Accepted Paper:

A Candomblé politics of visibility: marching for religious tolerance and state recognition  


Elina Hartikainen (University of Helsinki)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper I examine public protest marches organized by practitioners of the African diasporic religion Candomblé in Salvador, Brazil in 2008-2010. I explore how these marches were informed by a religious politics of visibility that sought to bring state recognition for Candomblé practitioners.

Paper long abstract:

Over the past ten years, a growing number of practitioners of the African diasporic religion Candomblé have taken to the streets of Salvador, Brazil to protest Neo-Pentecostal discrimination and attacks against the religion. These protest marches are explicitly framed as efforts to draw the general public's attention to the gravity and prevalence of Neo-Pentecostal religious intolerance in the city. However, they are also understood by practitioners to provide a means for gaining broader state recognition and support for practitioners of African diasporic religions. At their core these efforts are motivated by a particular understanding of the political effects of public visibility that envisions visibility as both a means and a prerequisite for state recognition and that conversely associates invisibility with political neglect and discrimination, but also civic passivity. In this paper I turn a critical eye on how this understanding of the relationship between visibility and state recognition informed Candomblé marches organized in Salvador, Brazil in 2008-2010. Specifically, I examine how organizers of Candomblé marches worked to respond to and insert Candomblé practitioners in the rubrics of recognition employed by the Brazilian state by bringing thousands of religious practitioners to Salvador's main public streets and thoroughfares in protest against religious intolerance, and how their efforts, in turn, affected and, ultimately, reconfigured the religious self-understandings of practitioners.

Panel P026
Governing urban commons