Micropractices in Macrocosm
The conclusion brings the book’s argument concerning Black Atlantic traditions to bear on “world religions” more generally. Grappling with questions of autonomy, agency, and servitude raised by practitioners’ inhabitation of the spirit idiom, it interprets the enshrinement of slavery in Black Atlantic religions as a critique of the “betrayal of abolition” in republican democracies throughout the African Diaspora. It also accounts for the sensuous and tactile transposition of slavery’s historical excess into the religious realm. The main finding of this book, however, is the secret recipe for the apparent continuity of Lucumí as a religion, despite the instabilities inherent within it, as within any social formation: ensembles of micropractices that lend the impression of cohesion to social interaction. This finding holds out the possibility of more rigorously theorizing religious subject formation as a didactic process of moral-ethical and ideological becoming. To that end, the conclusion calls for a shift in scholarly focus from holy pageantry to the unglamorous micropractices that consolidate and perpetuate disciplinary regimes accepted as religious. It advocates for research that embraces the challenge of mapping the subtle changes micropractices have wrought on the human sensorium—not simply hearts and minds, but also senses and sensibilities.
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