Chapter

Catholicism and Afro-Brazilian Identity

Stephen Selka

in Religion and the Politics of Ethnic Identity in Bahia, Brazil

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print December 2007 | ISBN: 9780813031712
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813039572 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5744/florida/9780813031712.003.0003
Catholicism and Afro-Brazilian Identity

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Salvador da Bahia is a major port and it has been the center of colonialism for the past two hundred years. It was the place for slave importation and the center of the sugar industry, and these two aspects tied the blacks to slavery. In the years that have passed, Salvador was subjected to change as industry, economy, and trade moved to the south of Brazil. Although Salvador has undergone changes, its interior remains an agricultural region where the patron–client relationship still remains. Presently, Salvador has a central black community and is a center of African-derived religions. It is known as the Rome of the Afro-Brazilian religion and the center of Afro-Brazilian cultural traditions and racial consciousness. This chapter explores how ethnic consciousness is constructed and how anti-racist activism is enacted within the context of different religious, political and cultural backgrounds, and groups in Salvador. This chapter focuses on the different discourses on African-Brazilian identity among several Catholic, Evangelical Catholic, and Candomblé groups. The chapter also looks at the struggles of the African-derived religion in relation to the Christian religion as well as the role of this religion in constructing the Afro-Brazilian identity and in shaping a stand against racism. The chapter also looks beyond the religious arena of where Afro-Brazilian cultural affirmations and political activism are fully relevant and distinguishable.

Keywords: Salvador da Bahia; slave; Salvador; black community; African-derived religions; racial consciousness; cultural traditions; ethnic consciousness

Chapter.  9992 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Society and Culture

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