0048721X.2013.798163] Selka, Stephen -- Cityscapes and contact zones- Christianity, CandomblГ©, and African heritage tourism in Brazil

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  This article was downloaded by: [University of West Florida]On: 03 January 2015, At: 13:54Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK Religion Publication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rrel20 Cityscapes and contact zones:Christianity, Candomblé, and Africanheritage tourism in Brazil Stephen Selka aa  Department of American Studies , University of Indiana ,Bloomington, 205 Sycamore Hall, Bloomington , IN , 47405 , USAPublished online: 08 Jul 2013. To cite this article:  Stephen Selka (2013) Cityscapes and contact zones: Christianity, Candomblé,and African heritage tourism in Brazil, Religion, 43:3, 403-420, DOI: 10.1080/0048721X.2013.798163 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0048721X.2013.798163 PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLETaylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (the “Content”) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor & Francis,our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as tothe accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinionsand views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors,and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor & Francis. The accuracy of the Contentshould not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sourcesof information. 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Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions  Cityscapes and contact zones: Christianity, Candomblé,and African heritage tourism in Brazil Stephen Selka* Department of American Studies, University of Indiana, Bloomington, 205 Sycamore Hall,Bloomington, IN 47405, USA A BSTRACT  In this article the author explores the ways in which Catholic, evan-gelical, and Candomblé actors produce competing framings that shape encoun-ters taking place in the city of Cachoeira in the Brazilian state of Bahia. Theframing of Cachoeira as a site of heritage tourism  –  one where local religiouspractices are read as part of the African heritage and attractions for AfricanAmerican  ‘ roots tourists ’ –  obscures as much as it reveals. This is not tosuggest that this framing is entirely inaccurate or to deny that many visitorsthemselves describe their trips to Bahia this way. But I contend that the  ‘ heritageframe ’ masks key issues that complicate diasporic encounters in Cachoeira, par-ticularly different understandings of heritage and religion and their relationshipto black identity that African Americans and Afro-Brazilians bring to theseencounters.K EY  W ORDS  Catholicism; evangelicalism; Candomblé; Brazil; tourism WhileIwasconductingethnographic 󿬁 eldworkinBrazilin2001,Ivisitedthehomeof an evangelical man named Anderson, an usher at that Batista Betel (BethelBaptist) church in the town of Cachoeira, Bahia. As we sat in his living room, wediscussed the kinds of experiences that prompt people to convert to evangelicalChristianity, including problems with drugs and involvement with sorcery( macumba ).Andersonadmittedtomethatheusedtodabbleinbothbeforehedeliv-ered his life to Jesus. In fact, he told me that Cachoeira is known far and wide as ahaven for sorcerers and that the  crentes  ( ‘  believers, ’ a term for evangelicals) in townare embroiled in a constant struggle against dark forces.Since the rhythm of life in Cachoeira is punctuated by festivals, our conversationinevitably turned to the upcoming festival of Our Lady of Good Death (or simplyBoa Morte), an Afro-Catholic celebration presided by women of African descentinitiated into Candomblé. What is remarkable about Boa Morte is that it bringshundreds of African American tourists from the United States to the relativelysmall and remote town of Cachoeira every year. When I mentioned this to theusher he  󿬂 ashed me a knowing smile: Religion  , 2013Vol. 43, No. 3, 403 – 420, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0048721X.2013.798163 *Email: sselka@indiana.edu © 2013 Taylor & Francis    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   U  n   i  v  e  r  s   i   t  y  o   f   W  e  s   t   F   l  o  r   i   d  a   ]  a   t   1   3  :   5   4   0   3   J  a  n  u  a  r  y   2   0   1   5  Anderson: Do you know why the Americans keep coming back for this festival?Stephen: People say it ’ s a kind of pilgrimage for  afrodescendentes .Anderson: Sure, yes. Well, you know that this festival is all about Candomblé andthat in Candomblé rituals they serve food. The food that the women serve duringthis festival is made with children ’ s  󿬁 ngers. This puts a spell on the visitors andforces them to come back every year to serve the demons. Several weeks later I saw Anderson on my way to a procession during the festi-val of Boa Morte. He was wearing a tie, carrying a Bible, and heading the oppositeway from Boa Morte ’ s chapel. When I told him where I was going he told me toenjoy myself, and when I asked if he had any warnings to issue about the food,he just blushed and turned away.This exchange illustrates the tension between two very different images of Cachoeira: that of a heritage site and that of a haven for demons. In the followingpages I explore ways in which these con 󿬂 icting framings shape encounters thattake place in the city. The framing of Cachoeira as a heritage site, for example  – one where local religious practices are read as part of the African heritage andattractions for African American  ‘ roots tourists ’ –  obscures as much as it reveals.This is not to suggest that this framing is entirely inaccurate or to deny thatmany visitors themselves describe their trips to Bahia this way. But I contendthat the  ‘ heritage frame ’  masks key issues that complicate diasporic encountersin Cachoeira, particularly different understandings of heritage and religion andtheir relationship to black identity that African Americans and Afro-Brazilians bring to these encounters.As the point of entry for most of the slave ships that came to Brazil, Bahia is the birthplace of Afro-Brazilian culture. Bahia ’ s capital city, Salvador, known as the ‘ Black Rome ’  in reference to the countless Candomblé temples in the city, includingamong them the oldest and most respected in the country. The town of Cachoeira,which is the main focus of this article, is a smaller town in the interior of the state. 1 Like Salvador, it is known as a colonial city and a center of Afro-Brazilian religionand culture. But many Bahians, namely evangelical Christians, know Cachoeira as ‘ the city of sorcery ’  ( a cidade de macumba)  , a derogatory reference to the pervasivepresence of Candomblé there.Despite the fact that not all Bahians embrace it, Afro-Brazilian culture has become a critically important resource that connects Bahia to a variety of global 󿬂 ows, including those associated with tourism. Indeed, Candomblé has virtually become Bahia ’ s  ‘ trademark ’  (Santos 2005). To a large extent this identi 󿬁 cationstems from the circulation of images of Candomblé in the media and in tourismads, which has resulted in the emergence of what Paul Johnson (2002) calls ‘ public Candomblé. ’  That is, although Candomblé was heavily persecuted at the beginning of the 20th century, by the end of that century the Bahian governmentwas proudly promoting Candomblé as part of the Brazilian heritage including by of  󿬁 cially recognizing Candomblé  terreiros  (temples) as cultural heritage of the 1 This article is based on roughly two years of ethnographic  󿬁 eldwork that I have conducted in Bahiasince 1999. During this time I conducted extensive interviews with religious practitioners, tourism pro-fessionals,andsocialactivists.Muchofmy 󿬁 eldworkinvolvedobservingreligiousceremoniesandmeet-ings in the Catholic, evangelical Christian, and Candomblé community. I haveworked especially closelywith the members of the Sisterhood of Our Lady of Good Death in Cachoeira, which I discuss in moredepth below. 404  S. Selka    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   U  n   i  v  e  r  s   i   t  y  o   f   W  e  s   t   F   l  o  r   i   d  a   ]  a   t   1   3  :   5   4   0   3   J  a  n  u  a  r  y   2   0   1   5  state (Pinho 2010; Romo 2010; Sansi 2007; Santos 2005). Indeed, Bahia is oftenframed as an important diasporic destination on the  ‘ map of Africanness ’  (Pinho2008), where, among other things, African-derived religions such as Candombléthrive. All of this makes Bahia a prime destination for tourists of the African dia-spora, particularly African Americans.Accordingly, this article examines Cachoeira as a  ‘ contact zone, ’  which Pratt(1991) de 󿬁 nes as a space  ‘ in which transculturation takes place  –  where two differ-ent cultures meet and inform each other, often in high asymmetrical ways. ’  Indeed,a number of different cultures, often in the form of religion, come into close contactin this city where the African and the European intersect at every turn. Candombléand Catholicism, for example, converge in the festival of Boa Morte. EvangelicalCandomblé and evangelical Christianity also intersect in Cachoeira, but this typi-cally results in more of a clash than of a convergence. 2 My main focus here, however, is how different readings of Cachoeira and its reli-giouslandscapeshapeencountersbetweenAfro-BraziliansandAfricanAmericans.The image of Bahia and Cachoeira as an African heritage site, for example, is asource of pride for Bahians who stress that African culture, and religion in theform of Candomblé in particular, has been better preserved in Brazil than inAfrica. Most African Americans who visit Bahia, however, many of whom are Pro-testant Christians, are in an odd position between crentes and  povo de santo  (Can-domblé practitioners). That is, they reject the framing of Candomblé as demonic but do not necessarily seek to formally commit to it as a religion. This raises thequestions: Where do Candomblé and Christianity  󿬁 t into African American andAfro-Brazilian understandings of the African diasporic heritage, and how dothese understandings diverge from each other? In what ways do these divergences,and indeed the very framing of religion as heritage itself, complicate encounters between these groups, particularly in a city where every corner is infused withcomplex religious and historical meanings? As I explore these questions, I hopeto shed light on the broader ways that the heritage frame shapes interactions between locals and outsiders and transforms the very spaces in which these inter-actions take place. The cityscape as a contact zone Cachoeira is more than a location on a map; the city is metonymically associatedwithAfrica,demons,andthelegacyofslavery.Indeed,Cachoeira ’ scityscapeiscon-stituted through  ‘ the tangle of physicality and symbolism, the sedimentation of various histories, the mingling of imaginations and experience ’  (Highmore 2005:5). This description of a space that is simultaneously material and symboliccould also characterize a museum. And like museums, cityscapes are zones of contact and contestation in which agents struggle over the meanings and purposesof the spaces in which they encounter one another.To the extent that the social production of space is a hegemonic project, however,some meanings and purposes are dominant over others (Lefebrve 1992). As Michelde Certeau (1988) points out, for example, the totalizing gaze of the city planner 2 Nevertheless, Candomblé and evangelical Christianity inform each other in signi 󿬁 cant ways (Silva2007). Religion  405    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   U  n   i  v  e  r  s   i   t  y  o   f   W  e  s   t   F   l  o  r   i   d  a   ]  a   t   1   3  :   5   4   0   3   J  a  n  u  a  r  y   2   0   1   5
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