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Searching for Africa in Brazil: Power and Tradition in Candomblé Paperback – May 17, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“[T]he volume still stands admirably on its own. . . . [A] fascinating survey of the history of the field. . . . Capone is especially illuminating in her reading of anthropology and its reification of tradition. . . . Capone’s frank reflections on the field are thought provoking and important. . . .” - Anadelia Romo, The Americas


“Stefania Capone’s Searching for Africa in Brazil provides an important contribution to the study of Afro-American religions that highlights the intellectual, political, and ritualistic complexities of Candomblé. . . . Capone’s study is indeed a pivotal contribution to the discourse on Afro-Brazilian, Black Atlantic, and African Diasporic studies. Her argument is grounded in solid historical assessments of anthropological treatments of Afro-Brazilian religions, provides extensive footnotes that detail field work experiences of the author and pioneers in the field, and includes a comprehensive bibliography of works on Afro-American religions and Yoruba spirituality.” - Abu J. Toure, Journal of Religion in Africa


“Anthropologists and anthropology graduate students will find this volume rich and rewarding. Historians such as myself will take much from the several chapters that trace the evolution of ideas about competing branches of Candomblé beliefs. Capone presents a forceful challenge to long-accepted anthropological methods of studying Candomblé (and, by extension, other religions), pointing out the problematic propensity of students to follow in their advisors’ footsteps by visiting the same sites.” - Walter Hawthorne, History: Reviews of New Books


“The originality of this work lies in the disclosure of the incestuous unions between temple and university that together produced a particular version of African tradition. This kind of analysis is not new, but Capone’s study is particularly effective because of its anchoring in the close microstudy of the dramatic changes of ‘tradition’ in Candomblé as those very changes are then reworked as deeply African. . . . It would seem then that this triumph of the tropes of African ‘origins’ and ‘authenticity’ over their rivals in a meta-economy of signs, even for those not of African descent, a semiotic battle richly described in this work, offers pressing new questions for the next generation of research. Stefania Capone’s careful, intelligent study has laid the groundwork to make those sorts of reflections possible.”
- Paul Christopher Johnson, Journal of the American Academy of Religion


“[A]n excellent monograph about Afro-Brazilian religious traditions, in particular Umbanda and Candomblé.” - Bettina Schmidt, Journal of Religious History


Searching for Africa in Brazil is one of the most descriptively rich and analytically insightful treatments of AfroBrazilian religion to date. Every student and ethnographer of Candomblé will undoubtedly do their research a great service if they read this book.” - Emma Cohen, Critique of Anthropology


Searching for Africa in Brazil is a major piece of scholarship. Through careful historical research and vivid ethnographic detail, Stefania Capone demonstrates that conceptual pairs such as pure/impure, religious/magical, traditional/modernized, and communal/individualistic have long played a major role in highly self-conscious and overtly politicized representations of Afro-Brazilian religion. This is so both in regards to practitioners’ discourses aimed at legitimizing their forms of practice at the expense of their rivals’ and in regards to the changing views of anthropologists who sought a definitional monopoly over what could count as ‘African,’ ‘traditional,’ and so forth.”—Stephan Palmié, author of Wizards and Scientists: Explorations in Afro-Cuban Modernity and Tradition


“The translation of this outstanding work into English is a real service to scholars. Searching for Africa in Brazil is a well researched and carefully argued examination of the ongoing disputations about the origins and transformations in Candomblé. Stefania Capone is particularly insightful regarding the role that outsiders have played in shaping disputes about authenticity, sources, and their relation to African origins.”—Anani Dzidzienyo, co-editor of Neither Enemies nor Friends: Latinos, Blacks, Afro-Latinos


Searching for Africa in Brazil is one of the most descriptively rich and analytically insightful treatments of AfroBrazilian religion to date. Every student and ethnographer of Candomblé will undoubtedly do their research a great service if they read this book.”
(Emma Cohen, Critique of Anthropology)

“[A]n excellent monograph about Afro-Brazilian religious traditions, in particular Umbanda and Candomblé.”
(Bettina Schmidt, Journal of Religious History)

“[T]he volume still stands admirably on its own. . . . [A] fascinating survey of the history of the field. . . . Capone is especially illuminating in her reading of anthropology and its reification of tradition. . . . Capone’s frank reflections on the field are thought provoking and important. . . .”
(Anadelia Romo, The Americas)

“Anthropologists and anthropology graduate students will find this volume rich and rewarding. Historians such as myself will take much from the several chapters that trace the evolution of ideas about competing branches of Candomblé beliefs. Capone presents a forceful challenge to long-accepted anthropological methods of studying Candomblé (and, by extension, other religions), pointing out the problematic propensity of students to follow in their advisors’ footsteps by visiting the same sites.”
(Walter Hawthorne, History: Reviews of New Books)

“Stefania Capone’s Searching for Africa in Brazil provides an important contribution to the study of Afro-American religions that highlights the intellectual, political, and ritualistic complexities of Candomblé. . . . Capone’s study is indeed a pivotal contribution to the discourse on Afro-Brazilian, Black Atlantic, and African Diasporic studies. Her argument is grounded in solid historical assessments of anthropological treatments of Afro-Brazilian religions, provides extensive footnotes that detail field work experiences of the author and pioneers in the field, and includes a comprehensive bibliography of works on Afro-American religions and Yoruba spirituality.”
(Abu J. Toure, Journal of Religion in Africa)

“The originality of this work lies in the disclosure of the incestuous unions between temple and university that together produced a particular version of African tradition. This kind of analysis is not new, but Capone’s study is particularly effective because of its anchoring in the close microstudy of the dramatic changes of ‘tradition’ in Candomblé as those very changes are then reworked as deeply African. . . . It would seem then that this triumph of the tropes of African ‘origins’ and ‘authenticity’ over their rivals in a meta-economy of signs, even for those not of African descent, a semiotic battle richly described in this work, offers pressing new questions for the next generation of research. Stefania Capone’s careful, intelligent study has laid the groundwork to make those sorts of reflections possible.”
(Paul Christopher Johnson, Journal of the American Academy of Religion)

About the Author

Stefania Capone is a Professor at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the University of Paris Ouest Nanterre (France). She is the author of Les Yoruba du Nouveau Monde: Religion, ethnicité et nationalisme noir aux Etats-Unis.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books (May 17, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822346362
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822346364
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,401,742 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kalfu on January 16, 2012
Format: Paperback
I love this book! Stefania Capone has done more for Candomble then she could ever imagine! Her book is thorough and unique. She writes about the development of Eshu, analysing his position in Candomble and other Afro-Brazilian traditions over decades and centuries. She takes political pressure and prosecution by the catholic church as well as a fight against superstition into account, she writes about lesser known and lesser researched branches of Candomble and she shows that "just because it has been written about, doesn't mean its better".

But what makes this book so important is the internal politics of Candomble that Stefania Capone reveals. The power struggles between members of temples and the associated defamation, gossip and the use of witchcraft to harm and destroy competitive priests are part of the undercurrent of Candomble. Sadly as it may be, these things are the glue that keeps this religion going. This book deserves 10 stars!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kalunga on December 24, 2011
Format: Paperback
A very scholarly and well researched book. This is authentic and well written in English. Persons interested in the topic of Exu and how He relates to Candomble and Brazilian traditions, as well as spiritual authority in those traditions from an unbiased viewpoint will enjoy this book.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I got this book to read before a trip to Salvador, Brazil. I have always been interested in the African religions of Brazil, and I was hoping to understand them better before my trip. This book was a difficult read because it is written more as a doctoral thesis than a book. Unfortunately, I only read about 20% before putting it down. I wish there were better books on Afro-Brazilian religions in English.
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