aerial view of the Amazon river

Current Issue

Religion and Spirituality

Winter 2021​ | Volume XX, Number 2

Table of Contents

Editor’s Letter →

by June Carolyn Erlick

First Take

The Mexican Angels in the Attic

The Mexican Angels in the Attic

Years before I met the Mexican angels in that Chicago attic, my abuela Carlota Carranza Carrasco told me about religion. Carlota was born in Batopilas at the bottom of the Cañon del Cobre in 1896 and crossed the border into El Paso to escape the chaos of the Mexican Revolution in 1912…

Catholicism and Beyond

El Salvador, Back in the Day

El Salvador, Back in the Day

The glory days are long gone. They began in the 70s. Extraordinary grassroots pastoral work, accompanied by a then-new school of thought known as “liberation

Christianity between Religious Transformations

Christianity between Religious Transformations

English + Español
In the second half of the 20th century, Latin America was surprised by religious changes that not only were transforming the religious panorama, but also influencing both society and politics. Beginning in the 1950’s, some in the Catholic Church—not just priests and…

Picturing Calixta

Picturing Calixta

My longtime friend Calixta Gabriel, a Kaqchikel Maya poet and spiritual guide had decided the time had come to unbury her past. As she revealed her history to me, I discovered

The Evangelical Boom

Exodus Testimonios

Exodus Testimonios

The audience at Iglesia Monte de Sion was ecstatic as believers lined up to share their testimonials. “God delivered us from Egypt and brought us to the Promised Land,” said José as he shared his testimonio with the small Latinx Pentecostal church in central California…

Water of Life

Water of Life

As I was conducting fieldwork in Brazil in 2014 for my recent book, about half the country was in the first year of a drought that would last through 2017. I was living in Juiz de Fora, a medium-sized city in the state of Minas Gerais, about three-hours inland from Rio…

Afro-Latin Religions

The Body as Layered Divinity

The Body as Layered Divinity

I am a practitioner in the Afro-Cuban spiritual-religious tradition, Regla de Ocha-Ifá. What is the tradition, you might ask? You might be familiar with Regla de Ocha-Ifá as Lukumí…

“Axé, Capoeira!”

“Axé, Capoeira!”

Abby “Dendê” Rehard is a Ph.D. student in Musicology at Florida State University. Since she first encountered the sounds of the Portuguese language and samba drumming in 2010, her research interests have centered in Afro-Brazilian movement and music forms like…

A Residual Note on Weeping

A Residual Note on Weeping

One of the last things I remember doing on the Harvard campus before quarantine was to hurry down a narrow and winding staircase to the underground levels of the Fine Arts Library. I had recently learned about a Black Cuban artist named Belkis Ayón Manso…

Judaism in the Americas

Exploring Mexican Judaism

Exploring Mexican Judaism

I was shivering on that sunny warm Mexico City afternoon in March 2019.  The climate-controlled archives of the newly inaugurated Colección Centro de Documentación e Investigación de la Comunidad Ashkenazi de México (CDIJUM) were otherwise a delight…

My Ancestors’ Keys

My Ancestors’ Keys

When I was a child in Havana, we lived half a block away from the Patronato, also known as Temple Beth Shalom, the Jewish community center built on the eve of the Cuban revolution of 1959. I was too young when we left Cuba to remember it…

In Monsieur Chouchani’s Footsteps

In Monsieur Chouchani’s Footsteps

Monsieur Chouchani—occasionally spelled “Shushani”—is a ghost, at least allegorically. His real name might have been Hillel Perlman, or perhaps Mordechai Rosenbaum, although neither of these options is certain. His death was recorded in…

Growing up Jewish in Chile

Growing up Jewish in Chile

English + Español
I grew up Jewish in Chile, that long, narrow country that extends to the very tip of the South American continent. As I listen to the ebb and flow of the waves of the Atlantic where I

Mexican Yiddish and Secular Jewish Identity in Mexico

Mexican Yiddish and Secular Jewish Identity in Mexico

Visitors to the Casa Azul in Coyoacán, Mexico City, can walk through the house of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, admiring their collections of folk art, oddities, masterpieces, and furniture. As a student of literature, I was most drawn to their bookshelves during a visit there…

Indigenous Religions in the Americas

Rituals of Resistance

Rituals of Resistance

When I first passed along the Guatemalan lakeshore to the Cofradía Santa Cruz, where Maximón spends much of the year, I was out walking. I didn’t know where I was…

Sacred Smoke of Copal

Sacred Smoke of Copal

Dozens of Mexican-American women stand in front of their computers at awkward angles. Most are muted per proper Zoom etiquette; many have their eyes closed and hands outstretched. Turning to face…

Híbridos, the Spirits of Brazil

Híbridos, the Spirits of Brazil

Eight years ago, in 2013, I received an unexpected email from French filmmaker Vincent Moon, who was looking for a Brazilian partner to undertake an ambitious project: a poetic and…

Shamanic Tourism

Shamanic Tourism

Today it is hard to find someone who has not heard of the infamous hallucinogenic plant mixture called ayahuasca commonly prepared from the stems of Banisteriopsis caapi and the leaves of Psychotria viridis or chacruna. The brew, well known for its purging and visionary…

Book Talk

Indigenous Peoples, Active Agents

Indigenous Peoples, Active Agents

Recently, the Amazon and its indigenous residents have become hot issues, metaphorically as well as climatically. News stories around the world have documented raging and relatively…

Beyond the Sociology Books

Beyond the Sociology Books

If you are not from Colombia and hoping to understand the South American nation of 50 million souls, you might tend to focus on “Colombia the terrible”—narcotics and decades of socio-political violence…

The Price of Gold

The Price of Gold

English + Español
I loved to be in the Chocó. My work on a biodiversity conservation project allowed me to travel frequently to the seldom-visited northwest fringe of Colombia. The…

Bolivia in the Age of Gas

Bolivia in the Age of Gas

Bret Gustafson’s Bolivia in the Age of Gas is an ambitious and exquisitely detailed historical ethnography of Bolivia and its complicated relation with gas (and oil). Fossil fuels, Gustafson argues, have been central to the making of Bolivia, of this “gaseous state.” Drawing on a deep, decades-long engagement in the region…