Paul Christopher Johnson

in Secrets, Gossip, and Gods

Published in print August 2002 | ISBN: 9780195150582
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834358 | DOI:

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Explains the rise of secretism by summarizing three related arguments: First, Candomblé had no option to remain silent about the religion, only to either be represented or to take part in the control and production of those representations. Here, secretism follows the pattern of the incitement to discourse theorized by Foucault, as part and parcel of the creation and required administration of the public sphere. Second, claims to secrets are now circulated as a system of intrareligious prestige, a competition for limited rewards. In this competitive context, claims to deep secrets (secretism) are stimulated, compared to their former relative stability in traditional ritual practice. Third, secretism attempts to resecure the locative identity of Candomblé by discursively constructing boundaries for the experience of place, the ritual ideal of acquiring “foundation.” Secretism has therefore grown in direct proportion to Candomblé's publicization.

Keywords: Candomblé; discourse; identity; place; public sphere; religious competition; ritual; secretism

Chapter.  5923 words. 

Subjects: East Asian Religions

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