Todd Ramón Ochoa

in Society of the Dead

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780520256835
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520947924 | DOI:

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This chapter addresses the role of the Judias prenda or Jewish prenda in Palo craft. In its intellectual conception, the prenda judía offers singular insights into the creative transformations by slaves of the cosmos of their Catholic masters in Cuba, just as it reveals the degree to which such transformations were calculated within the incessant struggle for power and control that was Cuban slave society. The dead oriented by prendas judías fear the dead oriented by prendas cristianas. Judías hide from the cristianas if they are encountered amid the flows of the dead that pervade the streets of Havana. Judía is shorthand for a notion of complete transformation as is involved in killing a God. Judía here means sovereignty on a par with greater forces than the universe of whites. “Bad” in Palo means that Palo dares to invoke its dead to overthrow divinity itself. That “bad” can mean “prestigious” or “good” should be familiar enough, as African-American slang has long established the “badness” of things great.

Keywords: Judias prenda; Jewish prenda; prendas cristianas; Palo craft; dead; divinity

Chapter.  7226 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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