Accepted Paper:

Making home in a foreign religion: Afro-Brazilian gods in Lisbon  


Clara Saraiva (FLUL, University of Lisbon)

Paper Short Abstract:

Quite a number of Portuguese, former Catholics, now follow the Afro-Brazilian religions and their sense of being “the family of the saint”. This paper will explore how they adapt and make this foreign, African based religion, their heartfelt “home”.

Paper long abstract:

Afro-Brazilian religions came to Portugal 30 years ago and have been growing ever since. Although the number of Brazilian migrants in Portugal is high, most of the followers of these recently arrived religions are Portuguese. Many of them are former Catholics who entered the realm of "alternative religiosity", stepping away from their former catholic beliefs and ritual practices, and trying new forms of spirituality. One of the things that attracts them most in the Afro-Brazilian religions is the freedom to contact the supernatural without the mediation of a priest, being able to enter trance and become possessed by the Afro-Brazilian gods. In their new lives, the temples become their "spiritual home", and the terminology used helps in conveying this feeling of a "family": the religious leader is the "father or mother of the saint" and the other fellow members become "brothers and sisters of the saint". This idea of a very close conviviality becomes a reality in the weekly gatherings, and in the sharing of both the ritual space as a "working space", both for religious purposes and for community life. Although this idea of comunitas is common to all religions I will explore how some Portuguese adapt and make this foreign, African based religion, their heartfelt "home".

Panel Reli02
Dwelling and creating within and across religious traditions (SIEF Ethnology of Religion Working Group Panel)