Ecstatic Encounters

Bahian Candomblé and the Quest for the Really Real

Mattijs van de Port

Ecstatic Encounters
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Mattijs van de Port

Distributed for Amsterdam University Press

300 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2011
Paper $52.50 ISBN: 9789089642981 Published October 2011 For sale only in the United States, its dependencies, the Philippines, and Canada

For over a hundred years, writers, artists, anthropologists and tourists have travelled to Bahia, Brazil, in search of the spirit possession cult called Candomblé. Thus, successive generations of cultists have seen a long, steady stream of curious outsiders coming to their temples with notebooks and cameras, questions and inquisitive gazes, or ogling eyes and the hope of inclusion. This study asks what seduced these outsiders to seek access to the Afro-Brazilian religious universe and, conversely, how did cultists respond to the overwhelming interest in their creed and to becoming an object of the outsiders’ imaginations.

“Thriving in the gap between the sensuous fullness of life and the impossibility of its cultural representation, Ecstatic Encounters opens mind-blowing vistas for ’writing culture’ in anthropology today.”— Birgit Meyer, Free University of Amsterdam.

Introduction: Avenida Oceânica: Candomblé, mystery and the-rest-of-what-is in process of world-making
1. On Immersion: Academics and the seductions of a baroque society
2. Mysteries are Invisible: Understanding images in the Bahia of Dr Raimundo Nina Rodrigues
3. Re-encoding the Primitive: Surrealist appreciations of Candomblé in a violence-ridden world
4. Abstracting Candomblé: Defining the ‘public’ and the ‘particular’ dimensions of a spirit possession cult
5. Allegorical Worlds: Baroque aesthetics and the notion of an ‘absent truth’
6. Bafflement Politics: Possessions, apparitions and the really real of Candomblé’s miracle productions
7. The Permeable Boundary: Media imaginaries in Candomblé’s public performance of authenticity
Conclusions: Cracks in the Wall: Invocations of the-rest-of-what-is in the anthropological study of world-making

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