Black Atlantic Religion: Tradition, Transnationalism, and Matriarchy in the Afro-Brazilian Candomblé

Princeton University Press
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Black Atlantic Religion illuminates the mutual transformation of African and African-American cultures, highlighting the example of the Afro-Brazilian Candomblé religion. This book contests both the recent conviction that transnationalism is new and the long-held supposition that African culture endures in the Americas only among the poorest and most isolated of black populations. In fact, African culture in the Americas has most flourished among the urban and the prosperous, who, through travel, commerce, and literacy, were well exposed to other cultures. Their embrace of African religion is less a "survival," or inert residue of the African past, than a strategic choice in their circum-Atlantic, multicultural world.

With counterparts in Nigeria, the Benin Republic, Haiti, Cuba, Trinidad, and the United States, Candomblé is a religion of spirit possession, dance, healing, and blood sacrifice. Most surprising to those who imagine Candomblé and other such religions as the products of anonymous folk memory is the fact that some of this religion's towering leaders and priests have been either well-traveled writers or merchants, whose stake in African-inspired religion was as much commercial as spiritual. Morever, they influenced Africa as much as Brazil. Thus, for centuries, Candomblé and its counterparts have stood at the crux of enormous transnational forces.

Vividly combining history and ethnography, Matory spotlights a so-called "folk" religion defined not by its closure or internal homogeneity but by the diversity of its connections to classes and places often far away. Black Atlantic Religion sets a new standard for the study of transnationalism in its subaltern and often ancient manifestations.

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About the author

J. Lorand Matory, Professor of Anthropology and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University, is the author of the forthcoming Sex and the Empire That Is No More: Gender and the Politics of Metaphor in Òyó Yorùbá Religion, second edition.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Feb 9, 2009
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Pages
392
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ISBN
9781400833979
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Language
English
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Genres
Religion / Ethnic & Tribal
Social Science / Anthropology / Cultural & Social
Social Science / Ethnic Studies / General
Social Science / Sociology of Religion
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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J. Lorand Matory
In Stigma and Culture, J. Lorand Matory provocatively shows how ethnic identification in the United States—and around the globe—is a competitive and hierarchical process in which populations, especially of historically stigmatized races, seek status and income by dishonoring other stigmatized populations. And there is no better place to see this than among the African American elite in academia, where he explores the emergent ethnic identities of African and Caribbean immigrants and transmigrants, Gullah/Geechees, Louisiana Creoles, and even Native Americans of partly African ancestry.  
           
Matory describes the competitive process that hierarchically structures their self-definition as ethnic groups and the similar process by which middle-class African Americans seek distinction from their impoverished compatriots. Drawing on research at universities such as Howard, Harvard, and Duke and among their alumni networks, he details how university life—while facilitating individual upward mobility, touting human equality, and regaling cultural diversity—also perpetuates the cultural standards that historically justified the dominance of some groups over others. Combining his ethnographic findings with classic theoretical insights from Frantz Fanon, Fredrik Barth, Erving Goffman, Pierre Bourdieu and others—alongside stories from his own life in academia—Matory sketches the university as an institution that, particularly through the anthropological vocabulary of culture, encourages the stigmatized to stratify their own. 
Lawrence Wright
National Book Award Finalist


A clear-sighted revelation, a deep penetration into the world of Scientology by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Looming Tower, the now-classic study of al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attack. Based on more than two hundred personal interviews with current and former Scientologists—both famous and less well known—and years of archival research, Lawrence Wright uses his extraordinary investigative ability to uncover for us the inner workings of the Church of Scientology.

At the book’s center, two men whom Wright brings vividly to life, showing how they have made Scientology what it is today: The darkly brilliant science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, whose restless, expansive mind invented a new religion. And his successor, David Miscavige—tough and driven, with the unenviable task of preserving the church after the death of Hubbard.

We learn about Scientology’s complicated cosmology and special language. We see the ways in which the church pursues celebrities, such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta, and how such stars are used to advance the church’s goals. And we meet the young idealists who have joined the Sea Org, the church’s clergy, signing up with a billion-year contract.

In Going Clear, Wright examines what fundamentally makes a religion a religion, and whether Scientology is, in fact, deserving of this constitutional protection. Employing all his exceptional journalistic skills of observation, understanding, and shaping a story into a compelling narrative, Lawrence Wright has given us an evenhanded yet keenly incisive book that reveals the very essence of what makes Scientology the institution it is.


From the Hardcover edition.
J. Lorand Matory
In Stigma and Culture, J. Lorand Matory provocatively shows how ethnic identification in the United States—and around the globe—is a competitive and hierarchical process in which populations, especially of historically stigmatized races, seek status and income by dishonoring other stigmatized populations. And there is no better place to see this than among the African American elite in academia, where he explores the emergent ethnic identities of African and Caribbean immigrants and transmigrants, Gullah/Geechees, Louisiana Creoles, and even Native Americans of partly African ancestry.  
           
Matory describes the competitive process that hierarchically structures their self-definition as ethnic groups and the similar process by which middle-class African Americans seek distinction from their impoverished compatriots. Drawing on research at universities such as Howard, Harvard, and Duke and among their alumni networks, he details how university life—while facilitating individual upward mobility, touting human equality, and regaling cultural diversity—also perpetuates the cultural standards that historically justified the dominance of some groups over others. Combining his ethnographic findings with classic theoretical insights from Frantz Fanon, Fredrik Barth, Erving Goffman, Pierre Bourdieu and others—alongside stories from his own life in academia—Matory sketches the university as an institution that, particularly through the anthropological vocabulary of culture, encourages the stigmatized to stratify their own. 
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