Kristina Wirtz  HOME  |  C.V. |  Research  |  Teaching 


Kristina (middle) with a santera and her daughter in Santiago de Cuba, 5/00

I am a linguistic and cultural anthropologist who studies Santería in contemporary Cuba. I received my PhD in Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2003 and am an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Western Michigan University since 2005.

My research and teaching interests encompass religion, discourse, ritual performance, and negotiations over identity and community (racial, religious, and national). I am especially intrigued by Santería’s esoteric ritual register, Lucumí, as an emblem of religiosity and of different strains of historical consciousness in Cuba and the African diaspora.

Research interests

language and culture, semiotics, discourse analysis, religion, ritual performance, religious language, religious experience, religious community, race and nation, anthropology of the African diaspora, language ideologies, historical consciousness, Santería, Yoruba culture

Geographical/cultural specialization

Cuba, Caribbean, Latin America, African diaspora

Courses taught

Language and Culture (Anth 5450)

Language and Identity (Anth 4750)

The African Diaspora: Peoples and Cultures (Anth 3580)

Introduction to Language and Culture (Anth 3450)

Introduction to Cultural Anthropology (Anth 2400)

Peoples of the World (Anth 1200)

New Book

Ritual, Discourse, and Community in Cuban Santería: Speaking a Sacred World. 2007. Gainesville: University of Florida Press.

Read the Preface


I am helping to coordinate programming and community outreach around this exhibit, which is coming to Kalamazoo in Fall 2010.

Race Exhibit by American Anthropological Association

Local Race Exhibit information


American Ethnologist

Language & Communication

Text & Talk

Journal of Religion in Africa

Museum Anthropology Review



Here are some photographs of the procession done on Santa Bárbara's Day in Santiago de Cuba

each year on December 4th:

Young drummers initiated to the Pérez family's consecrated bata drums carry images of Reynerio Pérez and his wife, Santiago de Cuba, December 4, 1999.
Sta. Bárbara's Day procession in Los Olmos, Santiago de Cuba, December 4, 1999.    

Kristina Wirtz, Department of Anthropology, Western Michigan University. Kalamazoo, MI 49008

Updated July 5, 2007