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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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Alternative Identities, Emergent Politics

Alternative Identities, Emergent Politics

(p.97) 5 Alternative Identities, Emergent Politics
Religion and the Politics of Ethnic Identity in Bahia, Brazil

Stephen Selka

University Press of Florida

Much of the discourse on Afro-Brazilian identity is pegged on Candomblé although the religion is not evenly practiced in Afro-Brazilian communities. Debates on syncretism, double belonging, and anti-syncretism all pinpoint the existing relationship between Candomblé and Catholicism. Furthermore, emphasis on Candomblé shows a rather religious pluralism within African communities. This chapter discusses the political underpinnings that can be found in the relationship between Candomblé and Catholicism. More than just a religious rivalry, the constrained relationship between these two relationships exhibits a politics of race relations and racism. This chapter focuses on the distinctive ways in which evangelicals of African-descent engage religious discourses and practices as they construct their identities and struggle against racism. Through the black progressive evangelicals' emphasis on electoral politics and cultural approaches to mobilization, they have given much contribution to the debate and discourse about existing racism in Brazil. The chapter also discusses the increasingly blurred lines between Christians and the condomblecistas wherein although evangelical Christian communities generally are conservative and eschew the African-derived religion, a significant number of these evangelicals are reaching religious lines as they mobilize and forward a movement against racism.

Keywords:   Afro-Brazilian identity, Candomblé, Catholicism, politics, politics of race, racism, evangelicals, African-descent, Christian communities

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