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Accepted Paper:

New priests in town: on how the ocean is conquering the land in the Azores  

Author:

João Afonso Baptista (Universidade de Lisboa)

Paper short abstract:

Vulnerable to the ocean, Azorean populations have long been guided and assuaged by Catholicism. Yet now, the teachings of marine science are dethroning the teachings of Catholicism. I approach how the "scientific" ocean is disrupting the established social and political orders in the Azores.

Paper long abstract:

Catholic saints and priests have long aided the Azorean populations in understanding and accepting the risks of a life with the ocean. Uncertain, unpredictable and risky, the ocean cultivated religious faith in the Azorean land, and "divine protection" has been a major social means of safeguard. In the last decade, the unsteady ontology of the ocean has continued dictating the theological system in the Azores, but the main actors have changed. Along with the recent conversion of the surrounding ocean from a site of local (fishing, whaling) extraction to a site of global environmental sustainability came a new type of priest and, associated with that, a new type of social "protection." Marine scientists and their science dethroned the social and political influence that Catholic saints and priests previously monopolized in the Azores. And life with the ocean is no longer in the hands of the Catholic God but managed and predicted by the marine scientists who came to live on the islands. Drawing on my fieldwork in the Azorean island of Faial in 2018, I address the social and political repercussions of converting the ocean into a scientific object in the Azores.

Panel P050
Rising Sea Politics: Governance, Communities, Commons