201.4 Diaspora and Africa: Black identity constructions in Brazil

Thursday, August 2, 2012: 9:45 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Claudio CAVAS , Psychology, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Maria Inácia DAVILA NETO , Psychology, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Between the 16th and 19th centuries about 4 million Africans of several ethnicities/nations migrated to Brazil as slaves. The abolition of slavery in Brazil in the 19th century, lacking any policies of social insertion to Afro-descendants, generated huge racial inequalities in our society. Such inequalities inherited from the colonial period last until nowadays, as pointed out by social-economical indicators of the official research agencies. This is also present in the case of women. Africa “imagined” was recreated here through this mythic-religious world, and the women had a great importance in this process of maintaining and transmitting African oral sacred traditions. This work has the purpose of analyzing, within the perspective of post-colonial and cultural studies, the trajectory of Black women and their descendants victims of racism and sexism have occupied the highest hierarchical positions in their communities, searching for recognition through religious practices of African matrix. Semi-structured interviews were carried out in Rio de Janeiro with religious leaders, elected amongst those more aged and having a greater time of initiation. The analysis of the narrative of the leaders has revealed that women are not the passive subjects of the History. By means of negotiations with other traditions they assert their identities of gender, race and religion, struggling for a greater visibility and recognition. Chosen by the deities, the women value the legacy of the ancestors and the lineage of the worship, presenting a high self-worth and a highly estimated subjectivity, forming a large family where akin descent and ritual are merged, landmarks of their cultural identity.