LAC Main Seminar Series: The matters with evangelical lives in Brazil: Ethnographic notes about race and religion in 21st century Brazil

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The deadline to register is 12 February at 12 noon


Conveners: Francesca Lessa, Maryhen Jimenez Morales and Andreza de Souza Santos

Speaker: Juliano Spyer, Behup, Brazil


juliano spyer

This paper is the outcome of 18 months living in a low-income neighborhood near Salvador, colonial Brazil’s original capital and home to over 700.000 Brazilians of African descent. The field work indicated that conversions to the evangelical Christian faith can be described as a strategy of survival given its impact on the lives of Brazil’s – mostly colored - poor population. The expression “Jesus saves” is literally true in this locality where – similar to other areas in Brazil – evangelicals are spared during shootouts between police and criminals by the visual effect of their sober dress code distinguishing them as “honest hardworking people”. Protestant Christianity impacts positively mostly black lives, resulting in actual social mobility. The paper details evidence of these claims and examines why middle and upper class educated Brazilians are open to debating race, but display shallow preconceived views of Pentecostalism, the most popular religion among Afro-Brazilians.

Juliano Spyer has a master's and doctorate in anthropology from University College, London. Povo de Deus - Quem são os evangélicos e por que eles importam [People of God - Who the evangelicals are and why they matter] is his third book and was published in Portuguese in October 2020. His doctorate examined the consequences and uses of social media for low-income Brazilians. He conducted field research in Brazil as part of the Why We Post project. His previous book Social Media in Emerging Brazil, published by UCL Press in 2017, can be downloaded in PDF format - Spyer is currently Head of Human Insights at Behup, a Brazilian startup.