Carnival and Ñáñiguismo

Thomas F. Anderson

in Carnival and National Identity in the Poetry of Afrocubanismo

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780813035581
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813038131 | DOI:
Carnival and Ñáñiguismo

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The focus of this chapter—“Carnival and Ñáñiguismo: Poetic Syncretism in Alejo Carpentier's ‘Juego santo’”—is a little-studied poem by one of the earliest literary proponents of Afrocubanismo. This chapter begins with a brief exploration of Carpentier's decisive role as a founder of this artistic and cultural movement, but the focus is on the poem itself and, more specifically, its relationship to and evocation of Afro-Cuban carnival traditions. The chapter demonstrates how—in an act of poetic syncretism—Alejo Carpentier melds two public spectacles that had long been associated with Ñáñiguismo, or the Abakuá secret society: semi-public, sacred processions that were performed as part of ñáñigo initiation ceremonies, and carnivalesque “comparsas ñáñigas,” which first emerged during nineteenth-century Día de Reyes celebrations, and then eventually became integrated into traditional carnival festivities.

Keywords: Carnival; Ñáñiguismo; Alejo Carpentier; Juego santo; Afrocubanismo; cultural movement; Afro-Cuban carnival traditions

Chapter.  9264 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Society and Culture

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