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Title: A dialogue with nature : sacrificial offerings in Candomblé religion
Author: Capponi, Giovanna
ISNI:       0000 0004 7233 6128
Awarding Body: University of Roehampton
Current Institution: University of Roehampton
Date of Award: 2018
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The present work explores the relationships Candomblé followers interweave with the environment and with animals through ritual offerings and sacrificial practices. As a self-defined “religion of nature”, Afro-Brazilian Candomblé can be described as the cult of the orixás, deities whose origins can be traced to West Africa and who are connected with the natural elements in the landscape. The complex use of food items, other elements and animals in the rituals makes it necessary to investigate the role of these elements in Candomblé cosmology and to take into account emic perceptions of human-environment relations. Ritual practices develop around culturally determined ways of relating and perceiving the environment but they are also subjected to modifications and innovations. By presenting detailed ethnographic accounts of Candomblé rituals in Brazil but also in Italy (where a Candomblé house has been active for two decades), this thesis demonstrates how the ritual structure can be understood as a pattern that follows variations based on the needs of humans, but also on the tastes of the invisible entities and the agency of animals. The renegotiation of these elements takes the form of a dialogic process between the different parts. Ritual offerings and sacrifices can be understood not only as a form of feeding and exchanging favours with the orixás but also as a form of communication between the visible and the invisible world. Moreover, the constant correspondences and deferrals between humans, animals and orixás in the chants, in the mythology and the ritual proceedings allow the possibility of understanding animal sacrfice as being performed not only for the benefit, but also as a substitute, of a human life. Lastly, this thesis shows how ritual change is also expressed by the incorporation of contemporary notions of environmental ethics and pollution, allowing for new understandings of natural landscapes as a social and historical construct.
Supervisor: Marvin, Garry ; Praet, Istvan Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: human-environment relations ; sacrifice ; Candomble ; ritual ; Brazil