Abstract: Since the turn of the twenty-first century, the rapid growth of Peru’s extractive industries has unleashed diverse forms of political resistance to an economic system dependent on ecological destruction and human harm. In the central highlands of Peru, a Catholic scientific project based out of the Archdiocese of Huancayo undertook six years of research on heavy-metal contamination in the Mantaro Valley. This included lead-exposure studies in the notoriously polluted city of La Oroya, home to the country’s largest polymetallic smelter. How did the Catholic Church become an apt institution for the production of science in this region? Drawing on fieldwork with the Revive the Mantaro Project, this article conceptualizes the integration of religious and scientific practitioners and practices and the political landscape that necessitated, shaped, and limited them. Technocratic governance and anti-leftist sentiments made science a suitable political idiom for the Catholic Church to enact its ethos of abundance and demand the legitimacy of life beyond bare life. A state of endemic corruption and epistemic mistrust also obliged Catholic accompaniment to scientific practices to generate trust for the researchers and to provide ethical credibility as their knowledge entered the fray of national mining politics. Ultimately contending with entrenched systems of power, the Revive the Mantaro Project’s significance extended beyond political efficacy; its practices enacted a world of democracy, rights, and legal protections not yet of this world.
Abstract: The author discusses what she learned from her participation in evangelical fighting ministries, paying special attention to how these communities sought to connect with God through interacting with each other. In training with and interviewing the members of these ministries in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the author found that as evangelical Christians, many struggled to establish and maintain the primacy of their personal relationships with God over their interpersonal interests. Yet they also believed their relationships with God were meant to be witnessed and experienced by others. During moments of worship they shared emotional intimacy, granting each other opportunities to make outwardly perceivable their internally felt relationships with God. During their Brazilian jiu-jitsu training, they were encouraged to feel God’s presence as they grappled with each other at very close contact. Using the concept of compartmentalisation, the author analyses how these evangelical fighting ministries demarcated their practices into emotional and physical forms of intimacy, thereby finding different ways to achieve what they perceived as personal contact with God in their intense interactions with each other.
Abstract: This essay examines the Responsible Procreation campaign of Acción Cultural Popular (ACPO) within the context of “zones of crisis” characterized not only by the legacy of long-standing violence but by tensions experienced within the Catholic Church and Colombian society at large during the tumultuous decades of the 1960s and 1970s. ACPO centered its Responsible Procreation campaign on a radical critique of authoritarian and exclusionary gender relations that could only be remedied by guaranteeing women’s access to education and their participation as equals in household and community decision making. As a Catholic-affiliated organization, ACPO enjoyed legitimacy many secular organizations did not, enabling it to provide spaces where rural Colombians, especially women, could experiment with voice and agency and explore alternative visions of citizenship and community development without fear of reprisal or social ostracism. Christian social activism, the essay concludes, often laid the basis for the proliferation today of social movements spearheaded by rural women.
Abstract: For the first time since its inception, the Congregação Cristã no Brasil (CCB) has lost members – two hundred thousand members in the last decade – while other traditional Pentecostal churches’ membership continue to grow. Based on survey research data, this study explores the diverse views of church members and how institutional factors affect the growth of the church. Two opposing views among church members are identified: fundamentalism and progressivism. Besides providing empirical data, this work engages a wider debate on how the strict nature of the CCB leadership, based on a traditional authoritarian model, is unwilling to adapt to cultural and social changes, giving rise to discontent, tensions, and schisms.
Abstract: Mapuche oral shamanic biographies and performances—some of which take the form of “bibles” and involve shamanic literacies—play a central role in the production of indigenous history in southern Chile. In this article, I explain how and why a mixed-race Mapuche shaman charged me with writing about her life and practice in the form of such a “bible.” This book would become a ritual object and a means of storing her shamanic power by textualizing it, thereby allowing her to speak to a future audience. The realities and powers her “bible” stored could be extracted, transformed, circulated, and actualized for a variety of ends, even to bring about shamanic rebirth. Ultimately, I argue, through their use and interpretation of this kind of “bible,” Mapuche shamans expand academic notions of indigenous history and literacy.
Abstract: This article focuses on networks of South-American preachers, led by charismatic characters such as the Argentinean pastor Carlos Annacondia, who export themselves not only to countries within the Americas but also to Europe. The prevailing justification among Latin-American Evangelicals for undertaking this ‘reverse mission’ (Freston) is in the view that especially the ‘old’ Roman Catholic Europe is spiritually ‘cooled down’ and that the time is ripe for re-evangelizing it. This study analyzes the way in which network-based charismatic entrepreneurship has encouraged transnational imaginaries of re-conquering Europe spiritually, more specifically in terms of the meanings the members of these networks attribute to the ‘spiritual re-conquest’. I conclude by suggesting that, similar to flows from other regions in the global South, such as Africa, the much vaunted ‘reverse mission’ to Europe is vested with meanings that transcend the spiritual re-conquest as such. In the case of Latin America, this article argues, the chief motivation is symbolic: to strengthen the status of local churches and their leaders against the backdrop of a highly competitive religious market on the Latin-American sub-continent.
Abstract: This article explores historical and contemporary relationships between Pentecostalism and politics in Chile. The first part of the article provides an historical account of the growth and consolidation of Pentecostal religion within changing political environments and sheds light on Pentecostal stances to and involvements with the political sphere. In particular, it focuses on how a culture of political disenchantment has emerged in post- dictatorial neo-liberal Chile, creating a symbolic void that can be filled by religious movements. The second part of the article discusses possible affinities between Pentecostalism as a religious culture and democratic principles and values. It argues that although Pentecostalism may contain certain democratic qualities, there is also a striking compatibility between, on the one hand, Pentecostal theistic understandings of politics and social change, and, on the other, a neo-liberal social order, where political apathy is widespread and where a privatised rather than a communal and associative sense of progress predominates
Bacchiddu, Giovanna (2011) “Holding the Saint in One’s Arms: Miracles and Exchange in Apiao, Southern Chile.” In Dedele and Blanes, eds, Encounters of Body and Soul in Contemporary Religious Practices. Oxford, Berghahn Books.
Excerpt: An approach to the body divorced from the spheres of both the social and the spiritual is unthinkable in Apiao, Chiloé, like in the rest of native lowland South America. This essay endeavours to illustrate how the body, the spiritual and the social interact and mutually build each other in the devotion to a local Catholic saint. A little statue of a miraculous saint is the interlocutor in an articulate dialectical exchange; an individual with whom people engage and build meaningful social relationships.