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Trance and Modernity in the Southern CaribbeanAfrican and Hindu Popular Religions in Trinidad and Tobago$

Keith E. McNeal

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780813037363

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813037363.001.0001

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(p.xi) Acknowledgments

(p.xi) Acknowledgments

Trance and Modernity in the Southern Caribbean
University Press of Florida

My work has been dépendent upon the bountiful kindness, generosity, thought-fulness, and support of many informants, teachers, and friends, most of whom belong to more than one of these categories. My gratitude is therefore vast.

This project grows from seeds planted by many teachers and mentors, es-pecially Elizabeth Ewalt and William Puka (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); Livia Kohn and Charles Lindholm (Boston University); Robert Paul and Bradd Shore (Emory University). I would also like to acknowledge (in alphabetical order) Mark Auslander, Donald Donham, Carla Freeman, Bruce Knauft, Charles Nuckolls, Dianne Stewart, and Carol Worthman.

I share something with Mark Padilla and Donna Murdock that will nourish me forever. Katherine Frank and Michael Hill have also always been there with verve and acumen. Others—all precious, smart, or fabulous in ways too numer-ous to mention—are (in alphabetical order) John Bing, Mary Katherine “Tassi” Crabb, Jason DeCaro, Lara Deeb, Alexa Dietrich, Kendra Hatfield-Timajchy Alex Hinton, Yanique Hume, Ben Junge, Chris Kuzawa, Daniel Lende, Thom McDade, Hal Odden, Gayatri Reddy, Elaine Salo, Rebecca Seligman, and Saul Tobias.

I ate keskadoo in Trinidad in 1997 and—in line with its legendary ethnobiology—have kept returning and returning. My connections in “T and T” have grown auspiciously over the years and continue to permutate like a pumpkin vine.

At the University of the West Indies (UWI), I received critical assistance from Patricia Mohammed and Rhoda Reddock of Gender and Development (p.xii) Studies, Selwyn Ryan of the Institute for Social and Economic Research, as well as Brinsley Samaroo, Bridget Brereton, Funso Aiyejina, and Kusha Haraksingh in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Kim Gransaull, Kathleen Helenese-Paul, and the helpful staff of the West Indiana Archive helped enormously as well. Beyond the sphere of UWI, I received videographic assistance from Christopher Laird and invaluable access to the video archives at Banyan, Ltd. My research has also been well facilitated at both the National Archives and the Heritage Library in Port-of-Spain.

I hereby express my gladness and gratitude to Frances Henry—professor emerita at York University—for collaboration and transgenerational camaraderie along the way. Moreover, though not based in the Caribbean, Kevin Yelvington, Aisha Khan, Viranjini Munasinghe, and Daniel Segal have all offered vitalizing specialist feedback at important junctures. Cheryl Levine and Vincent Goldberg also carried out fieldwork in the twin islands that overlapped fortuitously with mine; I greatly appreciate their friendship and remember our cerebral “limes” fondly.

Diana “Damcho” Finnegan began working her magic before I had even stepped foot onto terra firma in the isle of the hummingbird. Stephen Lue Shue—my “guardian angel” as well as guide to Blanchisseuse—will always be golden to me. He, Uncle Lester, and the Lue Shue family took phenomenal care of me in the summer of 1997, and I will never forget their extraordinary kindness.

The following people also deserve mention with my sincerest gratitude (in no particular order): Burton Sankeralli, Brian James, Tyrone Mohammed, Father Carlyle Fortune, Paul Prudent and Errol James, the late Ricardo Niles, Nola and Danica Daniel, darling Nikolaus Jennings and Wayne Mohammed, Ken Hunt, the late “Auntie” Cynthia Seegobin, the late Peter “Petey-pie” See-gobin, Peter “Julie” Sheppard and the one and only Nazeer Gopaul, Derek “Doo Doo” Williams, the late Cynthia Maharaj and extended Maharaj family, Father Stephen Doyle, Geeta Maharaj, Kumar Mahabir, Ravi Rampersad, Vernon Ra-mesar, Merlene Samlalsingh, Meiling, Peter Minshall, Yvonne and Susie Morgan, Steve Lewis (Trinidads most polydexterous car mechanic), Marlon and Yvette of Santa Cruz, Dev Ramlal, Mark Pereira, Orlando Smith, Robert Lee, Grace and Winston Carr, “Redman” Philip, Dale, the late Gary Poon, Terence John, Garvin Gonzalez, Rudy Persad, Gabrielle Hossein, Shawn Rocke, Jacqueline Gregoire, Roger and Aulrica McFarlane, John Donation and Mother Joan, Raghoonath Chaboo, Garth Wilson, David Tindall, Pamela Franco, Abi-gail Hadeed, Randy Mohammed, Roland and Ann Duncan, Rajnie Ramlakhan, Selma Flood, Judith Johnston, Mrs. Maniyam, Jackie and Terence and the kids, (p.xiii) Larry and Sarah McIntosh, Lars and Regina Øyan, and Tammy. Ah does miss allyuh too bad.

On the Hindu side, I would especially like to mention the following people and institutions for their astonishing assistance (in no particular order): Tanti, Deanne, Saga, Shamma, Boom, their families, and the members of Maha Kali Mata Devi Mandir; Pujari Krishna Angad and the members of the Divine Maha Kali Shakti Temple; Pujari Tony and Susan Rampersad of Shiv Shankar Shakti Temple; Pujari Brian Bachulal and the members of the Bhawanie Shankar Sewa Sankh; the late Pujari Naziph Ali (Kali Charan Dass), Ramesh Maraj, and members of the Sai Sadhana Shakti Temple; Kartic Jangalee and the Prem Jyoti Shakti Mandir; Varun Narinesingh; Prematie Soodeen; Ravi-Ji of the Hindu Prachar Kendra; Jaishima Lelladarsingh; Mrs. Capildeo and Pandit Persad of the St. James Hindu Mandir; Auntie Kae; Pandit Vijay Ramroop, his family, and members of Shri Bandi Hanuman Shakti Mandir; Chattargoon and Elizabeth Moonsammy; Shamma Moonsammy of the Mariamman Kovil; Rajendra and Rani Jadoo and family; Lallo Sammy and the Streatham Lodge Shakti Temple; Derek Madray and Linda Brown; Tanti Beitin; Ramdeo Murugan; Emmanuel Nelson; Satnarayan Maharaj of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha and the Bomb; Suresh Sookdeo and family of Sangre Grande; Dhanraji Sam and Ramdanie of El Dorado; Basdeo Mallian and Bissoondaye; Marla Gangadeen; the late Pandit Sam Parasaram; and Max Sulty.

There are many on the African side who have also assisted in equally amazing ways, including (again in no particular order) Dexter Oxley; the late “Baja” Sam Phills; the late Iyalorisha Rodney and Egbe Orisa Ile Wa; Iyalorisha Amoye Valerie Stephenson Lee Chee, Franklin, and members of Enia Wa; Mother Joan of D'Abadie; Boysie Ben, his family, and members of his shrine; Rhoma Spencer; Pearl Eintou Springer; Michael Cyrus, Mother Joan Cyrus, Valerie Foster, and all the members and friends of Kenny Cyrus Alkebu Lan Ile Ijebu Shrine; Zakiya Wadada, Queen Mother Kali, Babaluwa, and the shrine at La Canoa; Julianna Sutton; Pat McCleod (Iya Sangowumi), her family, and the Abiadamma community; Olori Jeffrey Biddeau and family; Oludari Massetungi and Egbe Onisin Eledumare; the late Babalorisha Clarence Forde and sons; Henry White; Aaron and Rhonda Jones; Marjorie Anderson; and James Houk.

I have a special place in my heart for Rabindranath Maharaj, who not only kept me going in very good company during the longest period of fieldwork, but also gave me the honor of sharing in one of the unfathomably difficult things life brings. Thomas LePere has cherished my work for a long while, spanned the transition to San Diego with an encouraging twinkle in his eye, cared in countless ways, and generously shared his love for travel. Felipe Zúñiga waltzed into (p.xiv) my life in SoCal and never fails to make me smile. Jacinto Delgado-Guizar kept me on my toes and graciously midwifed the first complete draft of this manuscript. I thank each of you for being and becoming with me.

My family also deserves credit for whatever I have been able to make of myself, especially my mother, Katheryn McNeal Pennington. I appreciate everyone's love and support—emotional, spiritual, material—in ways not always enough expressed. I dedicate this work in part to the memory of my father, Keith E. McNeal Jr., who would have been the only one of the clan to highlight extensively in his personal copy.

In San Diego, I have the cherished, ever-unfolding friendship of Erin Dwyer, which began so long ago in upstate New York. Ian Abramson—a more recently acquired guardian angel as well as plant guru extraordinaire—has bent over backwards to make life easier as well as share love for the life of mind (not to mention help take care of Bibi). The move to SoCal also brought the auspicious and stimulating friendships of Nancy Postero and Jeff Harkness; Elana Zilberg and Matthew Elgart; Jodie, Marivi, and Sofia Blanco; Nayan Shah and Ken Foster; Barbara Bamberger; Roberto Tejada; and David Perlmutter. I also thank Michael Kimmel for caring and keeping me sane.

My students Brendan Thornton, Noga Shemer, and Joshua “Elvis” Nordin have taught me more than they realize and made being a Caribbeanist even more pleasurable. I acknowledge support from the Department of Anthropology at the University of California–San Diego (UCSD) as well as intellectual sustenance from Joel Robbins in particular. Time at UCSD also made possible a very special relationship with one of my anthropological heroes, Melford E. Spiro, with whom I have been able to felicitously sidestep the disciplinary oedipal bottleneck. Last, but certainly not least, there is Esra Özyürek, who immeasurably enriches my soul with royal pomegranate seeds and also brought the miraculous Azize and Firuze Özyürek-Baer—as well as the indubitable Marc David Baer—into the center of my life.

Research and publication have been made possible through the generous support of the Fulbright-Hays Foundation; the Social Science Research Council; the Wenner-Gren Foundation; the Emory University Fund for Internationalization; the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at UCSD; the Hellman Fellowship Program at UCSD; a UCSD Humanities Center Transborder Interventions, Transcontinental Archives Fellowship; and the UCSD Faculty Career Development Program, for all of which I am most grateful.

Kevin Yelvington benevolently ensured that this project found the right home in the University Press of Florida's New World Diasporas series. At UPF, Amy Gorelick's steady hand made publishing this book a less daunting endeavor.

(p.xv) Finally, I want to heartily “big up” Erin Dwyer and Felipe Zúñiga for their masterly transformations of my hand-drawn diagrams into such delightful schematic illustrations for publication; Katherine Frank for superheroic editing assistance; and Bobby Drake for solving a last-minute technical glitch and therefore saving the images presented in this book. (p.xvi)