Accepted Paper:

Ritualistic gestures within a native pedagogy: the symbolic learning of Candomblé's initiate  
Francesca Bassi (Universidade Federal do Reconcavo da Bahia)

Paper short abstract:

In the ritual context of Candomblé, the transmission of religion is based on gradual awareness of the implicit local theory by stimulating a special inferential model of communication.The neophyte is encouraged to interpret the clues of superhuman agencies and to configure specific ontologies.

Paper long abstract:

In the ritual context of Candomblé initiation (Salvador de Bahia, Brazil), the transmission of religion is based upon gradual awareness of the implicit local theory (Astuti 2008) by stimulating a special inferential model of communication. Neophytes are instructed to engage in or to avoid actions (prescriptions or prohibitions), however this active teaching is limited. Neophytes, led by seniors initiates, are mostly stimulated to actively interpret the clues of superhuman agencies (Orishas and Odus) and to configure specific ontologies. Therefore, they are encouraged to focus their attention on the efficacy of different elements (for example, food or substances that could cause body reactions) and on relevant events, conceivable as revelations of invisible intentionalities. Inferential reasoning marks their daily lives, which thereby gain a remarkable degree of symbolic resonance. In this paper, I consider ritualistic gestures within a native pedagogy and I aim to determine how embodied practices and ritual behaviour of Candomblé are successful in the transmission of religious symbolic sensitivity (Smith 1979). While ritual often mobilises a cognitive capture and efficacy promotes a behavioural surveillance against dangers (Boyer & Liénard 2006) as a pedagogical device, this kind of symbolic learning would become incommunicable outside and pragmatic conditions of ritual initiation (Severi 2004).

Panel P119
Pedagogy: ethnographic and cognitive engagements