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Preface

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 January 2021

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Summary

Oh! Bahia da magia, dos feitiços e da fé. Oh! Bahia of magic, fetishes and faith.

Bahia que tem tantas igrejas, Bahia that has so many churches,

e tanto Candomblé. and so much Candomble.

… …

Vem, vem, vem, em busca da Bahia! Come, come, come, in search of Bahia!

Cidade da tentação, City of temptation,

onde meu feitiço impera. where my magic spell reigns.

Vem, se me trazes o teu coração! Come, if you bring me your heart!

Vem, a Bahia te espera, Bahia, Bahia! Come, Bahia awaits you, Bahia, Bahia!

This study will take you to Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, a palm-fringed place that likes to tell the world that it is the next best thing to paradise – and puts on a rather convincing performance of the paradisiacal (until, of course, it starts to rain). The roots of this project, however, stretch back to another time and place: the war-ridden Serbia of the early 1990s, where I conducted my first long-term anthropological fieldwork, and where I had to face the fact that people are not only shocked by the horrific spectacle of an all-out war, but seduced by it as well. In the book that I wrote about those dark and turbulent times, I found myself struggling with what I now recognize to be the great themes of Lacanian thought: the Serbian townsmen that figure in Gypsies, Wars and Other Instances of the Wild (van de Port 1998) had sought refuge from their traumatic experiences in World War II in ‘the symbolic order’ of Titoist Yugoslavia, which had provided them with a master-narrative to make sense of their past, present and future. This symbolic order, however, proved incapable to stand up to the forces of the Real. Faced with their world falling apart, my Serbian interlocutors resorted to fantasy: the kind of daydreaming that screens off the rents and fissures in one's narration of the world and is thus capable to restore the symbolic order. Yet they also gave themselves over to the debauchery of their Gypsy bars and to the ecstasies of war, in a desperate attempt to access a ‘really real’ beyond all narration and daydreaming.

Type
Chapter
Information
Ecstatic Encounters
Bahian Candomblé and the Quest for the Really Real
, pp. 7 - 10
Publisher: Amsterdam University Press
Print publication year: 2011

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