Afro-Cuban Underworld. The Black Sorcerers
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Typographic rustic ISBN: 9788490072684
Fernando Ortiz Fernández is the forerunner of studies on the culture of African origin in Cuba. His life was dedicated to the discovery of the Cuban and the rescue and revaluation of the African presence in that culture. Thus, he began his professional career investigating the Afro-Cuban underworld and the “bad life” of the Havana peripheries. He followed the routes of two Cubans: the sociologist, historian and journalist José Antonio Saco, and the writer and journalist Miguel de Carrión.
Consequently, inspired by the criminal sociology theses of Enrico Ferri and Cesare Lombroso, he elaborated his own criminological theories in his book Hampa afrocubana. The Black Sorcerers (Hampa afrocubana. Los negros brujos).
Ortiz Fernández’s work is marked by controversy surrounding his initial research methods. He started as a criminologist and then became interested in history, sociology and anthropology.
At first Fernando Ortiz, influenced by the ideas of Lombrosian positivism, links the black population to what he calls the “bad life” or to delinquency, ignorance and immorality. It postulates the need to clean up this population through its “de-Africanization” in order to integrate it into the Cuban national project.
However, some two decades later, Fernando changes his position to appreciate and value the cultural contributions of black Cubans to the national culture.
Afro-Cuban Underworld. The Black Sorcerers Perhaps it is progressive in relation to its time. However, it was surpassed by Fernando’s later work, which combined exhaustive fieldwork with the analysis of economic contexts, reliable statistics and the study of religious beliefs and superstitions from a more integrative approach.
However, this book is a symptom of how the Cuban intelligentsia faced the black culture of the island.
The author also believes in the need to make another preliminary clarification. Although it cannot be deduced from his statements, or even from the data ordered by him, a racist opinion that would be repugnant to his sociological convictions, nevertheless, perhaps from the group of those among us who write or speak for the public – especially from the lower layers of that small world, because intellectualism also has its underworld – a malicious voice may emerge that attributes to this book passionate conclusions and pugnant with the sound judgment that It deserves the scientific observation of all the psycho-sociological characters of the Cuban population of color. However, the study and interpretation of the real value, positive or negative, for the evolution of Cuban society have the multiple and often forgotten coefficients that have determined the current state of the black race in Cuba, increasingly prosperous and assimilable, does not mean that those who in this direction accentuate their intellectual efforts are inspired by bastard impulses. which will certainly and not at all be unmotivated.Author’s foreword
The positivist observation of the disinherited classes in this or that aspect of life, and of the factors which prevent them from a more rapid escalation of the upper strata, must necessarily produce the beneficial effect of hastening their social redemption. So it was with the works of the Pinel, the Esquirol, the Morel, etc., on the unfortunate madmen – who although they no longer died as before with the affronting coroza in the bonfires of the autos de fe, were still treated as evildoers, as susceptible to becoming sane by punishment, as the popular saying still remembers. which work the development of psychiatry that today demands that the alienated be cared for with the affectionate protection that the sick and children deserve. Just as the gigantic efforts of the Lombroso, the Ferri, the Lacassagne, the Tarde, the Dorados, and the whole phalanx of modern criminologists will make viable the idealisms of correctional theory, undermine useless prisons, and open an era of tutelary treatment for criminals—unhappy people who are shipwrecked by the instability of the skiffs of their organism, toys from the raging waves of the environment; innocent, however, of the defectiveness of the first, which they do not choose when embarking on the journey of life, and of the procelosity of the second, which they do not motivate in trying to set a course without a compass and without a helmsman.
Take, then, the observations of this book in the real and dispassionate sense that inspires them, and rectify if they are wrong, and complete if deficient, that all intellectual effort in favor of the scientific knowledge of the Afro-Cuban underworld will be nothing but a collaboration, conscious or not, to the sanitization of its dens, to the regeneration of its parasites, to the moral progress of our society and to the advent of those not always well defined, but no less noble ideals which, incubates every honest and objective mind, polarized towards a correction of suffering humanity, so that selfishness may be restrained and channeled and altruisms may be enlivened, and so that free from ethnic prejudices and aberrant artificial factors of selection, The superorganic evolution follows its course determined by the forces of Nature, channeled by a feeling of love and universal cooperation, which are not yet as human as the pride of our species, too numbed by the anthropocentric ideas that have rocked it for so many centuries, makes us believe.
Let us observe with microscopic and repeated scrupulosity — studio et sine odio — our present evils, that the consideration of their magnitude will produce the nightmare that will awaken us more quickly from our drowsiness and will give us courage and strength to achieve future well-being.
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