Accepted Paper:

Idiosyncratic behaviours in urban mixed communities in Portugal: how some utopian religious understanding is partly achieved  


Maria Santa Montez (Universidade Lusófona)

Paper short abstract:

How do different religious and social communities interact in some modern urban environments in Portugal - how former resentment becomes utopic and the role of the new Observatory for Religious Freedom as an important link for a good understanding.

Paper long abstract:

The new Observatory for Religious Freedom has the mission to observe, study and support the initiatives of various religious traditions of different communities aiming at achieving a peaceful exchange among the people.

During the first public session of the Observatory, somebody asked the leader of the Islamic community in Lisbon if Portugal is a "paradise" as for the freedom of religion and the good understanding among different religious groups. It was stressed that although perfection is a utopia hard to achieve, the reality of the Portuguese society shows that it is not just tolerant but also open to other ways of worship.

This paper is based on a research conducted among some communities living in urban centers, with field work performed through interviews to local leaders and lay people - Christians, jews, hindus and muslims as well as to members of this new Observatory. Among those we studied the muslim "Fula " community from Guiné Bissau who came from this former Portuguese colony and settled in Portugal after the independence in 1974.

The Fula culture has rather homogeneous features : they share a common religion, Islam, a common language, the Pulaar and therefore a common culture, customs and habits. There is no conflict so far between this community and the surrounding Christian or the increasing atheistic environment.

The religiosity of these utopian communities is therefore the core subject of my research as well as the field work which I would like to share with those interested on this issue .

Panel Reli003
Almost heaven: vernacular utopias and the culture of belief