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Transatlantic Dialogue: Roger Bastide And The African American Religions

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Chapter Summary

This chapter shows how Roger Bastide's theory of syncretism is the product of an intense dialogue with Brazilian modernists, with folklorists, psychiatrists and physicians who studied Afro-Brazilian religions in the 1930s and 1940s, as well as with scholars of African American cultures. In order to show the range of this 'transatlantic dialogue' between the Brazilian 'Africanists' and the French 'Brazilianists' in which Africa occupied a central place, the chapter analyzes two types of paradigm used by Bastide when he considered the logic of syncretism: the 'principle of compartmentalization' and the opposition between material acculturation and formal acculturation. The analysis shed light on two extremely important elements of Bastidian theory: the negation with the principle of compartmentalization of syncretism as a form of mixing and the reaction to the theory of the marginal man, torn between two universes and personified by the African American in general and the Afro-Brazilian in particular.

Keywords: African American religion; compartmentalization; Roger Bastide; syncretism



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