Calundu was an African-derived religious practice known in colonial Brazil, most widely recognized in Minas Gerais during and following that region’s early eighteenth-century gold rush. Drumming, chant, and dance channeled healing and divinational powers brought about primarily through trance possession. Severely disrupted by Church intervention, descriptions of calundu found in Portuguese Inquisition testimony join the published observations by European travelers as windows into the social history of Minas Gerais, an important yet often overlooked cultural territory of Brazil. This region of gold, diamonds, and coffee formed one of the most intense, highly populated slave operations known in the Western Hemisphere. Calundu’s practitioners, its musical worlds and social spaces, promote the parallelism argument that contrasts theories of syncretism and creolization. Calundu’s fatal narrative as an independent system of thought paralleling Catholicism forms a chapter in the African Diaspora’s vital history.

Author Biography

Jonathon Grasse is a professor of music at California State University, Dominguez Hills, and has authored articles, reviews, and book chapters on issues of Brazilian music and the influence of Indonesian gamelan on American composer Lou Harrison. His current book project focuses on music and regional identity in Minas Gerais, Brazil, several topics from which have formed conference presentations for the Society for Ethnomusicology. He is a composer and improvising musician active in Los Angeles.

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