School of Social and Political Science

Dr Alejandro Escalante

Job Title

Lecturer in Social Anthropology

Alejandro with his dog, Bramble, at the Old Man of Storr, Isle of Skye, Scotland

Room number

Chrystal Macmillan 4.10

Building (Address)

15a George Square

Post code (Address)


Research interests

Research interests

Anthropology of religion; Black Atlantic religions; Black radicalism; Caribbean theory and philosophy; Caribbean and Latin American anthropology; critical ethnography; decoloniality; feminist anthropology; gender and sexuality studies; human-animal relations; performance studies; race and racialisation; and ritual theory.



Alejandro's research is concerned with how identities are formed, perceived, and undone. In his current research project, he focused on how genderbending performances and minstrel-esque costuming negotiate histories of anti-blackness in Puerto Rico. More narrowly, he focused on one festival character, “la loca,” who appears during Las Fiestas Tradicionales en Honor a Santiago Apóstol, which takes place each July in the Afro-Puerto Rican city of Loíza. Locas are bawdy and ribald personages who simultaneously entice and vex festival goers. Typically played by men in Loíza, locas mix and remix forms of identity through cross-dressing and parodic makeup. Using la loca as a method and theory of analysis, Alejandro traced the ways that performances are tied to identities and how performances can be used to negotiate and upend identities. Aspects of this research have been published in Transgender Studies Quarterly, the Journal of Africana Religions, and a forthcoming chapter, "Playful Masculinity." He is currently working on his first monograph, tentatively titled "Madness: Gender, Race, and Religion in Loíza, Puerto Rico."

Recently, he started research on two new projects. The first extends his work in Loíza and focuses on ancestral devotion and performances of gendered piety in dance. This project considers how female dancers bow before musical drummers to acknowledge the dead before beginning their routine. In a second project, Alejandro is interested in tracing the relationship between religion and revolutionary politics in the Caribbean. Starting with the Haitian Revolution, Alejandro seeks to explore how religion has played an integral role in radical political movements.

Alejandro completed his PhD at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (USA), where he served as Teaching Fellow from 2019–2021. During that time, he was also an Adjunct Instructor at Elon University (USA). Prior to moving to Edinburgh, he was Lecturer in Social Anthropology at King's College London.

Works within

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Publications by user content

Publication Research Explorer link
Escalante A. [Review of] Experiments with power: Obeah and the remaking of religion in Trinidad. Reading Religion. 2022 Jun 17.
Escalante A. [Review of] Passages and afterworlds: Anthropological perspectives on death in the Caribbean. Anthropology Book Forum. 2021 May 3;7.
Escalante A. Sacramental sex/uality. In Isherwood L, von der Horst D, editors, Contemporary theological approaches to sexuality. New York: Routledge. 2020. p. 313-323
Escalante A. [Review of] Escenas Transcaribeñas: Ensayos Sobre Teatro, Performance y Cultura. sx salon. 2019 Oct 31;32.
Escalante A. [Review of] The Fetish Revisited: Marx, Freud, and the Gods Black People Make. Reading Religion. 2019 Sep 25.
Escalante A. Trans* Atlantic religion: Gender ideology and spirit possession in Cuban Santería. TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly (TSQ). 2019 Aug 1;6(3):386-399.
Escalante AS. [Review of] Biblical porn: Affect, labor, and pastor Mark Driscoll’s evangelical empire, by Jessica Johnson. Religion and Gender. 2019 Jul 24;9(1):115-118.
Escalante A. [Review of] Addicted to Christ: Remaking Men in Puerto Rican Pentecostal Drug Ministries. Reading Religion. 2019 Mar 19.
Escalante A. The long arc of Islamophobia: African slavery, Islam, and the Caribbean world. Journal of Africana Religions. 2019 Jan 15;7(1):179-186.
Escalante A. [Review of] Erotic Islands: Art and Activism in the Queer Caribbean. ASAP Journal. 2018 Dec 13.
Escalante A. [Review of] Cachita’s streets: The Virgin of Charity, Race, and Revolution in Cuba. Journal of World Christianity. 2018 Dec 12;8(2):198-201.
Escalante A. [Review of] Anatomically Speaking: Ungendered Flesh and the Science of Sex,” in Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity. Black Perspectives. 2018 Dec 4.
Escalante A. [Review of] Jihad in West African During the Age of Revolutions. Reading Religion. 2018 Jul 6.
Escalante A. From Argentina to Scotland to Mexico: Indecent theology and erotic phenomenology at the Mexico-US Border. Feminist Theology. 2018 May;26(3):213-228.
Escalante A. [Review of] Sexual Disorientations: Queer Temporalities, Affects, Theologies. Reading Religion. 2018 Mar 19.