Divination, healing, magic, and spirit possession rituals, brujería (witch-healing), Afro-Latin religions, Spiritism, syncretism, creolization, Caribbean, Afro-America, Latin America, African diaspora, Puerto Rico, authenticity, culture, power, performance, embodiment, the senses, modernity, colonialism, postcolonialism, globalization, localization, public sphere, representations, folklore, culture theory, fieldwork, ethnography, ethnohistory, ethnopoetics, the ethnography of speaking, material culture, visual anthropology.

Selected Teaching                

2010 – 2014 Visiting Assistant Professor. Sociology and Anthropology Department, Master program. Tel Aviv University, Israel.
2002 – 2010 Assistant Professor of Undergraduate and Graduate programs, Sociology and Anthropology Department. Temple University, USA
1999 – 2002 Visiting Assistant Professor. Sociology and Anthropology Department, Swarthmore College, USA.
1998 – 1999 Postdoctoral Mellon Scholar. Institute for Global Studies in Culture, Power and History. Johns Hopkins University, USA.


Selected Research

2012 – 2022 Senior Research Fellow, Research Coordinator and Fellow, Minerva Center for Interdisciplinary Studies of the End of Life, Tel Aviv University, Israel.


Raquel Romberg is a sociocultural anthropologist and folklorist (PhD. University of Pennsylvania, 1998). Her research focuses on Puerto Rican brujería, an Afro-Latin and Spiritist witch-healing practice that includes divination, possession, and healing rituals, as well as the making of magic works. Her research integrates archival and intensive ethnographic investigations leading to a combined ethnohistorical and ethnographic understanding of the changing role of brujos (witch healers) in different periods of Puerto Rican colonial and postcolonial history. Their entrepreneurial role as intermediaries between the welfare state and the individual today demonstrates that brujería is not a matter of a rural, atavistic past, but is very much alive, changing its faces in confronting modern consumerist and neoliberal conflicts. Raquel’s extensive uncensored audio and visual documentation of brujería rituals has appeared in several publications: Witchcraft and Welfare: Spiritual Capital and the Business of Magic in Modern Puerto Rico (2003), Healing Dramas: Divination and Magic in Puerto Rico (2009), and several articles on the sensuous and poetic aspects of ritual healing and altar-making, on the phenomenology and discourse of spirit possession, and on colonial and postcolonial histories of religious creolization. During a Mellon Fellowship at the Institute for Global Studies in Culture Power and History at Johns Hopkins University, Raquel developed a global, comparative, and theoretical framework on Caribbean religious creolization (French, English, and Spanish) in colonial and postcolonial contexts, published as Ritual Piracy or Creolization with an Attitude (2005, 2008).

In addition to seminars and graduate courses on the modernity of magic, ethnohistory of colonial and postcolonial cultural-religious developments, and anthropological explorations of the intersections between culture, power, history, and globalization, as well as her experience as a board member and co-editor of Magic, Ritual and Witchcraft, Raquel brings more than twenty years of academic experience to CAS-E. It encompasses a variety of fields that combine ethnographic and ethnohistorical approaches to practice, globalization, and interdisciplinarity in the study of alternative rationalities and esoteric practices. Her next projects for CAS-E include a comparative piece on the moral economies of Chinese and African divination in collaboration with Prof. Michael Lackner, and an edited volume on Global Spiritism and its social activist role in contemporary societies, which she intends to compile during workshops in collaboration with members of CAS-E and other international colleagues.

Raquel’s vision for the Center’s scientific coordination is informed by her personal and academic life history, in which she has moved and adapted to different geographical and scientific contexts in Argentina, the United States, and Israel. As scientific coordinator, she sees her role as promoting the study of alternative rationalities and esoteric practices as lived experience and integrating them, following Grounded Theory, into comparative, interdisciplinary and theoretical investigations that elevate the study of esotericism beyond its previous insularity and exceptionalism.

Please see Raquel Romberg’s CV here and find her publications at https://telaviv.academia.edu/RaquelRomberg

Romberg, Raquel. 2009. Healing Dramas: Divination and Magic in Modern Puerto Rico. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. http://www.utexas.edu/utpress/books/romhea.html

Romberg, Raquel. 2003. Witchcraft and Welfare: Spiritual Capital and the Business of Magic in Modern Puerto Rico. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. http://www.utexas.edu/utpress/books/romwit.html

See a list of Raquel Romberg’s additional publications in https://telaviv.academia.edu/RaquelRomberg

Research Project at CAS-E