual, to use the practitioners’ terminology) about these practices?
For more on this film, check out Galer’s thread on how the project came together.
in discussing this project with her, I mentioned that our Romberg readings made me wonder if Instagram followers might not be a kind of spiritual capital in this context.
How does Romberg help us think about the ways brujería gets valued?
Herstick, “How the Hoodwitch Is Making Witchcraft More Inclusive”
How The Hoodwitch is making witchcraft more inclusive
Have any conversation with a witch today about where they go for their magical inspiration and they're more than likely…
“Throughout my own spiritual search, the books that were available to me were Eurocentric Pagan practices, Wicca, stuff like that, so there wasn’t a lot of material that was accessible that really touched on my cultural identification. I wasn’t looking to my own culture, to my grandmothers, who were right there.”
Bri Luna, Hoodwitch
While you’re reading this piece, think about…
- what’s special about the Hoodwitch’s project? how is she shaping and changing contemporary witchcraft, and why are those changes important?
- how is what the Hoodwitch is doing different than, say, Sephora’s Starter Witch kit? does commodification always equal appropriation?
- how does the Hoodwitch’s practice help us better understand lived religion and spiritualized materialism as Romberg defines them? (If you’re fuzzy on these terms, go back and review the appropriation and commodification lecture)
Romberg, “Brujos, Saints, or Brokers?”
This is the third chapter we’ve read from Romberg’s Witchcraft and Welfare, so you should have a pretty clear idea of what she’s up to here. While you’re reading, ask yourself…
- What is she arguing about the relationship between religion, business, and healing?
- What needs are brujos addressing in their work, and how do they respond to those needs?
- What’s religious about brujería as Romberg describes it, and what it entrepreneurial about the practice? Can we draw a clear distinction between the two?
- What’s similar among brujería and the other Afro-Caribbean magical practices we’ve discussed this semester? What, if anything, makes brujería unique?
and that’s it for this semester! I’m looking forward to reading your analyses of Rosemary’s Baby and checking out your final projects. Take care of yourselves and feel free to get in touch if you have any questions about remaining assignments.