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Sorcery in the Black Atlantic

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... In all of these cases, witchcraft mutates (or shapeshifts) to attack the uncertainty that circulates in communities. As Pareś and Sansi-Roca (2011) argue, it is the ambiguity of the occult -of secrecy, of liminality, of the practice and nature of witchcraft -that gives it the plasticity to shape itself depending on the context. Paraphrasing the famous line in Evans-Pritchard (1937: 513), quoted also by the Comaroffs (1999: 279) and Max Gluckman (1963: 141) (2014) on the Indonesian island of Buli suggests witchcraft need have no specific social function, role or discourse. ...
... At the beginning of the 20th century, Afro-Brazilian followers of Candomblé were persecuted by the police because it was regarded as a form of sorcery (Harding 2000;Maggie 1992;Parés and Sansi 2011). Today, however, Candomblé is a valued component of Brazil's Afro-Brazilian cultural heritage. ...
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Nas ultimas décadas, a religião Afro-brasileira Candomblé atravessou um longo processo de patrimonialização. Esse processo tem girado entorno da noção de axé, ou poder ancestral, incorporado em templos, objetos e pessoas. Algumas variantes rituais ou “nações” do Candomblé tem tido mais sucesso que outras em reproduzir o seu poder ancestral, virando também mas identificáveis como objetos de cultura e patrimônio. Nesse artigo vou contrastar esse processo como outro que poderia ser visto como seu oposto: a “naturalização” dos rituais, objetos, espíritos que aparecem no Candomblé como eventos inéditos, novas entidades “naturais”, milagres e lugares de peregrinação, mas no fundo são repetições de antigos mitos e lugares que tem sido conscientemente esquecidos como tais, virando dessa forma irreconhecíveis como objetos de patrimônio. [Arte, Afro-Latino Americanos, Brasil, Candomblé, Religião] In the last decades, the Afro-Brazilian religion Candomblé has undergone an extensive process of patrimonialization. This process has been focused on the notion of axe, or ancestral power, embodied in temples, objects, and people. Some ritual variants of Candomblé have been more successful than others in the reproduction of this ancestral power, becoming also more easily identifiable as objects of culture and patrimony. In this article, I will contrast this process with what in many ways is its opposite: the “naturalization” of some rituals, objects, spirits, which appear in Candomblé as unprecedented events, new “natural” entities, miraculous sites, and places of pilgrimage, but in fact are iterations of old myths and places that have been consciously forgotten as such, and therefore, have become irredeemable as objects of culture. [art, Afro-Latin Americans, Brazil, Candomblé, religion]
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This book discusses the career of the near-legendary South African inyanga (medicine man) Khotso Sethuntsa (1898 - 1972). He derived much of his wealth from the charms and potions that he sold, particularly ukuthwala, a magical procedure for long-term wealth, widely believed to involve the ownership of the mamlambo, a wealth-giving spirit. The ways in which magic can be converted into a marketable commodity are explored, as is the way Sethuntsa made use of mythmaking and mystery to further his career. The links between magic and politics are also examined. Sethuntsa operated in the days of white minority rule and leading Afrikaner Nationalist politicians, including H.F. Verwoerd, visited him, seeking his medicines for political power, it has been claimed. A reprint of this book has recently been issued. The book can be purchased via the following link (or via Amazon or www.loot.co.za): https://jacana.co.za/product/the-extraordinary-khotso-millionaire-medicine-man-from-lusikisiki/