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Oduduwa's ChainLocations of Culture in the Yoruba-Atlantic$
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Andrew Apter

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226506388

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226506555.001.0001

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Herskovits’s Heritage

Herskovits’s Heritage

(p.17) One Herskovits’s Heritage
Oduduwa's Chain

Andrew Apter

University of Chicago Press

This chapter returns to the classic problem of religious syncretism in Haitian Vodou, Cuban Santería, and Brazilian Candomblé. It reformulates Melville Herskovits’s syncretic paradigm in more dynamic and critical terms, based on the Yoruba hermeneutics of political revision, to argue that the ritual association of African gods with Catholic saints developed less as a psychological mechanism of acculturation, as Herskovits maintained, and more as a strategy of collective empowerment and agency among slaves and free blacks in the Americas. Reanalyzed through the lens of Yoruba ritual organization, the cultural continuities between West African and New World religious “cults” are shown to be much closer than the standard narrative of deracination allows

Keywords:   Melville Herskovits, Yoruba hermeneutics, syncretism, Yoruba ritual organization

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