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Eleonora A. Lundell

Abstract

This article* concentrates on the material side of religious intimacy in Afro-Brazilian Umbanda through an ‘ontographic’ perspective as well as looking at materiality as evidence. It is based on an eleven-month fieldwork period among devotees, clients and individual practitioners of Umbanda in Southeast Brazilian metropolises, especially in São Paulo. In people’s experiences of spiritual work (trabalho) and spiritual development (desenvolvimento) carried out with Exús – guardians, guides and protectors who have, after their death, returned in order to work for people’s wellbeing – ritual objects (such as bodies, clothes, beverages, herbs, cigarettes, candles, songs) are seen as constitutive in knowledge production and life transformation. The central claim in this article is that diverse material and immaterial objects through which Exús interact and materialise, are neither primarily symbolic nor representative, but are re-configurative.

Open access

Pirjo Kristiina Virtanen, Eleonora A. Lundell and Marja-Liisa Honkasalo

Abstract

‘Landscape’ and ‘ritual’ have been largely discussed in the social and human sciences, although their inter-relatedness has gained little scholarly attention. Drawing on earlier studies of ritual and landscape, as well as the authors′ own ethnographic works, ‘ritual landscape’ is suggested here as a useful analytical tool with which to understand how landscapes are produced, and how they, in their turn, produce certain types of being. ‘Ritual landscape’ recognises different modalities of agency, power-relation, knowledge, emotion, and movement. The article shows how the subjectivity of other-than-human beings such as ancestors, earth formations, land, animals, plants and, in general, materiality of ritual contexts, shape landscapes. We argue that ways of perceiving landscape includes a number of material and immaterial aspects indicated by ways of moving through landscapes and interacting with different human and non-human subjects that come to inhabit the world, creating relations and producing agentive ensembles and complexes.