Over a lifetime of studying Cuban Santeria and other religions related to Orisha worship - a practice also found among the Yoruba in West Africa - Stephan Palmie has grown progressively uneasy with the assumptions inherent in the very term Afro-Cuban religion. In "The Cooking of History" he provides a comprehensive analysis of these assumptions, in the process offering an incisive critique both of the anthropology of religion and of scholarship on the cultural history of the Afro-Atlantic World. Understood largely through its rituals and ceremonies, Santeria and related religions have been a challenge for anthropologists to link to a hypothetical African past. But, Palmie argues, precisely by relying on the notion of an aboriginal African past, and by claiming to authenticate these religions via their findings, anthropologists - some of whom have converted to these religions - have exerted considerable influence upon contemporary practices. Critiquing widespread and damaging simplifications that posit religious practices as stable and self-contained, Palmie calls for a drastic new approach that properly situates cultural origins within the complex social environments and scholarly fields in which they are investigated.