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Religion and the Politics of Ethnic Identity in Bahia, Brazil$
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Stephen Selka

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780813031712

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813031712.001.0001

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Religion and Race in Brazil

Religion and Race in Brazil

(p.9) 2 Religion and Race in Brazil
Religion and the Politics of Ethnic Identity in Bahia, Brazil

Stephen Selka

University Press of Florida

Brazil is often cited as the world's most Catholic country however in reality Brazil is a plethora of religions. While Catholicism is still the primary religion of the majority of Brazilians, there are significant numbers of Brazilians who frequent Protestant Churches, African-derived religions and Buddhist temples. This chapter discusses how the people of African descent involved in Catholic, Evangelical Christian, and Candomblé organizations have engaged in issues concerning Afro-Brazilian identity and struggled against racism in Brazil. Brazil is hailed as a racial democratic country devoid of de jure segregation and racial hostility due to its widespread racial mixture and cultural syncretism however, since the 1970s, there was an increasing recognition of the existence of racial discrimination in the life chances of white and black Brazilians. Racial discrimination was especially prevalent in the state of Bahia where Afro-Brazilian descent involved in the black movement used religious symbols to strengthen their Afro-Brazilian identity and to mobilize people to stand up against racism. This chapter focuses on the poor state of Bahia where the most concentrated Afro-Brazilian community can be found, the Recôncavo.

Keywords:   Brazil, Catholicism, religions, Evangelical Christian, African-derived religions, Candomblé, Afro-Brazilian identity, racism, discrimination, Bahia

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