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Mandinga

Power and Deception in Afro-Brazilian Capoeira

Sergio González Varela

This article is about the meaning of mandinga in Afro-Brazilian capoeira as it is practiced in the city of Salvador, Brazil. Capoeira is an art form that combines elements of ritual, play, and fight. My main argument focuses on the mandinga as an indigenous form of power that shapes social relations, bodily interaction, magic acts, and the definition of a person. The concept of mandinga offers an understanding of the deceptive logic of capoeira and contributes to the development of an ethnographic theory of power. The emphasis here is on the importance of mandinga as a strategy for fighting and as a principle for social interaction with strong ontological implications. It is considered a cosmological force that affects the foundations of subjective reality and the perception of the world.

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The Religious Foundations of Capoeira Angola

The Cosmopolitics of an Apparently Non-religious Practice

Sergio González Varela

ABSTRACT

Scholars commonly associate the religiosity of capoeira with the Afro-Brazilian religion of Candomblé, although some consider capoeira to be exclusively a martial art or even a sport. From the vantage point of the leaders of capoeira Angola groups, their individual power comes from a set of magical attributes that go beyond the influence of Afro-Brazilian religions. In this article, I explore an alternative form of spirituality that is based on the existence of spiritual beings such as the ancestors and the dead mestres (leaders). I argue that these entities emerge only in capoeira performances, affecting ritual action in such a way as to constitute an alternative form of religion that co-exists with Candomblé. By focusing on the effects that these spirits have in the configuration of charismatic personal power, it is possible to delineate cosmological attributes that make capoeira a potential religious practice in its own right.

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Ruy Llera Blanes, Sverker Finnström, John Harald Sande Lie, Dieter Devos, Natalia De Marinis, Sergio González Varela, and Nicolas Argenti

Dena Freeman, ed., Pentecostalism and Development: Churches, NGOs and Social Change in Africa Review by Ruy Llera Blanes

Nicolas Argenti and Katharina Schramm, eds., Remembering Violence: Anthropological Perspectives on Intergenerational Transmission Review by Sverker Finnström

Soumhya Venkatesan and Thomas Yarrow, eds., Differentiating Development: Beyond an Anthropology of Critique Review by Jon Harald Sande Lie

Michael Jindra and Joël Noret, eds., Funerals in Africa: Explorations of a Social Phenomenon Review by Dieter Devos

Heidi Moksnes, Maya Exodus: Indigenous Struggle for Citizenship in Chiapas Review by Natalia De Marinis

Diana Paton and Maarit Forde, eds., Obeah and Other Powers: The Politics of Caribbean Religion and Healing Review by Sergio González Varela

Charles Stewart, Dreaming and Historical Consciousness in Island Greece Review by Nicolas Argenti

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Judith Casselberry, Stephen D. Glazier, Minna Opas, Viola Teisenhoffer, Anastasios Panagiotopoulos, Brendan Jamal Thornton, Joseph Trapido, Sergio González Varela, Bruno Reinhardt, Cristóbal Bonelli, Bernardo E. Brown, and Grete Viddal

ABRAMS, Andrea C., God and Blackness: Race, Gender, and Identity in a Middle Class Afrocentric Church, 195 pp., references, index. New York: New York University Press, 2014. Paperback, $26. ISBN 9780814705247.

CHRISTENSEN, Jeanne, Rastafari Reasoning and the RastaWoman: Gender Constructions in the Shaping of Rastafari Livity, 202 pp., bibliography, index. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2014. Hardback, $80. ISBN 9780739175736.

COX, James L., The Invention of God in Indigenous Societies, 192 pp., notes, bibliography, index. Durham: Acumen, 2014. Paperback, $ 31. ISBN 9780520280472.

DAWSON, Andrew, Santo Daime: A New World Religion, 240 pp., notes, bibliography, index. New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013. Paperback, $40. ISBN 9781441154248.

DESCOLA, Philippe, Beyond Nature and Culture, trans. Janet Lloyd, 488 pp., notes, bibliography, index. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013. Hardback, $52. ISBN 9780226144450.

FLORES, Edward Orozco, God’s Gangs: Barrio Ministry, Masculinity, and Gang Recovery, 243 pp., notes, references, index. New York: New York University Press, 2013. Paperback, $22. ISBN 9781479878123.

GESCHIERE, Peter, God’s Witchcraft, Intimacy and Trust: Africa in Comparison, 243 pp., notes, references, index. 328 pp., notes, references, index. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013. Hardback, $75. ISBN 9780226047584.

Johnson, Paul Christopher, ed., Spirited Things: The Work of “Possession” in Afro-Atlantic Religions, 344 pp., notes, bibliography, index. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014. Hardback, $97.50. ISBN 9780226122625.

KLASSEN, Pamela E., Spirits of Protestantism: Medicine, Healing, and Liberal Christianity, 348 pp., notes, bibliography, index. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011. Paperback, $29.95. ISBN 9780520270992.

KOHN, Eduardo, How Forests Think: Toward an Anthropology Beyond the Human, 288 pp., notes, bibliography, index. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013. Paperback, $29.95. ISBN 9780520276116.

LUHRMANN, T. M., When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God, 464 pp., notes, bibliographic notes, bibliography, index. New York: Vintage Books, 2012. Paperback, $20. ISBN 9780307277275.

RAMSEY, Kate, The Spirits and the Law: Vodou and Power in Haiti, 448 pp., illustrations, maps, notes, bibliography, index. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011. Hardback, $50. ISBN 9780226703794.

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Ayse Serap Avanoglu, Diana Riboli, Juan Javier Rivera Andía, Annalisa Butticci, Iain R. Edgar, Matan Shapiro, Brooke Schedneck, Mark Sedgwick, Suzane de Alencar Vieira, Nell Haynes, Sara Farhan, Fabián Bravo Vega, Marie Meudec, Nuno Domingos, Heidi Härkönen, Sergio González Varela, and Nathanael Homewood