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Africans in Brazil and Afro-Brazilian Religion and Culture

Summary and Keywords

Of the estimated 4.9 million African captives disembarked in Brazil, 70 % were shipped from Central Africa, 24 % from West Africa, and the remaining 6 % from the East Coast of the continent. Despite their diverse political and cultural backgrounds, Africans were classified by slavers with a discrete number of generic categories often referred to as “nations.” The enslaved appropriation of such external labels, like Mina and Angola—distinguishing Western and Central Africans respectively—resulted in the formation of new collective identities. The novel ways of colonial belonging and behavior shaped and expressed themselves as distinct forms of Afro-Brazilian culture when organized around social institutions such as Catholic lay brotherhoods or other African-inspired associative dynamics. Religious practice, including music, language, bodily performance, cooking and dress, became a privileged domain for African cultural production, subsequently irradiating into other secular manifestations. The colonial calundu, concerned with healing and oracular functionalities, greatly influenced by the Bantu-speaking people, coexisted and intermingled with the more ecclesiastical West-African traditions of initiatory ritual dedicated to the worship of multiple deities. Despite common elements of celebration, healing and mediumship, Afro-Brazilian religious pluralism was historically marked by an extraordinary eclecticism. Different local interactions with the hegemonic Iberian Catholicism, Amerindian healing practices and French Spiritism, together with the circulation of people and ideas between Africa and Brazil after the end of the Atlantic slave trade, led to a wide range of regional variation. This heterogeneous Afro-Brazilian religious field, prone to continuous discrimination and selective tolerance by the authorities, is stressed by a discursive contrast between the alleged traditional pure African forms and the mixed syncretic Brazilian ones, all claiming their share of legitimacy and ritual efficiency.

Keywords: Portuguese slave trade, colonial Brazil, African nations, Afro-Brazilian culture, Afro-Brazilian religion, Calundu, Candomblé

Despite modern and contemporary processes of communication and exchange between both sides of the Atlantic, the main African contribution to Brazilian culture was a direct consequence of the slave trade history. Between 1501 and 1856, the Portuguese crown and subsequently private Portuguese and Brazilian traders were responsible for the shipment of nearly half of the total enslaved Africans who disembarked alive in the Americas (5.1 million of 10.7 million).1 These tragic demographics constitute a fundamental factor but do not explain on their own the complex processes of Afro-Brazilian cultural formation.

On the one hand there was the sociocultural diversity of enslaved Africans themselves which varied through time and space and provided differentiated contributions to the shaping of colonial society. On the other hand, there were the Amerindian and Iberian cultures with which Africans interacted in the plantation, mining and urban settings. The unequal power relationships which structured America’s slave societies were also a critical factor that determined the possibilities of cultural formation. In this regard African cultural creativity and production always operated dialectically in a position of subalternity against and within the hegemonic European Christian values and institutions. Nonetheless the resulting Creole black culture developed in Brazilian territory was extremely rich, dynamic and diverse.2 Religious values and practices are perhaps one of its most notorious domains of expression. This text examines the presence of Africans in Brazil and their cultural agency from the sixteenth to the late 19th century.

Portuguese–Brazilian Slave Trade Routes and Africans’ Cultural Diversity

The enslaved Africans who arrived in Brazil originated from politically and culturally diverse societies, often situated near the coast, but sometimes located in the hinterlands hundreds of miles from the sea. Brought in caravans through long routes, captives ended up being embarked in three main regions: West Africa, or the coastline extending from the Senegal River (in present-day Senegal) to Cape Lopez, on the Equator (in present-day Gabon); West-Central Africa, corresponding to the littoral extending from Cape Lopez to the frontier of present-day Angola and Namibia; and the East Coast, in present-day Mozambique.

Recent historical studies estimate that of the 4.9 million captives disembarked in Brazil 70 % were shipped from Central Africa, 24 % from West Africa, and the remaining 6 % from the East Coast. This would mean that approximately 3,400,000 Central Africans and 1,200,000 West Africans arrived in Brazil between 1501 and 1856.3 These figures and corresponding relative percentages, however, must be taken with caution since they could be either over- or underestimated. For instance, between 1580 and 1640, slavers departing from Cacheu and Luanda declared Brazil as their destination for customs purposes when in fact they were sailing to the Caribbean.4 And to the contrary, when the slave trade was forbidden above the Equator (1811–1831) slavers claimed their human cargo came from Central Africa, when its real origin was West Africa. Also, when all Atlantic slave trade was declared illegal in Brazil (1831–1856) there were many clandestine disembarkations unaccounted for in the statistics.

Despite these analytical difficulties, it is possible to identify four main routes of the Portuguese–Brazilian slave trade. The first and the latest to develop connected the Upper Guinee, stretching from the river Senegal to Cape Monte (now Liberia), with the region of the Amazon basin in North Brazil, known in colonial times as Capitania de Grão Para e Maranhão. This was a triangular route that included Lisbon as the starting and ending commercial vertex. It acquired importance during the second half of the 18th century, with the reforms of the Marquis de Pombal, when he created a state company (Companhia Geral de Grão Para e Maranhão) which monopolized the supply of slave labor to the region.

The cultural diversity of the Upper Guinee is evident in its linguistic richness, with the heterogeneous family of Western Atlantic languages on the coast (Wolof, Serer, Balanta, Fula, Temne, etc.) and the most homogeneous family of Mande languages (Mandinka, Soninke, Bambara, etc.) in the hinterland. In addition to the islands of Cape Verde, the main enclaves of the Portuguese trade in this region were the ports of Cacheu and Bissau (in present-day Guinea Bissau). It is estimated that the captives of Upper Guinee made up almost 10 % of the West Africans transferred to Brazil.

Sometimes subsumed under the generic terms Cacheu or Mandinga, but also referred to as Angico, Balanta, Bayuna, Bijagó, Papel, Fula or Fulupo, Brame, Bambara, they were mainly recruited in the North Brazilian cotton and rice plantations. Despite their late arrival, at their peak, they accounted for up to 62 % of the African population of Grão Para and Maranhão. In early 19th century, however, their relative proportion decreased in favor of Central Africans and Creoles.5

The second, and most important, slave trade route in West Africa connected the northeast of Brazil (Bahia and Pernambuco) with the Mina Coast, as the Portuguese called the littoral that extends east of the castle of São Jorge da Mina (in present-day Ghana) to the region of the river Lagos (in present-day Nigeria). The languages of the Kwa family spoken in this wide area are more homogeneous than those of the Upper Guinee, though a western Kwa language such as Akan is unintelligible to speakers of an eastern one, such as Yoruba. During the period of the slave trade, Europeans (Portuguese, English, Dutch, French, Germans, and Danes) set up several factories and fortresses along the more than 370 miles (600 kilometers) of the Mina Coast. The trade destined for Brazil, however, was concentrated on the Slave Coast, the eastern part of the Mina Coast, running from the river Volta to the river Lagos. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the hegemonic powers in this region were the kingdoms of Dahomey (in present-day Benin) and Oyo (in Nigeria). On their coast, several ports with variable political fortune were involved in the trade, the most active being, from west to east: Little Popo, Grand Popo, Ouidah, Jakin, Epe, Porto Novo, Apa, Badagri and Lagos (Onim). It is estimated that almost three-quarters (74 %) of the West Africans landed in Brazil came from the Mina Coast.

Although their presence was already documented in the 17th century, their arrival intensified with the increase and diversification of the intercontinental trade routes in the 18th century. Bahia was their main port of entry. Besides its relative geographical proximity to the African continent, its merchants counted on the tobacco produced in the Recôncavo (the fertile area surrounding the bay of Salvador), a commodity demanded by the Mina Coast merchants for the sale of captives.6 Tobacco availability—along with sugarcane spirits (cachaça) and gold smuggled from Minas Gerais—favored a continuous bilateral relationship between Bahia and the Mina Coast, especially with the port of Ouidah where, in 1721, the Portuguese erected the fortress of São João Batista de Ajudá, a strategic enclave serving the interests of Bahia.

In the 1720s, the kingdoms of Allada and Ouidah were conquered by the militarized inland kingdom of Dahomey which launched yearly campaigns against neighboring countries in search of captives to sell to the Europeans. Thus, many African speakers of Gbe languages (a subgroup of the Kwa family), such as the Hula, Hueda, Eve, Adja, Aizo, Ouemenu, Savalu, Agonli, Mahi, and also speakers of Yoruba languages, such as the Egbas, Egbados, Saves, Anagos, etc., were shipped to Brazil.

From 1750, the most eastern ports of the Mina Coast, such as Porto Novo, Badagri and, above all, Lagos, under the influence of the mighty kingdom of Oyo, began to attract the Portuguese-Brazilian traders, offering commercial advantages and security. The displacement of the slave trade towards the east was accentuated at the end of the century with the political collapse of Oyo. The holy war or jihad launched by the Fulani of the Sokoto caliphate in 1804 plunged the region into successive civil wars, provoking a growing supply of Yoruba-speaking captives (Oyo, Egba, Ijebu, Ijexa, Ketu, Save), but also of other Islamized peoples of the interior, such as the Haussa, Fulani, Bariba, Nupe (Tapa), Bornu. This new influx transformed the ethnic profile of West Africans, particularly in Bahia where these groups became demographically dominant among the slave population.

Another relevant region was the bight of Biafra running east of Lagos, in the Niger delta, with ports such as Old and New Calabar, Bony etc. It acquired importance in the early decades of the 19th century, and the enslaved embarked in this area numbered more than 10 % of the West Africans of Brazil. The islands of São Tomé and Príncipe, where the ships that returned to Brazil were to pass after the purchase of slaves on the Mina Coast, were a strategic enclave for the Portuguese crown customs control.

Despite West Africa’s significance in the Portuguese slave trade, the route connecting Rio de Janeiro with Central Africa was the most important demographically speaking. The Portuguese had established relationships with the kingdom of Kongo (with its capital Salvador in the upper Zaire River) in the late fifteenth century, but it was from the mid-17th century onwards, with the expulsion of the Dutch and the consolidation of the Portuguese colonial enclave of Angola, that the flux of slaves became more intense, mainly fueled by the demand of Brazilian sugar production. Portuguese political and military presence in Luanda enabled alliances with local elites and access to interior kingdoms such as Pombo, Dembo, Matamba, Ndongo, and the eastern territories of the fearful Jaga and Imbangala, providing a persistent supply of captives, through the Cassange and other hinterland markets. However, the supply of slaves in the coastal regions was also continuous throughout the years. As a result, the maritime liaison between Luanda and Rio de Janeiro, subsidized by neighboring ports such as Loango, Malembo, Cabinda, and Benguela, became the most robust bilateral slave trade route in the Atlantic.

Despite their wide ethnic variability, the Central African groups most affected by the slave trade presented a relative cultural homogeneity grounded on their common Bantu linguistic base. The Kikongo, spoken by the Kongo people of the lower river Zaire, and the Kimbundu and Umbundu, spoken respectively by the Mbundu and Ovimbundu living in the Angola savannas, were relatively close languages that allowed for quick communication among its speakers. Linguistic proximity was correlated with similar cosmologic values and religious practices which favored their subsequent Diasporic Bantu cultural convergence. For instance, kinship groups were attached to territorial and ancestral spirits by means of continuous processes of personal revelation which engendered a democratic priesthood of nganga and kimbanda, responsible to produce nkisi (a Kikongo word to refer to empowered objects) or umbanda (a Kimbundu word to refer to medicine or healing science). All these terms were transported to Brazil and are still well-known in the religious domain, albeit with semantic variation.

Though the importation of Central Africans was relentless throughout the slave trade period it became particularly intense in its final phase. The Haitian revolution in the 1790s and the British abolitionist campaign in the early 19th century, together with the industrial revolution, provoked a structural change in the world economy. The cessation of slave trade in the British and French Caribbean and the United States opened space for Brazil and Cuba to become the last and major markets for enslaved work force. These transformations had a profound impact in Brazil, promoting a shift of investments from the northeast sugar plantations (Bahia and Pernambuco) to the southeast coffee plantations (São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro), initiating what historians have called the “second slavery,” more massive and exploitative.7 Between 1780 and 1850, particularly during the last two decades coinciding with the illegal trade period, more than half (54 %) of the Central Africans arriving in Brazil were concentrated in the coffee plantations of São Paulo and the Paraiba valley in Rio de Janeiro. It was also during the first half of the 19th century that the internal slave trade started to increase and many West Africans from Bahia were sold into the southeast of the country.

The fourth main route of the Portuguese slave trade connected Brazil with the coast of East Africa. Though the Portuguese presence in Mozambique dates from the 16th century, the slave trade with Brazil only became significant in the 19th century. Most of the enslaved Africans in this area were also Bantu-speaking people. Their demographic significance can be attested in the cemetery of the Valongo slave port in Rio de Janeiro. Between 1824 and 1830, 11 % of those buried there were Mozambique, 9 % Quilimane and 4 % Inhambane. Teeth analysis also identified 50 young Macuas.8

From the above overview it becomes apparent that the distribution of Africans in Brazilian territory was uneven, both in time and space. In absolute terms, most Africans concentrated in the southeast (48 %), followed by Bahia (32 %), Pernambuco (17.5 %) and Grão Para e Maranhão (3 %).9 Yet in the early 18th century, with the discovery of gold in the hinterland region of Minas Gerais, many of those disembarked in Bahia and Rio de Janeiro were sent to work in the mines. This inner migration lasted throughout the century and had a significant impact on the demographics of African distribution in the country. Hence, the effects of the Atlantic slave trade did not end in the coastal areas and spread into the interiors; though in minor numbers, Africans reached the semiarid region of the sertão and the Amazon area too.

African Nations and the Formation of New Collective Identities

In order to interpret the formation of Afro-Brazilian culture, scholars have paid special attention to the ways in which enslaved and freed Africans were classified and named themselves. Following a contemporary political idiom, Europeans often labelled African forms of collective identity as “nations.” In the mid-17th century, for instance, the Blackman regiment which fought against the Dutch occupation in Pernambuco was said to be composed of four “nations”: Mina, Arda, Angola and Creole.10

Except for Creole, the names of these nations corresponded to labels slave traders and slave owners used to classify their African captives, but did not necessarily refer to the latter’s ethnic origins. The “nations” usually designated the ports, kingdoms, islands, or geographical areas from which Africans had been shipped to the New World. For example, slaves of the Arda nation (a phonetic variant of Allada) were not the natives of the homonymous West African kingdom, but rather captives sold in that kingdom or by its merchants.

At the beginning, “Mina” was a term used to designate Africans embarked in the castle of São Jorge da Mina (founded by the Portuguese between 1482 and 1488). Next, however, it became a generic expression to designate any enslaved imported from the Mina Coast. “Mina” became the most popular category to identify West Africans in Brazil. Yet the names of nations could acquire different contents according to different times and places. In 19th-century Bahia, for example, “Mina” could also have a restricted meaning, referring specifically to Africans embarked in Little Popo, the port of the Gen kingdom in the Mina Coast.

There were also other broad categories to refer to West Africans, though less comprehensive than “Mina.” In Bahia, the Gbe-speaking peoples were called Jeje (the first evidence of a “Geige” slave appears in 1711), while the Yoruba speakers were known as Nago (the first record appears in 1718 in Minas Gerais). Following the same logic, the ethnonym of an originally small group became increasingly generic, including a plurality of previously heterogeneous groups. For instance, the Nago nation in Brazil encompassed several ethnicities which in Africa were politically and culturally differentiated (i.e. Egba, Oyo, Ifé, Ijesha, Ketu).

Similar processes affected Central Africans, identified as belonging to the Angola, Congo, Benguela, or Cabinda nations. This classification usually meant the enslaved had been embarked in those coastal enclaves, namely the port of Luanda in Angola, though they could have been brought from distant regions in the hinterland. Indeed, post-mortem inventories and other documents register the names of several nations such as Rebolo, Pombo, Ganguela, Masangano, Monjolo, Casange, Dongo, and Pemba. Nonetheless, the main category encompassing most of these Bantu-speaking people was Angola and to a lesser degree Congo and Benguela.

Therefore, Mina and Angola became the widest categories to signal the basic contrast between West and Central Africans. When the mining activity was flourishing in Minas Gerais, a propaganda dispute emerged between the Lisbon merchants in Rio de Janeiro, promoting their Angola captives, and the Bahian merchants, promoting their Mina ones. This commercial rivalry eventually created a stereotyped opposition between the two nations. The Mina, in spite of their reputation as rebels, were appreciated as “the best gold miners in Brazil” or as a letter from 1726 put it: “no miner can live without a Mina black woman,” such was their skill in bringing good fortune. On the other hand, the Angola were portrayed as docile and obedient, though not escaping derogatory associations with frailty.11

Between 1710 and 1730, in Vila Rica and Vila do Carmo, the most important mining centers, the Mina accounted for 57 % of the enslaved population, compared with 28 % of Angola. Roughly, there were two Mina for each Angola, a proportion like that found in Bahia in the 18th century.12 The importance of the Mina in Minas Gerais was such that in 1741 the Portuguese Antonio da Costa Peixoto published a vocabulary of the “General Language of Mina” so that slave-owners could understand the speech of their captives as a means of control. The lexical and grammatical basis of this lingua franca corresponded to the Gbe languages, suggesting that most of the Mina of Minas Gerais (and probably of Bahia) originated from Dahomey and its surrounding countries.13

Inversely, in the southeast, Pernambuco and, from the 19th century onwards, in Maranhão and Pará, the Angola nation constituted the majority of the enslaved population. For instance, between 1811 and 1856, in Rio de Janeiro, 93 % of the disembarked Africans were Bantu-speaking, 75 % from Central Africa and 18 % from East Africa.14 Though the relative proportion between Angola and Mina varied through time and space, their demographic divide provides a clue to interpret cultural formation.

An important consequence of these processes of classification was that, if at the beginning the names of nations were trademarks imposed by slavers to control their human merchandise, they were gradually appropriated by Africans as new forms of collective self-identification. These unifying diasporic identities and the correlate associative dynamics helped them to organize and to face the adversity of the slave colonial society. These novel ways of sharing and belonging were favored by the recognition of cultural affinities, most importantly by linguistic intelligibility.

When faced with civil or ecclesiastical authorities or even when dealing with Brazilian born Creoles, a West African could be identified or self-identify with broad categories such as Black (preto), African, or Mina. Facing an Angola, whose language he did not understand, he would assume the corresponding and contrasting Mina or Jeje identities, but when among other Jeje, he would retrieve his original ethnicity and become Mahi, Savalu, or Dagomé. Hence, African processes of ethnic identification were dynamic, situational, and relational, using a varied repertoire of categories that did not exclude the memory of their land of origin.

Associative Dynamics and the Formation of Afro-Brazilian Culture

By means of their labor and technical skills, Africans and their Creole descendants played a fundamental role in the production system and social formation of Brazil. Their contribution in the mining, plantation, and urban economies was decisive for the material development of the Portuguese colony, and the subsequent Brazilian empire and republic. Despite the position of subalternity in which they were violently placed, their contribution reached far beyond the structural economic level, resulting in the formation of a dynamic, hybrid, multifaceted Afro-Brazilian culture. The inequality of slavery did not prevent Africans, enslaved and freed, to creatively interact and transform the social environment, appropriating and re-signifying pre-existing African, Amerindian and European cultural heritages. Several scholars have pointed out the critical importance of processes of social institutionalization for the configuration of distinct Afro-American cultures.15 It was only through the creation of social institutions, or forms of recurrent shared behavior and thinking, that culture and identities could consolidate and express.

Catholic lay brotherhoods around the devotion to Lord Jesus, the Virgin Mary, or a saint, were institutions of this kind. Brought by the Portuguese to the colonies as part of their Christian church organization, they facilitated the associative dynamic of Africans, providing them, albeit inadvertently, with a space of relative autonomy. The annual feasts (folias) entangled the organization of “kingdoms” (reinados), according to their homeland ethnic boundaries, and drum playing, singing and dance (batuques), offering an excellent opportunity to express cultural, ethnic, and political diversity.16 These ritual performances provided the basis for the emergence of various forms of secular parades and dramatic representations, such as the Reisados, Maracatus, Bumba-meu-Bois, and many other manifestations of Afro-Brazilian popular culture. The hegemonic Catholic values, liturgy and institutions certainly exerted an influence on Africans, but their appropriation, far from being a simple form of cultural assimilation, could be interpreted as a collective way of resistance and counter-acculturation. While apparently complying with the dominant values and practices, Catholic devotion allowed for the resignification and reactivation of old African spiritual predispositions.17

The liturgy of Catholic baptism, associated with the institution of godparenting, was also replicated by Africans, enablling them to establish social networks and alliances, entangling clientelism, ethnic solidarity and kinship. By these means, Catholic forms of organization, beyond their mutual-aid functionality, offered spaces of political and economic articulation where men of prestige found a fertile ground for promotion.

But in addition to their strategic appropriation of Catholic institutions, Africans were also able to create their own ones, most especially around healing, funerary, and religious practices. The articulation of new modes of organization and association around African religious or spiritual values and practices was instrumental in recreating new spaces of sociability where cultural phenomena of diverse order, ranging through language, dress, culinary, music, body gestures and so on could be cultivated and reproduced. Therefore, only when such institutional conditions were accomplished, was the emergence of an Afro-Brazilian culture possible.

Afro-Brazilian Religious Institutions: Between “Africanness” and “Syncretism”

The knowledges, cosmovisions and ritual practices brought into Brazil by Africans were very diverse and experienced continuous transformations until they were organized into contemporary Afro-Brazilian religions or religions of African matrix. The regional variants of Tambor de Mina in Maranhão, Xango in Pernambuco, Candomblé in Bahia, Macumba in Rio de Janeiro, or Batuque in Rio Grande do Sul, to name just a few of the best-known denominations, were the result of intricate historical processes of cultural genesis and transformation. Centered around a core African ontology and ritual they were shaped through interaction with the surrounding Iberian Catholicism, Amerindian shamanic healing, and Kardecist spiritualism. Although Afro-Brazilian religions present themselves as “traditional” and rooted in a remote African past, they are relatively modern, most of them taking their current form only from the second half of the 19th century onwards.

Afro-Brazilian studies have typically emphasized a separation between religious institutions operating under the spell of Jeje and Nago West African traditions and others subject to the Congo-Angola Central African cultural dynamics. The former, valued for their supposed ritual purity and African fidelity, would include Tambor de Mina, Xangô and Candomblé, rooted in the northeast of the country. In them drum-playing, liturgical use of African languages, divination techniques such as the cowries’ game, initiation processes and animal sacrifices, would be characteristic. The latter, supposedly more permeable to change and mixture, would include Caboclo Candomblé, Cabula (now extinct), Macumba, Kimbanda and, ultimately, Umbanda, the national religion born in the twentieth century in the south of the country. In these, initiation and animal sacrifice would be less prominent and Portuguese language almost exclusive; consultations with Brazilian spiritual entities such as Caboclos, Mestres, and Encantados would replace divination.

If this gross characterization of religious institutions in terms of West and Central African matrices is too schematic and problematic, it is possible, nonetheless, to think of a religious field strained by a tension between Africanness and Brazilianness. Practices of alleged African origin are contrasted to others perceived as being less so, mutually defining each other by both difference and similitude. After all, these religiosities share a celebratory dimension, a healing orientation, and the phenomenon of possession or mediumship, the faculty whereby spiritual entities manifest through the body of their followers or devotees. This common denominator set facilitates the circulation of people and ritual elements between different institutional domains and renders attempts to draw clear boundaries between them useless.

As in Brazil, in the African continent religious beliefs and practices rarely constituted a homogeneous and stable system, just as they lacked a fixed pantheon. They have always undergone continuous revision processes, including new elements and excluding others. Despite their cultural diversity, Africans shared some beliefs or “cognitive orientations.”18 One is that the visible world of the living corresponds to an invisible “other world,” a dwelling of gods, ancestors, spirits and other mysterious forces. It is believed that these entities are responsible for maintaining life in this world. Religion would thus be any practice involving the interaction between these two regimes of existence: a prayer, an offering, the dance of the embodied god, but also the enthronement of a chief, the preparation of a mask, a funeral, a healing ritual, or an oracular consultation. Communication with the invisible world, however, is the responsibility of specialists, holders of secret knowledge that allows them to deal with dangerous gods who, as well as curing and solving problems, can inflict punishment. By its emphasis on sustaining life, an important part of African religious practice is to provide fortune (health, fertility, prosperity) and to protect from misfortune (disease, infertility, poverty). Without disregarding life beyond death, these religiosities have a strong pragmatic approach and are oriented to solving problems in this world.19

African autochthonous religions have no dogma or doctrine; no one prescribes what a person should believe, and affiliation to them is based above all on ritual participation, mediated by bodily experience. The non-dogmatic character and the orientation to action, combined with the flexibility to integrate new elements and to reinterpret them according to old patterns, have resulted in a religious pluralism of extraordinary eclecticism. This combination of factors was perhaps the main cultural continuity that Africans brought from their original land and that allowed the “creative synthesis” that took place in the Diaspora. In this sense, African and Afro-American religions are not traditional, if “traditional” implies absence of change and movement.20

From Calundu to Candomblé: The Associative Process

Since their arrival in Brazil in the sixteenth century, African men and women have individually or collectively activated their ritual knowledge and practices to face the adversity of the new slave society. By charisma or previous learning, some of them succeeded in recruiting followers, generating religious movements of varying duration that could be extinguished without leaving a trace, or be absorbed by others of later arrival. Although sparse, the documentation of the 17th and 18th centuries points to the ubiquity of the so-called Calundu. This term of Bantu origin referred to African ritual practices and gatherings, which could involve collective dances and spirit possession, but whose main function was divination (dar ventura) and healing, including in the latter techniques of exorcism (tirar diabo) and the preparation of sacred medicines, empowered objects or spells (feitiços, bolsas de mandinga) for various propitiatory and defensive purposes, such as taming the master’s fury. Because of its therapeutic and oracular dimension, the colonial Calundu was usually conducted by a specialist who acted individually, perhaps assisted by a few attendants, interacting with his or her clients, moving wherever his or her services were required, without a pre-established calendar.

Parallel to the Calundu, in the 18th century, there is evidence of devotional practices of worship of gods installed on permanent shrines who received food offerings and periodic sacrifices. This form of religiosity involved a collective organization around a hierarchical priesthood and the celebration of ceremonies that could last for days on end and attract many followers. In 1747, in Paracatu (Minas Gerais), a dance called Acotundá, led by a group of Courana (probably the Hula of Ouidah in West Africa) was denounced. In addition to the mediumistic trance of several participants, there is mention of a “holy puppet of their land,” which they “bestowed” with various pots of raw and cooked herbs around which they danced.21 In 1780, in Recife (Pernambuco), the Count of Povolide also deplored the “superstitious dances” organized in “houses and farms” by the “blacks of the Mina Coast” during the feasts of the Catholic brotherhoods, “with altar of idols” and various types of offerings.

As the above cases suggest, the formation of these religious congregations in houses and farms was common among the Mina and was probably inspired by the vodun cults of the Jeje and the orisha cults of the Nago, both with a long institutional tradition in this realm. That does not mean that the Congo-Angola people were not familiar with the worship of kin ancestral lineage spirits or territorial tutelar spirits organized in collective devotions too. Widespread throughout Central Africa, many of these institutions, generically called “cults of affliction” or “ngoma” by scholars, were characterized by a strong healing orientation, each congregation often preserving specialized knowledge of a specific disease or problem.22 In that sense the Congo-Angola traditions are usually reputed to have greatly contributed to the colonial Calundu in Brazil.

On the other hand, the West African dances mentioned above suggest a devotional model characterized by the periodic recruitment of novices through complex processes of initiation which, in turn, determine the priestly hierarchy of the group. Based on the notion that each person is constituted by a multiplicity of agencies, to whom the devotee must be ritually consecrated, religious congregations ended up worshipping multiple deities. The various gods, fixed on permanent shrines, trees, or other natural elements, were celebrated sequentially in public ceremonies, involving circular dances, solo-chorus singing and iron bell and drum orchestra. This conventual organizational model seems to have responded to the associative demands of different ethnic groups, favoring its replication at different scales and with diverse ritual specificities.

Such congregations could emerge as extensions of domestic cults, kept within the household, often dedicated to a single African or Catholic saint, associated with the founder of the family. Indeed, the proliferation of religious congregations (terreiro) required Africans to develop kinship networks, promoting cooperation with their Creole offspring, to ensure enough participants and generational continuity. Thus, the biological family and the household were often entangled and at the base of the religious group, not by chance referred to as the “family in saintness” (família de santo). On the other hand, the leaders of these extra-domestic communities needed material resources to guarantee the control over the land or sacred space where they had installed their shrines, as well as to celebrate lengthy, intricate, and costly ceremonies. Hence, the economy of these congregations greatly benefited from the support and participation of the more prosperous freedmen.

It was not until the 19th century that the necessary socioeconomic conditions were in place for the articulation of a network of such extra-domestic religious congregations, both in urban and rural contexts with a high African density. Their cooperation led to the development of a relative consensus on ritual protocols, calendars (often coinciding with Catholic feasts), and pantheons. These shared basic elements emerged hand in hand with the liturgical singularities of each house or temple (languages, songs, drum rhythms, gods, rites), stemming from the ethnic origins of its founders, the ritual traditions in which they were initiated or their personal idiosyncrasies. In this intra-African dialogue, the different ritual modalities were named with a similar “nation” repertoire as the one used during the Atlantic slave trade period.

Temples or terreiros self-identified as belonging to the Jeje nation, when worshipping the vodun, the Nago nation, when worshiping the orishas or the Angola nation, when worshiping the inquices (nkisi). Following the same multi-layered colonial processes of Africans’ identification, houses could qualify their nation with a second more restricted African ethnonym such as Jeje-Mahi, Jeje-Savalu, Nago-Ketu, Nago-Ijexá, or Angola-Muxicongo. At the same time, hybrid and juxtaposed ritual forms emerged, designated with terms such as Nago-Vodun, “crossed-line” (linha cruzada), or Ketu-Angola among many others.

In Bahia, the oldest and still active terreiros of Candomblé, such as the Casa Branca, Gantois and Alaketu, all of Ketu nation, date back to the first half of the 19th century.23 There is notice of Candomblé houses of Muslim influence and Egungun cults, dedicated to the worship of Yoruba ancestors too. In São Luis of Maranhão, Jeje and Nago Africans founded the Casa das Minas (House of the Mina) and the Casa de Nagô respectively in the middle of that century.24 In the 1860s, African freedmen from Bahia migrated to Rio de Janeiro, allowing for the circulation of news, such as the trial of the famous sorcerer Juca Rosa, in 1871.25 Bahian Mina migration to the court exported the Nago Candomblé to the port slums of Rio de Janeiro, creating a neighborhood called Little Africa, operating side by side with the Bantu macumbas and cabulas organized by the embanda priests.26 Orisha priests like Bamboxê and Tio Joaquim travelled between Salvador, Recife, Rio de Janeiro and Lagos. The house of Pai Adão, the first temple of Xango in Pernambuco, is said to have been founded with their help around 1875. From Lagos they brought the latest news, reinforcing the Yoruba-Nago pride of the temples they frequented.27 Ladies of Ouidah travelled to Brazil to be treated by local babalorisha (orisha priests) and the wealthiest freedmen sent their children to Africa to “study religion.” That is, the formation of Afro-Brazilian religions in imperial Brazil was fueled by an intense interprovincial and Atlantic circulation of people and ideas that went well beyond the end of the slave trade in 1850. In this Atlantic circuit, the discourse of Yoruba identity, associated with orisha cults, was used to confer prestige and authority to certain houses.28

At the same time, Afro-indigenous dialogues flourished in the Northern semiarid hinterlands (sertões), giving birth to religious institutions such as the Toré, Pajelança, Jurema or Catimbó. In Maranhão, in 1878, runaway blacks from the Limoeiro quilombo (fugitive slaves’ community) used the bunch of feathers and rattle (pena emaracá) typical of the Tupi healer (pajé) to identify sorcerers in their community.29 The co-participation in various kinds of ritual favored the circulation of liturgical elements and the juxtaposition in the same temple of the “African” circular dance and the “European” Spiritism table. Founded in the city of São Luis in 1889, the Terreiro da Turquia included in its pantheon caboclos such as King of Turkey, gentile spirits of the European nobility such as Don Luis King of France, as well as Amerindian spirits and others of princesses, Amazonian dolphins, cowboys and so on. The spiritual fields of Brazilian caboclo, mestre and encantado multiplied next to the most distant African orisha, vodun and inquice.30

In Maranhão, the Caboclo spirits include representatives of various social groups (sailors, cowboys), but in other regions they are usually associated with Indian spirits, icons of the original inhabitants of the land and, therefore, Brazilianness. Despite the historical African–Indian continuous contacts, the Caboclo Candomblé is often considered a derivate product of the Angola Candomblé, and as evidence of the latter’s tendency to assimilation and syncretism. Yet other interpretations suggest the Caboclo worship could be a diasporic replica of the widespread Central African tradition whereby migrant groups paid homage to the “spirit owners of the land.”31

With probable antecedents in the 19th century, new ritual variants such as the Jaré of Chapada Diamantina (Bahia), the Terecô of Codo (Maranhão), the Peji of Jacobina (Bahia), the Babassuê of Belem (Pará), the latter imported from Maranhão, began to appear in the post-abolition period. African religiosity was also present in other dances and street celebrations such as the Afoxé, Maracatu, Bumba-Meu-Boi, Caxambu, or Jongo, the latter held around the bonfire, dancing by pairs, to the sound of the drum and chants that made people disappear or a banana tree ripen in just one night.

Between Concealment and Social Visibility

From the colonial period, the religiosities of African matrix occupied a position of subalternity in front of the hegemony of Catholicism. From the perspective of church orthodoxy, Afro-descendants’ ritual practices were superstition, witchcraft, idolatry, magic, never religion. Persecution and discrimination forced Africans to develop tactics of concealment that reinforced the secrecy proper to initiation religions. Syncretism, or the correspondence between Catholic saints and African saints, could be a strategy of concealment, or perhaps a way of appropriating, by imitation, the master’s spiritual universe to better understand and control it. And yet the possibility of sincere Catholic conversion or affiliation cannot be disregarded, since the cumulative juxtaposition of spiritual resources is a common African dynamic.

The discourse of demonization imposed by the Church in colonial times was followed in the post abolition period by the criminalization of the penal codes, the pathologization of doctors and the denunciation of journalists. However, the policy of repression has historically alternated with a certain selective tolerance. In most regions, a combination of acceptable practices labelled as “religion” and others proscribed as dangerous and syncretic, often associated with magic and witchcraft, emerged. Thus, the Tambor de Mina in front of the Pajelança; the Xango in front of the Jurema, the Ketu Candomblé in front of the Caboclo Candomblé, the Nago Batuque in front of the “crossed line.” This competition for legitimacy was subsequently reinforced by the external discourse of intellectuals praising “African purity” and decrying the dangers of “low Spiritism.”32

In a slave society in which Africans had no political space, religion eventually became the “power of the weak.” Afro-Brazilian temples, like Catholic brotherhoods, promoted forms of black associativism with the capacity for collective mobilization. Not by chance in the first half of the 19th century in Bahia, Candomblé temples were at the origin of several slave revolts.33 Besides this confrontational dynamic, Afro-Brazilian religions re-created and perpetuated worldviews, knowledge and habits that challenged dominant Western values. Though they shared with Christians the belief in the possibility of divine revelation, the ontological conception of the person as a multiplicity of agencies and the ambiguous morality attributed to the gods were radical differences. The religious group offered the chance to experience other forms of sociability, combining communal solidarity (not exempt from conflict), the primacy of the elders’ authority and an ideology of ancestrality. Yet the terreiro cannot be reduced to a mere “refuge” from slavery or an alternative space of reparation and black pan-African identity.34 For their reproductive success, Afro-Brazilian temples needed some degree of interaction with the wider white and mixed-race society, often mediated through ritual services. These strategic alliances and negotiations provoked a continuous strain between social concealment and visibility, a tension that persists. Hence, the contemporary state’s selective valorization of Afro-Brazilian religions and the Black movements’ discourse of cultural resistance are faced with the growing intolerance of a new Christian fundamentalism.

Religious forms of ritual association provided the generative space for a myriad of other cultural forms. Africans contributed to regional cuisines with palm oil, for example, and influenced the rhythmic forms of national musicality with Samba and many other genres. Hybrid form of dance and martial arts, Capoeira has the imprint of Central Africa and the exuberance of contemporary Brazilian Carnival was certainly enriched by black creativity. This cultural heritage, plural and complex, is still unfolding in the intellectual history of the country, centering debates on black identities, national heritage and public policies that cut across the academy, the Black movements and the state. Moreover, transnational dynamics around Yoruba culture continue to connect Brazil with the African continent and its Atlantic diaspora.

Discussion of the Literature

The literature on African ethnic diversity in Brazil was initially mainly circumscribed to socio-anthropological studies.35 Only in the 1970s did it gain notoriety among historians of slavery and the slave trade.36 In the last three decades, however, there has been an upsurge of historical research on African identities in Brazil contributing a more solid empirical basis and regional approaches.37

As regards Afro-Brazilian religions and cultures, after Nina Rodrigues’ pioneering work, this field of study was also dominated by anthropological synchronic approaches, until the 2000s when it experienced what one might call a historical turn, somehow induced by contemporary politics of memory. Yet, history’s approximation to cultural anthropology in the 1980s had already led historians to examine Inquisition records pertaining to witchcraft accusations in colonial Brazil.38

Only recently, however, have scholars looked more systematically at the 19th century, when Afro-Brazilian religions became institutionalized. Mostly based on police records and newspaper articles, but also comparing such data with oral traditions, they have analyzed Candomblé’s 19th-century social composition and its practitioners’ relations of conflict and negotiation with the ruling classes.39 In several cases the historical turn aligned with a biographical approach.40

Following the classic antagonism that has long dominated the history of Afro-American studies and that became central from the 1970s, Brazilianist historians and anthropologists were divided between those who read Afro-Brazilian religions and cultures as a direct African transfer, stressing continuity, the persistence of tradition and ultimately cultural resistance, and those who emphasized American Creole creativity, highlighting African discontinuity, modernity and cultural synthesis. The former approach is associated with the Heskovitian memory-retention model and is usually contrasted to the Mintz and Price creolization model that underscores the critical role of slave societies in shaping the new Afro-American cultures.41

In Brazil this tension somehow reverberates in the antagonism between proponents of the “Afro-Brazilianist tradition” and “social constructionist critics.”42 The former include the pioneers of Afro-Brazilian studies (i.e. Rodrigues, Ramos, Carneiro, Bastide, Verger) with an active stress on African origins, the search for “Africanisms” and African ritual purity, mostly attributed to the Nago orisha Bahian Candomblé. The latter emerged in the late 1970s, as a reaction to the celebration of origins and identity. Influenced by British Marxist approaches focusing on conflict, power and the invention of tradition, they started to highlight power relations within Afro-Brazilian religions and on how Afro-Brazilian identity was constructed in relation to wider sociopolitical dynamics.43 These anti-essentialist critics set the path for new developments in the 1990s when Afro-Brazilian religions became a strategic cultural asset in the politics of identity of multicultural Brazil.

Continuing with the discussion on legitimacy of Afro-Brazilian religions in the public sphere and the media there was a semantic critique of concepts such as “religion,” “witchcraft,” “Africanity” or “syncretism,” highlighting how they were correlated and mutually shaped. The debate initiated by Dantas on the agency of intellectuals in the construction of such identities and the discursive transformation of “Afro-Brazilian religion” into “Afro-Brazilian culture” acquired new vigor.44 On the other hand there was a growing attention to the wild landscapes of syncretism, sorcery, and popular religion, exploring institutions and practices operating outside the dominant canons. Simultaneously there was a renewed interest on classic anthropological themes of Afro-Brazilian studies such as spirit possession, the notion of the person, the agency of objects, and “fetishism,” even the cosmologies and ontologies of Afro-Brazilian religions.45

The analysis of the state relationship with Afro-Brazilian culture and its insertion within the national heritage, coexisted with the description of transnational networks and the emergence of a “Black Atlantic” paradigm. The combination of cultural studies, diaspora studies and Atlantic history, together with a growing centrality of African history, stirred a reassessment of the linear movements from Africa to Brazil, emphasizing notions of Atlantic circularity and concomitancy. The 19th-century return movement to Africa of former slaves and their continuous, though intermittent, communication with Brazil, brought to the foreground their agency and influence on post-slavery Afro-Brazilian religious practices.46 This Atlanticism has lately led to an interest on the ongoing processes of globalization of Afro-American religions, particularly the orisha Yoruba-centered ones.47

Primary Sources

There is a wide range of documents pertaining to the Atlantic slave trade located in different European and American collections that provide information on the demographic and social composition of the enslaved African populations arrived in Brazil. The Slave Voyages database is a useful online resource to explore this material.48 Other important primary sources to map the ethnic diversity of Africans in Brazil include wills, post-mortem inventories and ecclesiastical records (baptism, marriage, and obituary) in which the “nation” of enslaved and freed Africans is often declared. The main public archives in Brazilian states contain such local collections (i.e. Arquivo Nacional, in Rio de Janeiro, Arquivo Público do Estado da Bahia, in Salvador, Arquivo Público Estadual in Recife, Arquivo Público Mineiro, in Belo Horizonte). Many of the Catholic church books are available online on the Family Search website but can also be examined in the various Brazilian Arquivos da Cúria.49 For research on African cultural and religious practices in colonial Brazil the Inquisition records are a classic source. Lay Black Catholic Brotherhood statutes can detail ethnic and cultural dynamics among African communities too. Many of these documents can be found at the Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (the Tribunal do Santo Ofício) in Lisbon.50 Sparse civil and criminal judiciary processes can also reveal conflicts engendered by African religious and cultural practices. For the 19th century additional sources include police correspondence and newspaper articles. There are several online resources for 19th-century newspapers but the Hemeroteca Digital Brasileira from the Biblioteca Nacional is a starting point.51 Finally, when researching Afro-Brazilian religions comparing written data with contemporary oral traditions is a complementary methodological option.

Further Reading

Alencastro, Luiz Felipe de. O trato dos viventes. Formação do Brasil no Atlântico Sul—séculos XVI e XVII. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2000.Find this resource:

    Bastide, Roger. Les religions africaines au Brésil. Contribution à une sociologie des interpénétrations de civilisation. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1960.Find this resource:

      Dantas, Beatriz Gois. Nago Granma & White Papa: Candomblé and the Creation of Afro-Brazilian Identity. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009 [1988].Find this resource:

        Ferreira, Roquinaldo Amaral. Cross-cultural Exchange in the Atlantic World: Angola and Brazil during the Era of the Slave Trade. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2012.Find this resource:

          Karash, Mary. Slave life in Rio de Janeiro, 1808–1850. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987.Find this resource:

            Matory, Lorand. Black Atlantic Religion: Tradition, Transnationalism and Matriarchy in Brazilian Candomblé. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005.Find this resource:

              Mott, Luiz. “Acotundá–Raízes setecentistas do sincretismo religioso afro-brasileiro.” Revista do Museu Paulista 31 (1986), 124–147.Find this resource:

                Oliveira, Inês Cortês de. “Quem eram os ‘negros da Guiné’? A origem dos africanos na Bahia.” Afro-Ásia 19–20 (1997), 37–74Find this resource:

                  Parés, Luis Nicolau. The Formation of Candomblé: Vodun History and Ritual in Brazil. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2013 [2006].Find this resource:

                    Reis, João José. Domingos Sodre, um sacerdote africano: escravidão, liberdade e candomblé na Bahia do século XIX. São Paulo, Brazil: Companhia das Letras, 2008.Find this resource:

                      Reginaldo, Lucilene. Os Rosários dos Angolas: irmandades de africanos e crioulos na Bahia setecentista. São Paulo, Brazil: Alameda; Fapesb, 2011.Find this resource:

                        Schwarcz, Lilia Moritz, and Gomes, Flávio dos Santos (ed). Dicionário da Escravidão e Liberdade. São Paulo, Brazil: Companhia das Letras, 2018.Find this resource:

                          Soares, Mariza de Carvalho. Devotos da cor. Identidade étnica, religiosidade e escravidão no Rio de Janeiro, século XVIII. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Civilização Brasileira, 2000.Find this resource:

                            Souza, Laura de Mello e. O diabo e a Terra de Santa Cruz. São Paulo, Brazil: Companhia das Letras, 1999 [1986].Find this resource:

                              Sweet, James. Domingos Alvares, African Healing, and the Intellectual History of the Atlantic World. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011.Find this resource:

                                Verger, Pierre. Fluxo e refluxo do tráfico de escravos entre o golfo do Benin e a Bahia de todos os Santos. São Paulo, Brazil: Corrupio, 1987 [1968].Find this resource:

                                  Notes:

                                  (1.) Slave Voyages website.

                                  (2.) In Brazil “Creole” designates the American-born blacks, that is Afro-descendants, and not whites or mestizos as in other parts of the Americas.

                                  (3.) Slave Voyages website. The Portuguese/Brazilian traders were responsible for the shipment of 5.8 million of the total 12.5 million enslaved embarked in Africa. They were also responsible for 4.8 million of the 4.9 million disembarked in Brazil. Though it is generally considered that the Atlantic slave trade with Brazil ceased in 1850, the last official disembarkation is dated in 1856.

                                  (5.) Walter Hawthorne, From Africa to Brazil: Culture, Identity, and an Atlantic Slave Trade, 1600–1830 (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2010).

                                  (7.) Dale Tomich and Michael Zeuske, “Introduction,” Review (Fernand Braudel Center, Binghamton University, NY) 31, no. 2 (2008): 91–100. Special issue, “The Second Slavery: Mass Slavery, World-Economy, and Comparative Microhistories, Part I.”

                                  (8.) Alencastro, “África, números do tráfico Atlântico.”

                                  (9.) Slave Voyages website.

                                  (10.) Nina Rodrigues, Os africanos no Brasil (São Paulo: Companhia Editora Nacional, 1977 [1906]), 35. Considering the Brazilian-born blacks (Creole) as a “nation” is indicative of the idiosyncratic use of this category.

                                  (12.) Moacir Rodrigo de Castro Maia, “De reino traficante a povo traficado: a diáspora dos Courás do Golfo de Benim para as minas de ouro da América Portuguesa (1715–1760)” (PhD dissertation, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, 2013); Luis Nicolau Parés, The Formation of Candomblé: Vodun History and Ritual in Brazil (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2013 [2006]).

                                  (13.) António da Costa Peixoto, Obra nova da língua geral de mina. Manuscrito da Biblioteca Pública de Évora, publicado e apresentado por Luis Silveira em 1943 (Lisboa: Agência Geral das Colônias, 1943–1944 [1741]); Silvia Hunold Lara, “Linguagem, domínio senhorial e identidade étnica nas Minas Gerais de meados do século XVIII,” in Cristiana Bastos, Bela Feldman-Bianco e Miguel Vale de Almeida (eds.), Trânsitos coloniais: diálogos críticos luso-brasileiros (Lisboa: Editora Imprensa de Ciências Sociais, 2002), 205–25.

                                  (14.) Robert W. Slenes, “Africanos Centrales,” in Lilia Moritz Schwarcz and Flávio dos Santos Gomes (eds.) Dicionário da Escravidão e Liberdade (São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2018), 64–70.

                                  (15.) Roger Bastide, Les religions africaines au Brésil. Contribution à une sociologie des interpénétrations de civilisation (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1960); Sidney W. Mintz and Richard Price, The Birth of Afro-American Culture. An Anthropological Perspective (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1992).

                                  (16.) Soares, Devotos da cor.

                                  (17.) Bastide, Les Religions africaines.

                                  (18.) Mintz and Price, The Birth of Afro-American Culture.

                                  (19.) Louis Brenner, “Religious discourses in and about Africa,” in Karin Barber and Paulo Fernando Moraes Farias (eds.), Discourse and its Disguises. The Interpretation of African Oral Texts (Birmingham, U.K.: Birmingham University, African Studies series 1, Center for West African Studies, 1989), 87–105; Willy de Craemer, Jan Vansina, and Renée C. Fox, “Religious movements in Central Africa: a theoretical study,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 18, no. 4 (1976), 458–475.

                                  (20.) Brenner, “Religious discourses in and about Africa.”

                                  (21.) Luiz Mott, “Acotundá—Raízes setecentistas do sincretismo religioso afro-brasileiro,” Revista do Museu Paulista 31 (1986): 124–147.

                                  (22.) John M. Janzen, Ngoma. Discourses of healing in Central and Southern Africa (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1992).

                                  (23.) Lisa Earl Castillo and Luis Nicolau Parés, “Marcelina da Silva: A Nineteenth Century Candomble Priestess in Bahia (Brazil),” Slavery & Abolition 31, no. 1 (2010): 1–28.

                                  (24.) Sérgio Ferretti, Querebentan de Zomadonu. Etnografia da Casa das Minas do Maranhão (São Luis: EDUFMA, 1996).

                                  (25.) Gabriela Sampaio dos Reis, Juca Rosa: um pai de santo na Corte imperial (Rio de Janeiro: Arquivo Nacional, 2009).

                                  (26.) Roberto Moura, Tia Ciata e a Pequena África no Rio de Janeiro (Rio de Janeiro: Secretaria Municipal de Cultura, 1995).

                                  (27.) Lisa Earl Castillo, “Between Memory, Myth and History: Transatlantic Voyagers of the Casa Branca Temple,” in Ana Lucia Araujo (ed.), Paths of the Atlantic Slave Trade: Interactions, Identities, and Images (Amherst, NY: Cambria Press, 2011), 203–237.

                                  (29.) Luis Nicolau Parés, “Apropriações e transformações crioulas da pajelança cabocla no Maranhão,” in M. Rosário Carvalho, Edwin Reesink and Julie A. Cavignac (eds.) Negros no Mundo dos Índios: Imagens, Reflexos e Alteridades (Natal: EDUFRN, 2011), 101–130.

                                  (30.) Reginaldo Prandi (ed), Encantaria brasileira. O livro dos mestres, caboclos e encantados (Rio de Janeiro: Pallas, 2001).

                                  (31.) Slenes, “Africanos Centrales.”

                                  (32.) Beatriz Gois Dantas, Nago Granma and White Papa: Candomblé and the Creation of Afro-Brazilian Identity (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009 [1988]).

                                  (33.) Joao José Reis, Rebelião escrava no Brasil. A história do levante dos males em 1835 (São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2003 [1986]).

                                  (34.) Rachel Elizabeth Harding, A Refuge in Thunder. Candomble and Alternative Spaces of Blackness (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000).

                                  (35.) For example, Rodrigues, Os africanos no Brasil; Athur Ramos, As culturas negras no Novo Mundo (São Paulo: Ed. Nacional-INL-MEC, 1979 [1937]), chapters 11–15; Bastide, Les religions africaines.

                                  (36.) For example, Verger, Fluxo e refluxo; Mary Karash, Slave life in Rio de Janeiro, 1808–1850 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987); Reis, Rebelião escravano Brasil; Oliveira, “Quem eram os ‘negros da Guiné’?”

                                  (37.) For example, Soares, Devotos da cor; Juliana Barreto Farias, Carlos Eugênio Líbano Soares and Flávio Santos Gomes, No labirinto das Nações (Rio de Janeiro: Arquivo Nacional, 2005); Parés, The Formation of Candomblé; Maia, “De reino traficante a povo traficado,” chapter 2.

                                  (38.) For example, Luiz Mott, “A vida mística e erótica do escravo José Francisco Pereira 1705–1736,” Tempo Brasileiro 92/93 (1988), 85–104; Laura de Mello e Souza, O diabo e a Terra de Santa Cruz (São Paulo: Companhia das Letras,1999 [1986]).

                                  (39.) For example, Harding, A Refuge in Thunder; João José Reis, “Candomblé in Nineteenth-Century Bahia: Priests, Followers, Clients,” in Kristin Mann and Edna Bay (eds.), Rethinking the African Diaspora: The Making of a Black Atlantic World in the Bight of Benin and Brazil (London, U.K.: Frank Cass, 2001), 116–134; Parés, The Formation of Candomblé; Renato da Silveira, O candomblé da Barroquinha: processo de constituição do primeiro terreiro baiano de keto (Salvador: Maianga, 2006).

                                  (41.) Melville J. Heskovits, The Myth of the Negro Past (New York: Harper Bros, 1941); Mintz and Price, The Birth of Afro-American Culture.

                                  (42.) The term is from: Roger Sansi, Fetishes and Monuments. Afro-Brazilian Art and Culture in 20th century Bahia (Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2007); J. Lorand Matory, “The English Professors of Brazil: On the Diasporic Roots of the Yorùbá Nation,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 41, no. 11 (1999): 78–79.

                                  (43.) For example, Dantas, Nago Granma and White Papa; Yvonne Maggie, Guerra de orixá: Um estudo de ritual e conflito (Rio de Janeiro: Zahar, 1977); Patrícia Birman, “Feitiço, carrego e olho grande, os males do Brasil são: Estudo de um centro umbandista numa favela do Rio de Janeiro” (MA thesis, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. 1980); Peter Fry, Para Inglês Ver (Rio de Janeiro: Zahar, 1982); Alejandro Frigerio, “The Search for Africa” (MA thesis, University of California, 1983); Renato Ortiz, A morte branca do feiticeiro negro: Umbanda e sociedade Brasileira (São Paulo: Editora Brasiliense, 1988); Fernando Giobellina Brumana, “Spirits from the Margin: Umbanda in São Paulo: a Study in Popular Religion and Social Experience” (PhD dissertation, Uppsala, 1989).

                                  (44.) For example, Stefan Palmié (ed.), Africas of the Americas: Beyond the Search for Origins in the Study of Afro-Atlantic Religions (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2008); Matory, Black Atlantic Religion; Stefania Capone, La quête de l’Afrique dans le candomblé. Pouvoir et tradition au Brésil (Paris: Karthala, 1999); Paul C. Johnson, Secrets, Gossip, and Gods: The Transformation of Brazilian Candomblé (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002); Mattijs Van de Port, “Candomblé in Pink, Green and Black. Re-scripting the Afro-Brazilian Religious Heritage in the Public Sphere of Salvador, Bahia,” Social Anthropology 13, no. 1 (2005): 3–26; Sansi, Fetishes and Monuments.

                                  (45.) Roger Sansi and Luis Nicolau Parés, “The Multiple Agencies of Afro-Brazilian Religions,” Religion and Society: Advances in Research 3, no. 1 (2012), 76–94.

                                  (46.) For example, Verger, Fluxo e Refluxo; Jerry Michael Turner, “Les Brésiliens: The Impact of Former Brazilian Slaves upon Dahomey,” PhD thesis, Boston University, 1975. Manuela Carneiro de Cunha, Negros Estrangeiros: os escravos libertos e sua volta à África (São Paulo: Brasiliense, 1985); Matory, Black Atlantic Religion; Castillo and Parés, “Marcelina da Silva”; Luis Nicolau Parés and Roger Sansi (eds.), Sorcery in the Black Atlantic (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2011).

                                  (47.) Paul Christopher Johnson and Stephan Palmié. “Religiões afro-latino-americanas,” in George Reid Andrews and Alejandro de la Fuente (eds.) Estudos afro-latino-americanos. Uma introdução (Buenos Aires: CLACSO, 2018), 505–556.

                                  (48.) Slave Voyages website.