Work of the Fellows: Monographs

O Rei, o Pai e a Morte: A Religião Vodum na Antiga Costa dos Escravos na África Ocidental

By Luis Nicolau Parés (NHC Fellow, 2010–11)

São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2016

From the publisher’s description:

This book examines religious practices on the former Slave Coast in West Africa, corresponding to the extent where the Republic of Benin is today. In this small stretch of coast, a significant part of the Africans who arrived in slavery in Brazil, particularly in Bahia, embarked. The work privileges the two centuries that go from 1650 to 1850, when the transatlantic slave trade was more intense. The main kingdoms that dominated the region at that time were Aladá, later Uidá, and from the 1720s onwards, Dahomey. Because of the various languages ​​spoken in these societies, the gods were called in different ways, but the most common term was, and still is, vodum. Thus, the book analyzes the dynamism and historicity of the practice associated with voduns, highlighting its overlap with the political and economic life of these kingdoms. Due to the historical connection between Brazil and the place, the last part of the work addresses issues related to the repercussions that these customs had in Bahia and Maranhão. The forms of religiosity developed during the slave trade period were one of the main drivers for the recreation of Afro-Atlantic rituals. However, in addition to a simple one-way movement from Africa to Brazil, the forces of the trafficking economy have dramatically affected religious practices on both sides of the Atlantic. The slave system, marked by extreme power asymmetries, violence, racialization, social instability and generalized migrations, intensified a ritualistic form based on sacrificial exchange, hierarchization, possession and the imagination of witchcraft.

Religion / History / Slave Trade / Rituals / West African Vodun / Candomblé Jejé / Benin / Brazil /

Parés, Luis Nicolau (NHC Fellow, 2010–11). O Rei, o Pai e a Morte: A Religião Vodum na Antiga Costa dos Escravos na África Ocidental. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2016.