1. University of Virginia
  2. Arts & Sciences

Practitioners, Scholars and Practitioner Scholars: Double Voicing and Dual Addressivity in Brazilian Candomblé Conferences

This presentation examines the dually addressive and double-voiced character of public conferences organized by Brazilian practitioners of Candomblé, an African diasporic religion. Modeled on academic conferences these events aim to present Candomblé practitioners as public authorities on social issues and to provide a forum where practitioners from different temples can gather to discuss shared concerns. In this presentation, I analyze how participants work to balance address to both a general public as well as to a public composed of Candomblé practitioners. Specifically, I examine participants’ double-voiced adoption of scholarly registers. On the one hand, Candomblé practitioners understand the adoption of scholarly registers like conferencing to provide a means to establish themselves as experts like academics in the eyes of the general public. On the other hand, Candomblé practitioners are highly critical of the ways in which the religion has been represented by academics and so conference participants must take care not to be misrecognized as academics. I argue that conference participants use three key strategies to resolve this double-bind: (1) metapragmatic commentary that emphasizes the academic mode’s incompatibility with religious norms for enacting expertise, (2) a patterned use of personal and temporal deictics that locates participants and the events’ practitioner addressees in a middle-ground between scholarly and religious modes of interaction, and (3) requests for blessings that ground participants’ “expert” presentations in a religious interactional order. In conclusion I suggest that these attempts to manage the dangers of conferencing produce a new kind of public subject: an expert whose authority to speak in public is measured not only by competence in an academic register but also by recognition among a set of publicly validated religious experts. 

  • Brooks Hall Conference Room, 2nd Floor
    Sponsored by Department of Anthropology
Event Date: 
Friday, 13 April 2012 - 1:00pm to 3:00pm
Elina Hartikainen
Speaker Title: 
(University of Chicago and Carter G. Woodson Institute for African and African American Studies, University of Virginia)
Event Type: