The Question of Bundanga

As the month of May draws to a close, I can happily say that I have already accomplished quite a bit, immersing myself ever further into the literature surrounding Afro-Caribbean religious traditions. This being said, new dilemmas continue to present themselves to me daily, the most prominent being that of bundanga. Bundanga is a term used within communities of Santería practitioners to allude to intimate knowledge that one might desire to receive without a commitment to the tradition, i.e. religious knowledge sans initiation. This, of course, would be the type of knowledge that many a distanced ethnographer would seek to obtain, oft times ignorant to their own blunder, making assumptions as to what may be considered appropriate for public consumption. I do not intend to count myself among them. This in mind, I am now thoroughly examining exactly what sorts of inquiries I would like to make of practitioners, as well as the manner in which I would like to phrase them. While careful planning was certainly already an aim of mine, the full recognition that anything I disclose in my writings is potentially sensitive is something I intend to be constantly vigilant about. I may not intentionally search for bundanga, but I can actively prevent its exposure.

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