Since its original publication in Portuguese in 2008, this first English translation of Divining Slavery has been extensively revised and updated, complete with new primary sources and a new bibliography. It tells the story of Domingos Sodre, an African-born priest who was enslaved in Bahia, Brazil in the nineteenth century. After obtaining his freedom, Sodre became a slave owner himself, and in 1862 was arrested on suspicion of receiving stolen goods from slaves in exchange for supposed 'witchcraft'. Using this incident as a catalyst, the book discusses African religion and its place in a slave society, analyzing its double role as a refuge for blacks as well as a bridge between classes and ethnic groups (such as whites who attended African rituals and sought help from African diviners and medicine men). Ultimately, Divining Slavery explores the fluidity and relativity of conditions such as slavery and freedom, African and local religions, personal and collective experience and identities in the lives of Africans in the Brazilian diaspora.
Joao Jose Reis is Professor of History at the Universidade Federal da Bahia, Brazil. An award-winning historian and lifetime Honorary Foreign Member of the American Historical Association, he has published extensively on the history of slavery in nineteenth-century Brazil. H. Sabrina Gledhill is the author of many scholarly articles, essays and book chapters, and has translated over thirty books.
Preface; 1. Cops and Candomble in Domingos Sodre's day; 2. From an African in Onim to a slave in Bahia; 3. Domingos Sodre, diviner; 4. Witchcraft and slavery; 5. Witchcraft and manumission; 6. Meet some friends of Domingos Sodre, 7. Domingos Sodre; Epilogue.