This collection of scholarly essays assessing the history, meaning, and impact of the Santa Muerte cult in Mexico is a welcome addition to the burgeoning field of Santa Muerte studies. The outgrowth of a 2014 conference hosted at the University of Groningen, the papers treat a variety of topics focused on the saint’s Mexican presence—from tattoos as altars made of human flesh to the way that those who are most vulnerable “use” the dead to reassert a measure of control over their lives. Although only two of the contributors are Mexican, the rest coming from Europe and the United States, the book is informed throughout by fieldwork and ethnographic observation. An afterword provides a helpful summation of the authors’ arguments. The introduction, however, written by editor Wil Pansters, is really the book’s heart and soul, making up more than a quarter of the text. In it he presents a general...

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