Blacks of the Rosary

Memory and History in Minas Gerais, Brazil

By (author) Elizabeth W. Kiddy

Paperback - £24.95

Publication date:

15 March 2007

Length of book:

304 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271026947

Blacks of the Rosary tells the story of the Afro-Brazilian communities that developed within lay religious brotherhoods dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary in Minas Gerais. It shows how these brotherhoods functioned as a social space in which Africans and their descendants could rebuild a communal identity based on a shared history of an African past and an ongoing devotional practice, thereby giving rise to enduring transnational cultures that have survived to the present day. In exploring this intersection of community, identity, and memory, the book probes the Portuguese and African contributions to the brotherhoods in Part One. Part Two traces the changes and continuities within the organizations from the early eighteenth century to the end of the Brazilian Empire, and the book concludes in Part Three with discussion of the twentieth-century brotherhoods and narratives of the participants in brotherhood festivals in the 1990s. In a larger sense, the book serves as a case study through which readers can examine the strategies that Afro-Brazilians used to create viable communities in order to confront the asymmetry of power inherent in the slave societies of the Americas and their economic and social marginalization in the twentieth century.

“In Blacks of the Rosary Elizabeth Kiddy makes a most welcome addition to the history of the African Diaspora in the New World. She skillfully connects the lives, ceremonies, and celebrations of Afro-Brazilians in colonial Minas Gerais to those of their modern urban descendants in the still racially identified communities of present-day Belo Horizonte. She carefully traces the evolution and development of the brotherhoods and congados from their origins to the present and illuminates a fascinating process of negotiation and adaptation through which Afro-Brazilians sought to establish and define their own community identities.”

—Kathleen J. Higgins, California State University, Sacramento