Umbanda and Quimbanda Magic in Brazil : Rethinking Aspects of Bastide s Works / Magie Umbanda et Quimbanda au Brésil. A propos d aspects des travaux de Bastide - article ; n°1 ; vol.79, pg 135-153
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Umbanda and Quimbanda Magic in Brazil : Rethinking Aspects of Bastide's Works / Magie Umbanda et Quimbanda au Brésil. A propos d'aspects des travaux de Bastide - article ; n°1 ; vol.79, pg 135-153

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Archives des sciences sociales des religions - Année 1992 - Volume 79 - Numéro 1 - Pages 135-153
19 pages
Source : Persée ; Ministère de la jeunesse, de l’éducation nationale et de la recherche, Direction de l’enseignement supérieur, Sous-direction des bibliothèques et de la documentation.



Publié par
Publié le 01 janvier 1992
Nombre de lectures 84
Langue Français
Poids de l'ouvrage 1 Mo


David J. Hess
Umbanda and Quimbanda Magic in Brazil : Rethinking Aspects
of Bastide's Works / Magie Umbanda et Quimbanda au Brésil. A
propos d'aspects des travaux de Bastide
In: Archives des sciences sociales des religions. N. 79, 1992. pp. 135-153.
Citer ce document / Cite this document :
Hess David J. Umbanda and Quimbanda Magic in Brazil : Rethinking Aspects of Bastide's Works / Magie Umbanda et
Quimbanda au Brésil. A propos d'aspects des travaux de Bastide. In: Archives des sciences sociales des religions. N. 79, 1992.
pp. 135-153.
doi : 10.3406/assr.1992.1552 de Sc Soc des Rel. 1992 79 juillet-septembre) 135-153
David HESS
Prenant comme point de repère les rites très structurés du Candomblé
Bahia Roger Bastide voulait démontrer que la magie noire des centres
urbains dans le sud-est du Brésil est-à-dire la Macumba et Quim
banda que on associe Umbanda représentait une désagrégation reli
gieuse et qu elle se composait de maigres rites sans ordre précis Notre
essai veut donner une analyse structurale comparée des formules de magie
publiées par un médium de Umbanda/Quimbanda essai montre abord que
ces formules possèdent une logique interne qui leur est propre et deuxième
ment que la distinction entre la magie Umbandiste et Quimbandiste magie
blanche et magie noire reste très problématique interprétation de
Bastide qui voit dans la magie noire une absence ordre serait une projection
qui reflète son afro-centrisme analyse que autres spécialistes ont proposée
dans autre contextes
Tomando como punto de referenda los ritos del candomblé de Bah que
son ritos particularmente estructurados Roger Bastide quer demostrar que
la magia negra de los centros urbanos del sud este del Brasil es decir la
magia Macumba Quimbanda que se asocia la Umbanda) representaba una
desagregaci religiosa que se trataba de ritos simples sin orden preciso
El autor por su parte se propone presentar un an lisis estructural comparado
de las formas de magia publicadas pour un médium de Umbanda/Quimbanda
El an lisis muestra en primer lugar que dichas rmulas poseen una gica
interna que les es propia en segundo lugar que la distinci entre Umban-
dista Quimbandista magia blanca magia negra sigue siendo pro
blem tica La interpretaci de Bastide que ve en la magia negra una ausencia
de orden ser una proyecci que refleja su afro-centrismo an lisis que otros
autores han se alado ya en otros contextos
Two decades have now passed since the death of Roger Bastide and per
haps the strongest compliment to his memory as scholar is that his ideas
continue to be source of controversy and debate in several fields particularly
in Brazilian religious studies Scholars frequently return to his theories as
kind of standard against which they pose their own interpretations For exam
ple Maria Isaura Pereira de Queiroz 1977 set up her analysis of popular
Catholicism in contrast to work and have also used in
terpretations (1967 of Kardecian Spiritism as foil to my own analyses 1987
1989 1991 By far the most important area of discussion of work
has been his controversial theory of Umbanda religion of southeastern Brazil
whose mediums receive the spirits of Amerindians caboclos) old black slaves
pretos velhos) and trickster spirits known as Exus and Pomba Giras This
essay will review ideas on Umbanda and its siblings Macumba and
Quimbanda and it will use these ideas as springboard to new interpretation
of contemporary Umbanda and Quimbanda magic
In The African Religions of Brazil 1978 1960) Bastide argued that in
early XXth-century Rio de Janeiro and Paulo the Afro-Brazilian religion
Macumba was in state of disarray due in part to the effects of indus
trialization He argued that Macumba was subsequently displaced by Umban
da which represented the ambivalence of the mulatto and black urban working
class toward its African heritage As an upgrading of Macumba through slpi-
ritism 317 2) Umbanda retained the acceptable elements of Macumba
whereas the latter became known as Quimbanda repository of the rejected
the primitive and the unacceptable in the African traditions 322)
analysis rests on two major points on the one hand the conti
nuity between Macumba and Quimbanda and on the other the division
between Quimbanda and Umbanda On the first point Bastide writes
Umbanda instead of pointing out that Macumba is religion accepts this erro
neous popular conception as concrete fact Thus Quimbanda identified with
Macumba becomes kind of inverted spiritism black magic working through
disembodied savages ghosts and skeletons under the direction of two of the most
formidable Negro deities Exu god of the lost crossroads and Omolu god of
smallpox 324)
Likewise he follows some Umbanda writers and emphasizes the difference
between Quimbanda and magic
Hence the distinction between black magic Quimbanda) which uses Exus to
spread dissension among our enemies and white magic Umbanda which uses
only good forces To be more precise Umbanda may have recourse to Exus but for the purpose of lifting spells or driving out these spirits prior to any
ceremony in the tent 329-330)
Bastide does not analyze Quimbanda magic in detail but since he argues
in these passages that it is continuation of Macumba magic one can turn
to his interpretation of Macumba magic which appears in some detail in the
chapter of The African Religions of Brazil titled Two Forms of Religious
Disintegration Whereas he believed that Candomblé meaning here the or
thodox Yoruba Candomblé of Bahia was and still is means of social
control an instrument of solidarity and communion 300) he argued that
Rio Macumba is becoming more and more debased losing all its religious
instincts and degenerating into stage show or mere black magic 298 He
further argues that Macumba magic developed by adding haphazardly to the
panoply of African rites the techniques of European medieval witches and
sorcerers which were known to be effective against whites because they them
selves made use of them 400 This accumulation 400 of very mea
ger magic rituals 300 led to the jumble of objects and rites 300 of
Macumba magic In turn this disorganization coupled with the participation
of whites unleashed criminal and immoral tendencies that may range from
rape to murder 300 In short Bastide condemned Macumba in terms re
miniscent of those used by the medical profession and the police in the
for all spirit mediumship religions or in other words in terms similar to the
racist and elitist paradigms that he dedicated much of his career to criticizing
As might be expected interpretation of Macumba Quimbanda
and Umbanda has been extremely controversial To begin Diana Brown
1986 cf Negr 1979 found much higher level of white and middle-class
participation in Umbanda than Bastide had suggested and student
Renato Ortiz 1978 argued that Umbanda represented an expression of na
tional ideology rather than one restricted to specific race and class Both
of these studies seriously undermined linkage of Umbanda ideology
to the dilemmas of an urban proletariat of color
In fairness to Bastide one might counter-argue that in work finished short
ly before his death in 1974 he was revising the framework that he had pre
sented fourteen years earlier in The African Religions of Brazil It true that
in these last writings he recognized that whites and mulattoes of the middle
class composed the great majority of the leaders of Umbanda centers
1974b 23) although he did not discuss white participation in the rank-and-
file Furthermore he now characterized Umbanda as une création du peuple
brésilien recherchant une spiritualité qui exprime dans sa totalité pluri-ra-
ciale donc une religion plus authentique 1974a 18 These last comments
might be taken as steps in the direction of the analyses later published by
Brown and Ortiz
Nevertheless these were only steps and one must be careful not to over
estimate the extent of the revision in the ultima scripta For example in
La communication au Colloque de Dakar Bastide maintained that the Um
banda constituted purification of Macumba 1974b 23 and that this process
represented lower class now viewed as racially more heterogeneous that
was still selectively affirming and rejecting the African heritage of many of
its members 1974b 27 As result even his ultima scripta did not re
voke the analysis of Macumba Umbanda and Quimbanda presented in The
African Religions of Brazil to Bastide Quimbanda still represented the un
wanted aspects of that part of the African heritage which was pro
blematic for working-class blacks and mulattoes and since he used the phrase
racially heterogeneous he apparently now included whites in the modern
industrial city
Another set of criticisms of work which provides the theoretical
basis for this essay comes from group of scholars

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