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Agata Bloch

Salvador da Bahia - Brazilian dialogue of coexistence in the colonial Brazil

In the colonial Brazil, Salvador became the center of the coexistence dialogue between the
European settlers and the persecuted African slaves, who deprived of their religious rights were
looking for the cultural way to survive, finally recognizing it in the syncretic practices. The result of
this syncretism is the africanization of the Europeans and the desafricanization of the black slaves.
The transfer of knowledge occurred by unconscious collaboration and conscious confrontation.

The starting point of my paper is the policy of the Catholic Church in colonial Brazil, whose role was
to convince the African slaves to adopt Christian values in order to combat the African roots. The
struggle of the Catholic Church covered all fields: political, social, cultural and religious. African slaves
were forced to participate in the civilizing mission led by white Europeans and their religious
institutions.

The paper tends to analyze the social changes and the process of creating a cultural and political
dialogue between the settlers and the slaves. First, Salvador da Bahia was a place of various conflicts
between the two different worlds. However, it should be noted that the values of both the
Europeans and the Africans had already been challenged by the reality they were confronted with.
The fruit of these agitations was the Candombl - a syncretic religion, mixture of European beliefs
with African traditions that in the socio-political field represented the resistance against the Catholic
colonization process. This syncretism preserved the African traditions, but also in a very discreet way,
it introduced African beliefs into the Catholic religion on the Brazilian soil.

In this paper I discuss the cross-cultural concepts of knowledge transfer through socialization and
acculturation while cohabiting on the same territory. The act of transferring the multicultural
understanding was followed by many decades of negotiations, confrontations and attempts at
communication. The key point would be the knowledge transfer and the knowledge sharing. The
paper not only discusses the main theories and the historical approaches related to the subject, but
also provides a wider perspective explaining various phenomena of knowledge transfer.

The sources I use in my paper consisted of primary unpublished sources, documents of Holy Office,
articles, published books of Pierre Verger and Roger Bastid and researches made by Brazilian
anthropologists who used to be the priests in Afro-Brazilian temples.

The magical world of Candombl became both a carrier and a bridge between two worlds where
folkloric beliefs and customs overlapped and coexisted. Brazil exemplifies how the transfer of
knowledge led to a creation of a new society. The mystic Candombl transformed Salvador da Bahia
into a unique place of intercultural understanding where the Africans became more European and
the Europeans more African.