Posts Tagged ‘Latin America’

July 12th, 2017

Fluid indigeneity: Indians, Catholicism, and Spanish law in the mutable Americas

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Stand With Standing Rock Nov 11-15 2016 | Image via Flickr user Leslie PetersonIn this forum, “indigeneity” faces off against European “settler colonialism.” If the twenty-first century mode of conceptualizing indigenous resistance to dominant forms of settler power is primarily construed via claims to the land’s sacrality and traditional ritual relationships to it, then the history of the “Indians” of the Spanish Americas appears strange indeed. This will be no surprise to scholars of the colonial Spanish Americas, whose history never fits a model that, implied or stated, is the history of British imperial expansion.

This essay all too briefly sketches a history of indigeneity in which Catholic actors made excellent use of the Spanish legal system to negotiate a cultural framework that was hierarchical yet ethnically fluid. Their experiences and strategies fall athwart the dominant narrative of racial “fixity” that is the hallmark of the very peculiar history of US race relations, a template whose export erases the heterogeneity of experiences across the hemisphere.

September 12th, 2014

Overlapping senses of salvation

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With a Guatemala’s history of social and political instability, the place of religion in public life is often fraught with tensions and ambiguities, especially with regard to the nature of morality. These issues tend to crop up when the practices of competing religious institutions exit the relatively circumscribed spaces of churches and enter into erstwhile public spaces. The following examples, drawn from my own fieldwork and that of two other ethnographers of Christianity in Guatemala, illustrate these tensions and suggest that greater attention to the sensory dimensions of public religiosity can shed light on the varying ways that religious actors imagine and engage with public spaces.

December 21st, 2013

A changing papacy?

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On December 11, Time Magazine named Pope Francis its 2013 “Person of the Year.” The award, according to Time, seeks to honor the person or group who, “for better or for worse,” has most influenced the events of that year.

May 10th, 2013

The Vatican Spring?

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Does the election of Francis I signal a major shift in Vatican policy, structure, or doctrine? How significant is Francis’ status as an “outsider” to the Roman Curia, especially his background as a Latin American and a Jesuit? Is this status likely to position him as an agent of change within the Church, or do his theological continuities with his predecessors and the entrenched Vatican bureaucracy guarantee that any reform he initiates will be largely cosmetic?

Read responses by Michele Dillon, John L. Esposito, Jeffrey Guhin, Cecelia Lynch, James Martin, S.J., J. Michelle Molina, and Sarah Shortall.

March 14th, 2013

Habemus Papam: Pope Francis Roundup

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On March 13, 2013, after five rounds of voting, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina was selected as pope, making him the 266th pope of the Roman Catholic Church, the first non-European pope in modern times, and the first from the Jesuit order. In this post, we round up a range of reactions to the selection of the new pope—both within the English-language press and across Latin America.

March 14th, 2013

Is Latin America losing its religion?

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Writing in the Christian Century, Philip Jenkins suggests that there are signs of an early stage European style “secularization” at work in parts of Latin America.

January 27th, 2012

Brazil’s religious right

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In the Guardian, Tom Phillips profiles Jean Wyllys, Brazil’s first openly gay MP—and explores the growing political voice of the country’s far-right evangelical leaders who oppose him.

August 25th, 2011

The Vatican and the Bolivarian revolution

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Last month, Wikileaks released a confidential 2005 U.S. embassy cable that provides an inside perspective on the Vatican’s views of Latin America’s leftward drift in recent years following the election of Hugo Chavez et al. The cable, entitled “Vatican Weary of Leftist Latinos,” summarizes the views of Cardinal Leonardo Sandri (then an archbishop) expressed in conversation with the American ambassador.

May 17th, 2010

Religions and rights: An interview with Richard Amesbury

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Though currently on sabbatical at the University of Zürich, Richard Amesbury teaches religious and philosophical ethics at the Claremont School of Theology, where he is is involved in establishing a new School of Ethics, Politics, and Society. He is the author of Morality and Social Criticism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005) and Faith and Human Rights (Fortress, 2008), as well as  numerous articles. His interests reach across many themes and fields in which the concept of “religion” is constructed and mobilized, from human rights law to civil religion to the New Atheism.

August 4th, 2008

Evangelicals and the relational self in Venezuela

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Anglophone scholars have long struggled to find a terminology with which to study non-Catholic Christianity in Latin America. We are used to studying Christianity in terms of Catholics versus Protestants, with “Evangelicals” being a subcategory of the latter. But Latin Americans tend to divide Christians into Catholics versus Evangelicals. To make matters worse, when scholars go to Latin America and start talking to those who call themselves Evangelical, they quickly realize that these are what would be called Pentecostals, as spirit baptism, faith healing and speaking in tongues all play a central role in their religious practice. […]