Candomblé in Brazil: The Contribution of African-Origin Religions to Biocultural Diversity in the Americas
In Latin America, the search for alternatives to environmental crisis means recovering the sociocultural practices of local communities, especially peasant communities and those of original peoples and African descendants. Modernity, organized by empirical evidence, abstract analytical thinking, and pure reason, thereby excluding the emotional and sacred, was imposed as part of the colonial enterprise. Colonial modernity effectively negated the ways and thought of local communities, even though they had demonstrated through deep time social and environmental sustainability. This negation occurred because modern rationality has been incapable of considering the wisdom, thought, and knowledge of colonized peoples as legitimate, therefore impeding their possibilities of future projection based on their own reason and historical projects. To listen and to dialogue with colonized peoples presuppose a place where an honest and profound exchange of wisdom can take place. It implies moving from “only one truth,” the paradigm of scientific modernity, to an understanding that there are “other paradigms.” In this chapter, embedded in the “paradigm of the other,” we assume as our place of reflection, the traditional pathways of African descendants, particularly of Candomblé, an African-origin religion widely practiced in Brazil. In this religious tradition, tree leaves have souls, the spirits speak, the ancestors feast, and life is reproduced in harmonious, loving, caring, and respectful relationships. If the environmental crisis is to be confronted, the relationship to the earth needs to be understood from other paradigms. These emerge from the diverse experiences that have been made invisible during so many years of recent history. It is here that Candomblé can contribute a distinct understanding of, and relationship with, the Divine, an understanding that consequently brings forth relationships of responsibility, care, and love for nature.
KeywordsParadigm of the other Slavery Quilombo Orișha Nature
This chapter was written jointly, based on Lima da Silva’s visits to the community in January 2017 and interviews she conducted with Pai Paulo de Ogun during May and June 2017. We consider the community of ILÉ AşÉ ÒGÚN ÀLÁKÒRÓ to be the proper subject of our narrative and experiences that we share in this chapter.
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