The introduction begins by addressing the omission of food preparation and casual conversation from analyses of Black Atlantic religions. The author contends that the transnational expansion of these traditions compels scholars to look beyond valorized genres of ritual action to see the importance of cooking for gods and ancestors and talking about them. In fact, these very acts develop the faculties, sentiments, and expertise indispensable for these religions’ social viability and demographic spread. Placing Lucumí (popularly called Santería) within the historical context of the transatlantic slave trade as the worship of Yorùbá spirits called orishas, the introduction turns to the Chicago-based religious community called Ilé Laroye, led for almost thirty years by African American Lucumí diviner and praise singer, Spiritist medium, and Palo Monte initiate Ashabi Mosley. It identifies the kitchen of Ilé Laroye as the micro-site of the book’s “sensuous ethnography” and explains the research methods employed in the service of its comparative methodological approach. After considering the ethics of the ethnographic enterprise, the affect-laden circumstances of data collection, and the book’s reliance on field notes and vignettes, the author reflects on her positionality with regard to race/ethnicity, gender, and class. A chapter overview and note on transcription follow.
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