"Even Oxalá goes to war!": African Deities Enter Politics in Salvador, Brazil
Elina Hartikainen (University of Helsinki)
Paper short abstract:
This paper explores how political activism aimed at state recognition mediated the working into presence of Candomblé's African deities in Salvador, Brazil in early 2000s. I ask how the deities were rendered co-present in the political realm and with what effect on secular politics and the deities.
Paper long abstract:
In the 2000s, activists from the African diasporic spirit possession religion Candomblé successfully mobilized large numbers of practitioners into a religious political movement in Salvador, Brazil. While the movement originally emerged out of a concern over combatting Evangelical Christian intolerance against the religion, by 2008 many activists viewed it as a means to carving out a space for the religion and its practitioners in Brazilian political discussions. In addition to practitioners, the movement found a receptive audience in state representatives and institutions invested in expanding Afro-Brazilian social and political inclusion. This paper explores the ways in which Candomblé's co-present African deities were brought into this religious political project by activists. More specifically, I ask 1) to what extent and in what ways did Candomblé activists render the deities co-present in their political efforts, 2) how did these efforts push at or transcend secular notions of politics, and 3) how were the deities transformed by these encounters with the political realm? Through such an analysis, the paper explores the mediatory effects of political activism that aims at state recognition on the working into presence of Candomblé's African deities.
Divine mobilities: how gods and spirits move through the world