Chazelle Elizabeth Rhoden

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Columbia U.

Grant number

Gr. 10720

Approve Date

April 15, 2024

Project Title

Rhoden, Chazelle (Columbia U.) "Afro-religious Animations: Spirit, Space and Climate-driven Conservation in Brazil"

Scholarship in South America and on political ontology highlights the alternative possibilities that Indigenous viewpoints offer for understanding environmental management’s socio-political and placemaking effects (Descola 1994; De la Cadena 2015). This research has largely focused on Indigenous people and has yet to consider Afro-descendant communities’ modes of life explicitly. To address this, my project aims to understand Afro-descendant Candomblé practitioners’ relations with politically agentic Orixa spiritual beings (Hurston 1938) to understand how local climate change action and mitigation threatens their modes of life. My research takes place in São Bartolomeu Conservation Unit in Salvador, Brazil where the state is enacting a rainforest conservation plan to reduce climate change impacts. This plan has ushered Candomblé practitioners into negotiations with the state over how to conserve urban forests. By understanding practitioners’ experiences of state-led climate interventions, my research aims to illuminate the local effects of the conservation practices that climate action prompts. Over 16 months, I will conduct participant observation and semi-structured interviews to examine Candomblé rituals and the conservation activities that state representatives undertake in the unit. I will also conduct oral history interviews with elderly practitioners and analysis of state maps, environmental reports, and newspaper articles.