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The Taste of Blood: Spirit Possession in Brazilian Candomble (Contemporary Ethnography) Paperback – 1 Jun 1991

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Product details

  • Paperback: 236 pages
  • Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press (1 Jun. 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812213416
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812213416
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.4 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,327,992 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

"An excellent story, rich in ethnographic material, untraditional in form, courageous in personal revelations, and with definite qualities in the attempts to guide the reader through insights, recognitions, and increasing understanding, without hiding the researcher's own confusion and doubts. It gives us more than a slight glance into the fascinating, earthly, puzzling, and still too little known world of Brazilian Candomble."-Ethnos. "Well written and rich in ethnographic detail, the book makes an engaging story with sometimes touching accounts of personal experiences with fellow initiates who have "tasted the blood" of a religion that traces its roots to Africa and Brazilian folk traditions."-Society of Lesbian and Gay Anthropologists Newsletter "A narrative full of almost novelistic devices, attempting to evoke the full reality of this complex, unknown, exciting and somewhat frightening way, or concept, of life."-British Bulletin of Publications "Succeeds as an innovative ethnography... Intriguing and scintillating ... The Taste of Blood brilliantly explores both Condomble and the representations of ethnographic research."-Folklore Forum

About the Author

Jim Wafer works as a consultant anthropologist in central Australia.

Inside This Book

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First Sentence
On my second-last night in Brazil I walked across the dunes to Jaraci to take leave of friends there, and after the human farewells wound up in the company of two exuas, Pomba-Gira and Sete Saia. Read the first page
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Format: Paperback
In spite of the lurid title, this seems to be among one of the better readily available volumes on Candomblé. Wafer is careful to recognise the limitations of his study, yet his immersive, embedded technique brings out a personal element while maintaining some academic sensibility. The Taste of Blood was the winner of the 1992 Victor Turner Prize in Ethnographic Writing.

Accessible and informative, Wafer brings the human element of everyday life from within a small Candomblé community as well as critiquing his own understanding and attempts at more sophisticated analysis. You can sometimes find more detailed studies by going to Brazilian bookshops, especially those specialising in antiquarian material, but many are in Portuguese, and English-language books, even well-regarded ones, frequently misrepresent facts by overlaying the authors' own theories, or by failing to distinguish practitioners' understanding of their own work from the same practitioners' over-arching comments about Candomblé and Brazilian (or Afro-Brazilian diasporic) ethnic religion(s) in general.

Wafer steers a more careful road by focussing on what he himself sees and hears and leaving interpretation to others.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
an interesting read 26 April 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In his book, Jim Wafer explores not only Candomble from an anthropological standpoint, but from his very personal experience in Bahia, Brazil. Wafer skillfully weaves academic arguments with an enjoyable narration, which keeps the reader invested in his account on many levels. Wafer structures his book, appropriately, on the different Candomble spirits, and so his journey in the book leads the reader not only through his experience as an outsider but the experience of the Candomble ceremony as well, first calling the exus, then the caboclos, then the orixa. Wafer also manages to hit on key issues within Candomble: gender relations, sexual orientation, "Africanness" and racialization, class, etc. My only complaint is that Wafer does not explore these aspects of life in Bahia and Candomble enough. Despite a somewhat sensational title and a final chapter that seems to be out of place in Wafer's personal account, this book is solid, and I recommend it.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Difficult but Intriguing 22 Sept. 2009
By Joseph Morales - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A trained anthropologist, Jim Wafer spent a year in Brazil researching Candomble for his doctorate. The result is a thought-provoking but often difficult and sometimes frustrating account. He alternates between narrative passages where he describes people he met and things he observed, and other analytical passages where he discusses theories of anthropology. Those theoretical passages are particularly dense, and leave one wondering whether specialists only seem to write obscurely because they assume so much expertise, or whether it is actually important for them to write obscurely in order to establish their insider status to other specialists. The narrative passages bring to light many aspects of Candomble that have not appeared in more popular accounts of Afro-Brazilian religion. Wafer focuses on the Exus and Caboclos, the least exalted of the Cadomble pantheon, and shows that their possessions often come outside of any ritual context. He also suggests that the personalities of the medium and those of the possessing "entity" are not entirely distinct, but tend to blur together. And he gives much valuable insight into the personality and political conflicts that go on in a terreiro. You could say he's giving the least flattering view of Candomble, in which neurotic and self-centered people use a complex religion as a semi-successful coping mechanism in their lives. What is missing is any vivid sense of the transcendant mood of the experience, or the joyful energy so evident in Candomble and Umbanda recordings. Wafer seems often to feel guilty or depressed by his status as a pretend-devotee, given unusual attention by a leader who hopes to exploit this foreign intellectual for publicity. Also, Wafer cheats by not explaining his own religious beliefs, and thus denying us a context to understand his observations. Evidently a person who is fond of hinting and being indirect, Wafer seems, at a guess, to be about 25% open to the possibility that supernatural factors are at work, and about 50% committed to a postmodernist view that there is no "objective" reality anyway. I'd say the book is worth reading selectively for the interesting observations that emerge here and there. A more sympathetic and idealized account of Umbanda, a closely-related Afro-Brazilian tradition, is available in Macumba: The Teachings of Maria-José, Mother of the Gods.
With a grain of salt... 13 July 2013
By Dofona Oloxum - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
is how you should take this text. It's a great first hand account of one man's very specific experience in one terreiro (that seems equal parts Umbanda & Candomble) during a very specific time. Being that it's one of the few books in English about Candomble, folks interested in Candomble tend to flock to it. Be careful, because this isn't a book about Candomble in general and your experiences are likely to be different than his own. He also goes into great detail about things that happen to him while he's in ritual, and that could ruin your own experience if you hope to have one.
Five Stars 3 April 2015
By O. Perez - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An eye opener.
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