Abstract: In this article the author explores the ways in which Catholic, evangelical, and Candomblé actors produce competing framings that shape encounters taking place in the city of Cachoeira in the Brazilian state of Bahia. The framing of Cachoeira as a site of heritage tourism – one where local religious practices are read as part of the African heritage and attractions for African American ‘roots tourists’ – obscures as much as it reveals. This is not to suggest that this framing is entirely inaccurate or to deny that many visitors themselves describe their trips to Bahia this way. But I contend that the ‘heritage frame’ masks key issues that complicate diasporic encounters in Cachoeira, particularly different understandings of heritage and religion and their relationship to black identity that African Americans and Afro-Brazilians bring to these encounters.
Publisher’s Description: The last three decades have witnessed a rapid proliferation of African Christian communities, particularly in Europe and North American diaspora, thus resulting in the remapping of old religious landscapes. This migratory trend and development bring to the fore the crucial role, functions and import of religious symbolic systems in new geo-cultural contexts. The trans-national linkages between African-led churches in the countries of origin (Africa) and the “host” societies are assuming increasing importance for African immigrants. The links and networks that are established and maintained between these contexts are of immense religious, cultural, economic, political and social importance. This suggests how African Christianities can be understood within processes of religious transnationalism and African modernity.
Based on extensive religious ethnography undertaken by the author among African Christian communities in Europe, the USA and Africa in the last 17 years, this book maps and describes the incipience and consolidation of new brands of African Christianities in diaspora. The book demonstrates how African Christianities are negotiating and assimilating notions of the global while maintaining their local identities.