Ritual Infrastructure

Roads to Certainty in Two Brazilian Religions

in The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology
Restricted access

Abstract

This article compares the ways in which two different religions in Brazil generate roads to certainty through objectification, one through gods, the other through banknotes. The Afro-Brazilian religion Candomblé provides a road to certainty based on cosmological ideas about gods whose presence in ritual is made indubitable through performance and social consensus. Candomblé has historically gained its spiritual force by being both marginal to mainstream religion and spatially peripheral. In contrast, the Neo-Pentecostal Universal Church of the Kingdom of God is located in easily accessible places within urban life. There is a certain parallel between these different locations and the difference in ritual roads to certainty in the two religions. The article draws out connections between different levels of infrastructure – material, spatial and ritual. The comparison between the two religions points to a social imaginary that in both cases has to do with how to deal with indeterminacies in life through objectification.

Contributor Notes

Inger Sjørslev is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen. She has done fieldwork in Brazil over many years, and her latest publications related to this are a book on material culture in which a chapter draws on empirical material from Candomblé, Ting i nære og fjerne verdener (Aarhus University Press, 2013), and ‘The Magic of the Gestalt: Forms and Fetishes in the Realms of Rationality’, in V. Steffen et al. (eds.), Between Magic and Rationality: On the Limits of Reason in the Modern World (Museum Tusculanum Press, 2015).

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