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Accepted Paper:

Care and devotion among the Afro-descendant communities of the Recôncavo Baiano (Brazil)  
Francesca Bassi (Universidade Federal do Reconcavo da Bahia)

Paper Short Abstract:

The afro-descendant communities in the Recôncavo Baiano are marked by Afro-Catholic devotion and healing practices that refer to an hybrid ontology. Plants, artifacts, ritual gestures are part of a complex vital process that presents entanglements between human and more-than-human beings.

Paper Abstract:

This paper investigates the practices of popular therapists from the afro-descendant communities in the Recôncavo Baiano (Brazil), strongly marked by Afro-Catholic devotion. These healing practices refer to an hybrid ontology, in fact the healers use plants, animals and artifacts, perform ritual gestures, invoke spiritual beings as part of a the complex vital process that presents entanglements between human and more-than-human beings. In this sense, it must also be understood that postures, procedures and statements involved in devotional and religious care (purifications and blessings, offerings, possessions) extend to the environment (bush, sea, movements of the sun and moon) in a relationship of continuity.

Therapeutic fabrications may certainly be considered in dialogue with Ingold’s systemic (eco) theory (2013), which defends the porosity between human and non-human, organism and environment, living being and artifact. However, we must not keep out the importance of agentivity, in addition to the concept of animicity: being alive and open to the world in the presence of a profusion of vitalities does not exclude the “making live” by invisible agents. Local knowledges about healings practices configure the actions of these agents in vital processes and promote a “regime of coactivity” between humans and non-humans (Pitrou, 2016), notably through ritualistic skills that comprehend body techniques and actions about different elements and materials.

Following these connections, this work considers the relevance of the pragmatic perspective to analyze the junction between therapeutic techniques and artifacts (fabrications) and vital processes (growths), in order to map some configurations of the local hybrid ontology.

Panel OP115
Health and more-than-human entanglements
  Session 1 Thursday 18 July, 2024, -