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Free To Be A Slave: Slavery As Metaphor In The Afro-Atlantic Religions

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Chapter Summary

This chapter surveys the well-documented but taken-for-granted images of enslavement at the heart of Afro-Brazilian, Afro-Cuban, Haitian and Black North American religions that employ slavery as a sacred metaphor of proper personhood, personal efficacy and moral rectitude. It talks about when and how some present-day people think about slavery when they are pursuing healing, wealth, power, and safe haven from their adversaries. The chapter considers how religious people’s ritual and verbal images of slavery reflect and affect their present-day social worlds. It also talks about the North American discourse of ‘slavery’ and ‘freedom’ as they might be viewed through the lens of the Afro-Latin American religions. Umbanda and Spiritism are arguably the Afro-Atlantic religions in which whites have had the greatest influence as interpreters of slavery. Discourses of ‘slavery’ and rituals of enslavement can also heal people and restore their sense of personal efficacy and self-possession.

Keywords: Afro-Atlantic religions; moral rectitude; North American religions; sacred metaphor; spiritual slavery



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