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Secrets, Gossip, and Gods : The Transformation of Brazilian Candomble - Paul Christopher Johnson

Secrets, Gossip, and Gods

The Transformation of Brazilian Candomble

Hardcover Published: 1st September 2002
ISBN: 9780195150582
Number Of Pages: 240

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In this wide-ranging book Paul Christopher Johnson explores the changing, hidden face of the Afro-Brazilian indigenous religion of CandomblA(c). Despite its importance in Brazilian society, CandomblA(c) has received far less attention than its sister religions Vodou and Santeria. Johnson seeks to fill this void by offering a comprehensive look at the development, beliefs, and practices of CandomblA(c) and exploring its transformation from a secret society of slaves--hidden, persecuted, and marginalized--to a public religion that is very much a part of Brazilian culture. Johnson traces this historical shift and locates the turning point in the creation of Brazilian national identity and a public sphere in the first half of the twentieth century.
His major focus is on the ritual practice of secrecy in CandomblA(c). Like Vodou and Santeria and the African Yoruba religion from which they are descended, CandomblA(c) features a hierarchic series of initiations, with increasing access to secret knowledge at each level. As Johnson shows, the nature and uses of secrecy evolved with the religion. First, secrecy was essential to a society that had to remain hidden from authorities. Later, when CandomblA(c) became known and actively persecuted, its secrecy became a form of resistance as well as an exotic hidden power desired by elites. Finally, as CandomblA(c) became a public religion and a vital part of Brazilian culture, the debate increasingly turned away from the secrets themselves and toward their possessors. It is speech about secrets, and not the content of those secrets, that is now most important in building status, legitimacy and power in CandomblA(c).
Offering many first hand accounts of the rites and rituals of contemporary CandomblA(c), this book provides insight into this influential but little-studied group, while at the same time making a valuable contribution to our understanding of the relationship between religion and society.

"A reader interested in learning about Candomblé would be hard-pressed to find a more comprehensive yet deftly written introduction to the religion and to the intellectual debates that surround it.... Secrets, Gossip and Gods is an ambitious, rich book that succeeds on many levels; it is a good read, to boot. There is little doubt that it will become a point of reference in the field."--History of Religions "Highly recommended"-- American Journal of Sociology "A reader interested in learning about Candomblé would be hard-pressed to find a more comprehensive yet deftly written introduction to the religion and to the intellectual debates that surround it.... Secrets, Gossip and Gods is an ambitious, rich book that succeeds on many levels; it is a good read, to boot. There is little doubt that it will become a point of reference in the field."--History of Religions "Highly recommended"--American Journal of Sociology "In this elegantly written and theoretically sophisticated book, Paul Johnson has made an important contribution to the scholarly discussion not only of Candomblé, but of the relationship between religion and Brazilian society-and, indeed, between religion and society in general." --John Burdick, Author of Blessed Anastacia: Women, Race, and Popular Christianity in Brazil "Johnson has achieved a masterful synthesis of fieldwork and theory, replacing the misleading notion of syncretism and its reified dualisms with the historically nuanced concept of 'secretism.' His book represents a breakthrough in studies of Brazilian Candomblé because it relates local worlds and ritual networks to the rise of nationalism and the bourgeois public sphere." --Andrew Apter, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Chicago

Orthographic Note
Introductionp. 3
Theoretical Boundaries
Secret Sits in the Middlep. 23
What Is Candomble?p. 35
Historical Layers of Secrecy
Slaves and Secretsp. 59
From Tumor to Trophy: The Nation-State and Candomblep. 79
Secrecy and Ritual Practice
Public Space to Secret Place: Initiation and the Logic of Passagep. 103
Signifying the Street in Outbound Ritesp. 131
How Secrets Become Public
Public Candomblep. 151
Conclusionp. 179
Notesp. 189
Glossaryp. 201
Bibliographyp. 207
Indexp. 219
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780195150582
ISBN-10: 0195150589
Audience: Professional
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 240
Published: 1st September 2002
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.5 x 15.88  x 2.54
Weight (kg): 0.48