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date: 20 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the role of the drums and their music in the formation and development of an Afro-Christian ritual called congado, in Minas Gerais, Brazil. Being the main means for social interactions, music is viewed as a privileged context for the protection, reconstruction, performance, and transmission of spiritual and other cultural knowledge among Africans and their descendants since colonial times, and thus for the reinterpretation of the Catholic faith. Historical and contemporary forms of the congado ritual are discussed, based on ethnographic research of present-day rituals, on a study of the literature on Bantu cultures and on slavery in Brazil, and on analysis of the drums’ performances. The main argument is that music has been used by participants as a conscious means of cultural resistance and survival, being a strategic context for keeping interactions and exchanges with their ancestors as well as for intra-group communication and social relations.

Keywords: Brazilian congado, drums, ancestors, music rituals, cultural resistance, brotherhoods of the rosary

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