Paper short abstract:
Based on two ethnographic examples, this paper aims to explore the concepts of religion and spirituality, particularly the way this two categories differently affect the means through which women achieve power and construct new gender identities in the Portuguese society.
Paper long abstract:
This paper relies on a compared ethnography on the Gujarati Hindu diaspora in Portugal and on the Portuguese stream of the international movement of Indian origin Brahma Kumaris. This comparison allows an analysis of the key role played by women in the construction of gender identities.
Gujarati Hindu women in Portugal are ascribed new status through religion, as the perpetuators of what is perceived as traditional knowledge, seen as the depositories of traditional wisdom through spiritual and ritual experience that they have acquired over the years. Furthermore, they guarantee the upholding of a patriarchal ideology within transnational networks framed by a conservative ideology in the process of negotiation of cultural and religious belonging.
On the other hand, women who converted to the Brahma Kumaris movement in Portugal redefined their gender roles, challenging traditional social and familiar patterns of womanhood, and achieving new female identities based on power and agency.
Spirituality against religion: the role of gender and power