Despite the fact that devotion to Santa Muerte is now the fastest-growing new religious movement in the Americas, Wil Pansters's edited volume is only the second academic book on the devotion in English. One of the major reasons for the thin bibliography is the challenges of conducting field research in a Mexico plagued by the worst narco-violence in recent history. Most major Santa Muerte shrines and temples are in notorious barrios, such as the landmark shrine in Tepito, Mexico City.

And it is precisely the difficulty of doing research on the faith as it is practiced at the grassroots that renders this new anthology problematic. In his introduction Pansters promises a focus on lived religion that is really only fulfilled in two of the collection's six chapters. The Dutch political anthropologist reviews the historiography of the death saint and adopts Danish anthropologist...

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