Thirsting for Lemonade: Beyoncé and Racialized Urban Landscapes in Rio de Janeiro

Authors: Ty Redden*,
Topics: Latin America, Ethnicity and Race, Religion
Keywords: evictions, syncretic religions, racialized landscapes, Brazil
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Directors Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Much has been written of the urban social dynamics of Brazil, a country plagued by the lingering structural effects of slavery. Brazil’s high rate of miscegenation has long conflicted with its Eurocentric values of modernity, resulting in a socio-political hierarchy in which Afro-Brazilians and their cultural practices have borne the burden of stigmatization. Yet few scholars have explored the layered oppressions experienced by Afro-Brazilians living in the path of development and engaging in African cultural practices. This paper traces the continued practice of syncretic religions in Brazil, specifically Umbanda and Candomblé and the persecution their practitioners have increasingly faced in recent years despite growing public awareness of syncretic religions as a site of rich cultural production.

The worldwide commercial success of pop star Beyoncé’s visual album “Lemonade” illustrates the vibrant world of syncretic religions and their relevance to the African Disapora whilst the practitioners themselves faced an exponential increase in hate crimes including arson and murder in Brazil. The author details the removal of syncretic temples and places of worship disguised as favela evictions preceding the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics. The author demonstrates how governance failure and negligence has further marginalized vulnerable communities in Brazilian cities and reaffirmed racialized urban landscapes. The author asserts that the commercial success of Beyoncé’s album is a stark reminder and testament that amid Eurocentricity and Latinidade, Black culture is often praised while Black bodies are reviled.

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