By C. Sterling

This article explores how Afro-Brazilians outline their Africanness via Candomblé and Quilombo versions, and build paradigms of blackness with affects from US-based views, throughout the vectors of public rituals, carnival, drama, poetry, and hip hop.

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Extra resources for African Roots, Brazilian Rites: Cultural and National Identity in Brazil

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Accordance is even found in the symbolic essences of W H E R E I S A F R I C A I N T H E N AT I O N? 45 these entities, which emphasizes their regenerative qualities through depictions as a rainbow (a sign of renewal), and a snake (a symbol of continuity). Selective remembrance may also characterize the relations deemed appropriate between the supplicants and the orisas. For instance, Orisa Oko, who is the energy that governs farming and husbandry, is not acknowledged in Brazil. If we can access the mind-set of the enslaved, to address and venerate this orisa signified acceptance of the position of enslavement.

Given the need for resistance ideologies and positionalities in a slave-based society, it seems logical to underscore the combative nature of the orisas. The orisas are multivalent entities, and even though each one has a dominant trait, it is quite feasible for that orisa to invoke the opposite of that defining characteristic. Thus, Oshun can be both love and war, as both energies often exist in complementary engagement. This polarity and reconciliation apparent in the multiconsciousness of the orisa may well have served as a model for the comportment of the enslaved, and it is certainly used by the present-day Afro-Brazilians in their role as objectified Other.

Seeing the practice of the religion as contra the project of modernity and modernization, post-abolition politics sought to “establish a nation that excluded ex-slaves and indigenous people” (J. Santos, “Mixed” 118). White Brazilians did indeed react with fear and horror at the thought of the blackness of Brazil, which, between the years 1889 and 1914, resulted in the official policy of embranquecimento. Racialist thinkers such as Comte Gobineau, who saw the mixed-race population of Brazil as “primitively depraved,” suggested the possibility of whitening.

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