Two major questions have risen up from our journey into the
world of Afro-Brazilian religions. What mechanisms are at
work in the construction of tradition? How do power relation-
ships affect the internal organization of the Afro-Brazilian re-
ligious field?
It seems impossible to label one or another religious modality
as traditional, when, as we have seen, there are constant shifts
between tradition and change, even in what are regarded as the
purest Candomblé nations. In this way, an invented institution
such as the obás of Xangô becomes the symbol of a rediscov-
ered tradition in the Axé Opô Afonjá, and its modification—
unacceptable to traditionalists—is reinterpreted (and legiti-
mized) within the framework of an African logic. It is in the
name of greater proximity to a mythical Africa that one religious
group claims hegemony over the others. Anthropologists, by
recognizing a religious family’s traditionalism, justify its posi-
tion, and become in some way the guarantors of orthodoxy.
It is therefore definitively impossible to talk of Candomblé
as a religious practice which clearly distinguishes between those
who practice the ‘‘African religion’’ and those who allow them-
selves to be contaminated by external influences. What was
presented for a long time as a monolithic unit from which ema-
nated the essence of an immutable past is now to be seen as
a complex entity whose boundaries can be negotiated. In fact,
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