Accepted Paper:

Afro-Brazilian religions, New Age and Catolicism: inter-religious crossroads at the westmostpoint of Europe   

Authors:

Clara Saraiva (FLUL, University of Lisbon)
Eugenia Roussou (CRIA, ISCTE-IUL)

Paper short abstract:

In present day Portugal Afro-Brazilian religions co-exist with New Age practices, shamanism and Catholicism, not always in a peaceful way. This paper discusses the adaptations and conflicts involved, and the existence (or the non-existence) of interreligious dialogue within Portuguese civil society.

Paper long abstract:

Afro-Brazilian religions have been exported to Portugal in the last twenty years and have become quite popular among the Portuguese. Umbanda is more expanded than Candomblé, since individuals think that they adept more easily to Umbanda , conceptualized as closer to the Portuguese Catholic religious matrix (Frijerio 2004). This allows followers to keep their catholic practices (such as attending mass on Sunday), which is something also widely accepted by the Afro-Brazilian religious leaders. At the same time, several of these leaders in the Lisbon area are also tarot card readers, reiki masters, feng-shui instructors, practice aromatherapy, etc.. Several of them add shamanism and Celtic practices (such as the Celtic feast of Samhain) to this. But the possibility and effectiveness of this religious potential dialogue also carries drawbacks. The area around the Sintra hills and Cabo da Roca (the westmost point of Europe) is considered by all these new religious tendencies as a magical zone, full of special energies and powers. Offers made to the diverse spiritual entities are often placed at the entrances of the Sintra natural park, causing disturbances, shocking the more conservative Catholics and triggering complaints to the national guard in charge of such ecological sanctuaries. Based on field work carried out in Portugal, this paper will discuss the transnational character of the importation of these religions, the adaptations and conflicts involved, and the existence (or the non-existence) of interreligious dialogue within Portuguese civil society.

Panel P130
Unity in diversity? Anthropological reflections on interreligious devotion and dialogue in Europe [Anthropology of Religion Network]