Forthcoming—Channeling Knowledges: Water and Afro-Diasporic Spirits in Latinx and Caribbean Worlds

Rebeca L. Hey-Colón’s new book, Channeling Knowledges: Water and Afro-Diasporic Spirits in Latinx and Caribbean Worlds, will be published by the University of Texas Press in May. [Use code UTXNACCS for 30% off.]

Yomaira Figueroa-Vásquez (associate professor of Global Afro-Diaspora Studies/English, Michigan State University) describes the book: “Through a deep and careful study of Afro-syncretic ritual practices, Puerto Rican poetics, Dominican literary fiction, Chicana archives, and Haitian and Dominican remembrance practices, Hey-Colón ushers us into the expansive possibilities of water as sanctuary, techno-resonance, and regeneration. A moving contribution to the study of Latina texts and spiritual practices, Channeling Knowledges offers a necessary entryway into a set of systems, practices, and imaginations that unsettle facile understandings of Afro-diasporic worldviews in contemporary Caribbean and Latinx cultural and social productions and, in so doing, reveal critical aspects of our entwined futures.”

Description: How water enables Caribbean and Latinx writers and artists to connect to their pasts, presents, and futures.

Water is often tasked with upholding division through the imposition of geopolitical borders. We see this in the construction of the Rio Grande/Río Bravo on the US-Mexico border, as well as in how the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean are used to delineate the limits of US territory. In stark contrast to this divisive view, Afro-diasporic religions conceive of water as a place of connection; it is where spiritual entities and ancestors reside, and where knowledge awaits.

Departing from the premise that water encourages confluence through the sustainment of contradiction, Channeling Knowledges fathoms water’s depth and breadth in the work of Latinx and Caribbean creators such as Mayra Santos-Febres, Rita Indiana, Gloria Evangelina Anzaldúa, and the Border of Lights collective. Combining methodologies from literary studies, anthropology, history, and religious studies, Rebeca L. Hey-Colón’s interdisciplinary study traces how Latinx and Caribbean cultural production draws on systems of Afro-diasporic worship—Haitian Vodou, La 21 División (Dominican Vodou), and Santería/Regla de Ocha—to channel the power of water, both salty and sweet, in sustaining connections between past, present, and not-yet-imagined futures.

Rebeca L. Hey-Colón is an assistant professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Temple University. For more information, see

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