Accepted Paper:

Franchising the spiritual: authenticity and performance in American Umbanda  
Erika Robb (University of Wisconsin, Madison)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the practice of Umbanda in the United States by examining the challenges of international expansion. I will highlight the tensions between cultural accommodation and issues of authenticity and performance which arise as a result of transplantation into a new national milieu.

Paper long abstract:

One of the consequences of globalization is that the Afro-Brazilian religious forms which have up until now been located only within the borders of Brazil are now migrating to new areas and attracting new participants. This paper explores the transnational movement of the Afro-Brazilian religion of Umbanda to the United States by examining several groups of practitioners in the US who are part of the same terreiro. Based on fieldwork in both Brazil and the United States, one part of my paper is more descriptive in nature and traces the contours of an emerging American Umbanda. Subsequent sections examine the challenges of deterritorialization and explore the issues of authenticity which arise as a result of transplantation into a new cultural milieu.

Panel W075
The internationalisation of African-American religions