Food-for-words: Sacrificial counterpoint and oracular articulacy in Cuba

Anastasios Panagiotopoulos


By critically engaging with anthropological theories on sacrifice and religious “mediation,” this article offers a doubly indigenous ethnographic theory of sacrifice and much beyond. Using material on Afro-Cuban divination and Fernando Ortiz’s notion of “counterpoint,” it goes beyond dominant scholarly understandings of sacrifice as a dialectical mediation between the “sacred” and the “profane,” and an act of substitution and annihilation. Rather, it offers an account of sacrifice as part of a much wider praxis and field wherein it serves, among many other offerings, materials and sensibilities, as a counterpoint and crossroads of exchange. The outcome is a dynamic transformation of a point of view into a “path” that is guided and forged through the ignition and further cultivation of oracular articulacy.


Afro-Cuban religion, counterpoint, divination, perspective, sacrifice, mediation

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/700980