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Religion in the Kitchen


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About the Author

Elizabeth Perez is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She has contributed to numerous journals as well as to the volume Yemoja: Gender, Sexuality, and Creativity in the Latina/o and Afro-Atlantic Diasporas.


[A] major contribution to the scholarship of Black Atlantic traditions, bringing much needed attention to cooking, talking, and the women and gay men who do both . . . With an accessible introduction and opening chapters, Perezs careful, erudite analysis offers methodological direction and a theoretical vocabulary for all scholars interested in the intersection of everyday practice with religious subject formation. * Nova Religio *
Religion in the Kitchenby Elizabeth Perez is a stunning achievement, both for its methodological sophistication and its timely focus . . . Situating her analysis within multiple academic venues, including anthropology, history, and the arts, Perez engages a methodological turn that is of inestimable value to scholars of religion. How fitting that a text about cooking and conversation sets a special place at the table for Africana traditions . . .Religion in the Kitchenis hearty and satisfying fare, served with academic rigor, the 'special sauce' for acuity and balance in the study of religion. * Journal of the American Academy of Religion *
Perez's reorientation of seemingly mundane gastronomical activities towardreligiousfunctionality in an effort to present a different approach to the study of Black Atlanticreligionmakes this book invaluable to scholars and students interested in African diasporicreligionsand anthropology/history ofreligion. * Religious Studies Review *
A deeply researched, contextually rich and ambitious intervention into the literature on Black Atlantic religions. While most scholars of Santeria and other Black Atlantic traditions have focused on initiation as the paradigmatic site where religious values are inculcated and religious subjects are `reborn, Perez directs her attention to a more prosaicand unjustly overlookedsetting: the kitchen. By cooking for the orishas, Perez asserts, participants are themselves being cooked; that is, they are being socialized into the complex world of Santeria aesthetics and ethics. In focusing on the informal spaces and behind-the-scenes work so fundamental to the molding of religious subjects and the perpetuation of Black Atlantic religious forms, Perez opens up a whole world. Compelling as an ethnography and theoretically astute, Religion in the Kitchenoffers a thought-provoking analysis of how religious norms are internalized and reproduced. A stunning achievement. -- Kelly E. Hayes, author of Holy Harlots: Femininity, Sexuality and Black Magic in Brazil
Religion in the Kitchenis the product of Perez longstanding interest in the religious phenomena of Black Atlantic communities, and builds on a number of prior projects, revisiting, revising, and creating a thoughtful and fascinating ethnographic text . . . [W]ill fascinate both the academic community and the interested layperson. * Journal of Religious History *
Chapter three is my favorite in the book . . . a prime example of Geertzs model of thick description as applied to religion and food. Readers will no doubt find themselves comparing Perezs work to that of Karen McCarthy Brown (2001) inMama Lola: A Vodou Priestess in Brooklyn, which has become a classic in the field. Perezs questions and conclusions are different than Browns, but I suspect that likeMama Lola, Perezs Religion in the Kitchen will become a go-to book for the study of Afro-Caribbean traditions in the USA. * Material Religion *
With clear description and sharp analysis Perez highlights ways in which cookingand its related activities such as conversationis the stuff of religious engagement and a symbol of connection between humanity and divinity. Anyone concerned with better understanding how ordinary spaces and practices take on religious significance will value this book. -- Anthony Pinn, Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities and Professor of Religion, Rice University
Here is a new approach to the syncretic black religions of the Atlantic world. Though Perez's research site was a Cuban Lucumi (also called Santeria) temple in Chicago, her insights and conclusions apply far beyond . . . Research on the aesthetics of everyday life is burgeoning everywhere and not only in philosophy, as this fine example demonstrates. * Choice *
A pleasure to read. The lucid writing ... illuminates the spaces in the back of the house, where so much of the crucial work of making food and making family takes place. -- New West Indian Guide
[W]ell crafted, theoretically engaging, and insightful . . . Perez adroitly maps those interstitial spaces often historically relegated solely to women and their labor. This book provides a rare view into the liminal space of the Lucumi cloister and the coded dialogues therein . . . By queering her analysis inReligion in the Kitchen, Perez substantively and subtly illuminates the temple-house communitys cohesion across its various subject positions . . . The role and signification of who cooks, what they cook, for whom they are cooking, who gets to eat and why suddenly opens up new avenues for inquiry and analysis under Perezs gaze. * Food, Culture & Society *

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