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Black Atlantic Religion: Tradition, Transnationalism, and Matriarchy in the Afro-Brazilian Candomblé Paperback – July 25, 2005

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Black Atlantic Religion: Tradition, Transnationalism, and Matriarchy in the Afro-Brazilian Candomblé + The Practice of Diaspora: Literature, Translation, and the Rise of Black Internationalism + The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double-Consciousness
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Editorial Reviews


Winner of the 2006 Melville J. Herskovits Award, African Studies Association

"Readers with an interest in Afro-diasporan studies and the historical development of 'creole' or 'hybrid' cultures, as well as those attentive to contemporary debates about modernity, nationalism, and globalization, will find here a provocative reflection on Black Atlantic culture."--Kelly E. Hayes, History of Religions

From the Back Cover

"A major achievement. The Black Atlantic case expands and transforms our understanding of both nationalism and transnationalism and offers a wealth of fascinating and little-known data. I am in awe of the extent of the research and the complexity of the analysis."--Sherry B. Ortner, University of California, Los Angeles

"This book presents a strongly argued thesis about the origins of Candomble that is radically different from the usual interpretations presented so far about its origin and status. No serious scholar interested in the process of the transmission of African culture to the Americas will be able to ignore this work."--John K. Thornton, Boston University

"A wide-ranging, strongly-argued, rewarding piece of work. The author's deep engagement with his human and intellectual subjects nicely draws the reader into the unfolding story. The book will be a significant contribution to the study of transnationalism. Indeed, it effectively closes the door on some tired but central debates in Afro-American studies and points the way methodologically toward some of the directions research ought to take in the coming years."--Richard Price, author of First-Time, Alabi's World, and The Convict and The Colonel


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (July 25, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691059446
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691059440
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,245,116 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Christopher D. Hampson on November 28, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Matory's Black Atlantic Religion is a lucidly written work on religion (specifically Candomblé in all its forms) in the transnational community known as the "Black Atlantic." The overarching thesis challenges the analogy that the "homeland is to the diaspora as the past is to the present" (38) and argues that diasporas and their homelands share in a transnational conversation that mutually shapes identity. Matory rejects the nation-state as a necessary precedent to transnationalism, arguing instead that transnationalism often precedes and informs the development of nation-states. Taking the Black Atlantic as his case study, he writes, "...central features of local linguistic and ritual practice, as well as the meanings and motives that believers invest in them, resulted from a long-distance dialogue with colonial Africa and with other American locals..." (32).

Matory's work shows an incredible perspective on history, as he demonstrates how Candomblé developed out of streams that crossed and double crossed the Atlantic ocean. For example, he studies the ideal of "purity" and shows that this trait, common among blacks in Latin America but not in the African homeland, cannot have been carried over from Africa. Rather, he seeks out the origins of cultural and religious purity and argues that the diaspora has agency in creating and recreating its identity--and that it can also affect the identity of the homeland.

This book makes me wonder: How do boundaries influence ethnographies? Can an ethnographer be aware of his boundaries and should they be expressed in the text of his work? This is an excellent book for scholars of religion and would work well for a general audience, although it is a long read and presumes some general background knowledge about the social sciences. Matory intends his book to provide a new theoretical approach to ethnography as well as an illustration of what sort of ethnography this new approach would produce (34).
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