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Accepted paper:

“Matter out of place”: Heritage, tourism and “good” versus “bad” in Portugal


Clara Saraiva (FLUL, University of Lisbon)

Paper short abstract:

In contemporary Portugal various religious traditions and heritages co-exist. This paper discusses the adaptations and conflicts involved, and the existence (or non-existence) of interreligious dialogue within Portuguese society.

Paper long abstract:

Portuguese religious field changed immensely over the past 30 years, with the entrance into the EU and the flows of migrants. In a country with a strong Catholic tradition, this has important repercussions—we now have a religious variety that encompasses Islam, evangelicals, neo-shamans, neo-druids, pagans, Afro-Brazilians and many other religious groups. Attitudes of the Portuguese towards this religious variety differ. Albeit the existence of a Comission for Religious Equality, the Portuguese state tends to classify as religious heritage the Christian one, disregarding other ones. The most visible “bad” religious materiality is directly related to the Afro-Brazilian religions, as they are the ones leaving offerings for the orixás (deities) in public spaces. The Sintra region, close to Lisbon, is considered by all the mentioned new religious tendencies as a magical zone, full of special energies and powers. This area is classified by UNESCO as World heritage, a “Cultural landscape area”, packed with tourists that visit the monumental sites but also explore the magic of the Sintra hills and the Cabo da Roca (the westmost point of Europe). Offers made to the diverse spiritual entities are often placed at the entrances of the Sintra natural park, causing disturbances, shocking the more conservative Portuguese Catholics, but also tourists, 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 existence (or non-existence) of interreligious dialogue within Portuguese civil society, as well as the adaptations and conflicts involved.

panel P181
Religion, (im)mobilities and citizenship in the face of populism