INTRODUCTION
This book is the result of a long personal journey. During my
first trip to Brazil in 1983 for bibliographic research about Can-
domblé, many questions began to take shape. Why had most
studies focused on only one of the modalities found in the Afro-
Brazilian religious universe?∞ Why did the discourse—of people
linked to Candomblé, but also of researchers who wrote on this
subject—insist so much on religious ‘‘purity’’? I was impressed
by the apparent uniformity of the cult centers, which contrasted
with the constant division of the religious universe into ‘‘pure’’
and ‘‘impure’’ cults along lines of religious genealogy, creating a
hierarchy in the Afro-Brazilian religious field. The differences
established by native discourse on origins appeared to perme-
ate the discourse of the researchers, with little analysis of the
mechanisms of how these differences were constituted. The two
discourses, native and anthropological, overlapped curiously.
At first I thought that by presenting another tradition—the
Angola tradition, for example—I could contribute to question-
ing what appeared to me to be an a priori in Afro-Brazilian
studies: that the Yoruba (or Nagô) were the guardians of reli-
gious ‘‘purity,’’ while the Bantu (Angola and Congo) had folklore
as their ‘‘own special cultural focal point’’ (Bastide 1971, 194).
And so, while defending my master’s thesis at the Museu Na-
cional of Rio de Janeiro in 1991, I was hopeful that I had pre-
sented an original worldview, an expression of a lesser known
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