The Syllabus

The Message of Brazilian Rituals: Popular Celebrations and Carnival

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"The Message of Brazilian Rituals: Popular Celebrations and Carnival"

From Brazil: Body & Soul
Roberto DaMatta
Published in 2001
5 pages, fully illustrated

Roberto DaMatta offers a glimpse into the spirit of Brazil, exploring the ancient rituals and festivals that have provided a sense of security, identity, and national pride despite decades of political and economic strife.


When one speaks about Carnival and other Brazilian celebrations that lead to a relativizing, paradoxical, and ambiguous reading of social structure—especially of their attitude toward power structures and social order—one is speaking of a "popular" invested not by modern individualistic tradition, which has been transformed into a culture industry, or mass culture, but by an anti-individualistic and anti-market conception of the world. It is a "popular" in which everything is intertwined—nature with culture, this world with the beyond, the dead with the living, men with women, adults with children, work with leisure—by means of the visible and invisible links that celebrations invite us to experience, examine, understand. These links recreate a universe filled with human intentionality against the background of culture systems governed by the logic of compartmentalization, individualism, anonymity, and work as punishment and obligation.

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