Elaine Penagos


BA, University of Miami / MA, University of Denver / PhD, Candler School of Theology, Emory University (Present)


United Church of Christ


Elaine is a first-generation multicultural Latina from Cuban and Colombian heritage. Her interests lie at the multiple intersections of religion, identity, and materiality in Afro-Cuban and Latinx religious cultures. Elaine approaches the study of religion largely from a cultural context, and argues that religious traditions, especially those emerging from African and Indigenous cultures, are best understood through the creative outputs of practitioners, paying close attention to the various forms of art which practitioners create. Elaine’s work primarily explores storytelling, focusing on the patakís, the mythological stories of West African deities known as the orisha. Her dissertation research examines the power, potential, and theo-sociological implications of reimagining religious worlds through Santería/Lucumí stories.