Written by one of France's most brilliant and creative anthropologists, The African Religions of Brazil is regarded as a classic in Afro-American studies. First published in France in 1960, the book represents a singular effort to develop a theory of the interpenetrations of African, European, Christian, and non-Christian cultures in Brazil from colonial times to the present. Addressing a remarkable range of topics—from mysticism and syncretism to the problems of collective memory, from the history of slavery in Brazil to world-wide race relations—the work is shaped by the author's rich and original conceptual framework. The result is a compelling study of the origins and growth of a native religious environment. The English translation is supplemented with a biographical foreword by Richard Price and a thematic introduction by Brazilian sociologist Duglas T. Monteiro.
The cognitive science of religion has made a persuasive case for the view that a number of different psychological systems are involved in the construction and transmission of notions of extranatural agency such as deities and spirits. Until now this work has been based largely on findings in experimental psychology, illustrated mainly with hypothetical or anecdotal examples. In The Mind Possessed, Emma Cohen considers how the psychological systems undergirding spirit concepts are activated in real-world settings. Spirit possession practices have long had a magnetizing effect on academic researchers but there have been few, if any, satisfactory theoretical treatments of spirit possession that attempt to account for its emergence and spread globally. Drawing on ethnographic data collected during eighteen months of fieldwork in Belém, northern Brazil, Cohen combines fine-grained descriptions and analyses of mediumistic activities in an Afro-Brazilian cult house with a scientifically-grounded explanation for the emergence and spread of ideas about spirits, possession and healing. Cohen shows why spirit possession and its associated activities are inherently attention-grabbing. Making a radical departure from traditional anthropological, medicalist and sociological analyses, she argues that a cognitive approach offers more precise and testable hypotheses concerning the spread and appeal of spirit concepts and possession activities. This timely book presents new lines of enquiry for the cognitive science of religion (a rapidly growing field of interdisciplinary scholarship) and challenges the theoretical frameworks within which spirit possession practices have traditionally been understood.
The essay The Afro-Cuban Festival 'Day of the Kings""' by Fernando Ortiz, founder of Afro-Cuban studies, describes how, as in Brazil, Catholic priests and the colonial government as early as 1573 allowed and encouraged the African slaves to celebrate Epiphany, the Festival of the Three Kings...Free people joined in and the dances, music and costumes paraded by the various eyewitnesses demonstrate how early and how immense were the African contributions to what was to become the carnival of the African Diaspora. ""Bettelheim's second essay, The Tumba Francesa and Tajona of Santiago de Cuba,' describes two...groups which descend from the Creole-speaking Hatians called Franceses. In their long history of race pride, revolt and rebellion, is a previously unknown revelation of diasporic history. The intense interplay of sub-rosa and African-connected groups is perhaps the most important revelation made by these essays.