Gender, Catholicism, and Morality in Brazil: Virtuous Husbands, Powerful Wives

Overview

Through the ethnography of a Catholic community in Northeast Brazil, Maya Mayblin offers a vivid and provocative rethinking of gendered portrayals of Catholic life. For the residents of Santa Lucia, life is conceptualized as a series of moral tradeoffs between the sinful and productive world and an idealized state of innocence, conceived with reference to local Catholic teachings. As marriage marks the beginning of a productive life in the world, it also marks a phase in which moral personhood comes most ...

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Overview

Through the ethnography of a Catholic community in Northeast Brazil, Maya Mayblin offers a vivid and provocative rethinking of gendered portrayals of Catholic life. For the residents of Santa Lucia, life is conceptualized as a series of moral tradeoffs between the sinful and productive world and an idealized state of innocence, conceived with reference to local Catholic teachings. As marriage marks the beginning of a productive life in the world, it also marks a phase in which moral personhood comes most actively—and poignantly—to the fore. This book offers lucid observations on how men and women as husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, negotiate this challenge. As well as making an important contribution to the ethnographic literature on morality, Christianity, and Latin America, the book offers a compelling alternative to received portrayals of gender polarity as symbolically all-encompassing, throughout the Catholic world.

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Editorial Reviews

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"[A] rich account of married life among Catholics in a village community in Northeast Brazil . . . Anthropologists working with Catholicism, Latin America, and/or morality, in my opinion, cannot and would not want to bypass this book. Those interested in Christianity and gender more broadly should find it very enriching. Since it presents a number of complex analytical points in a very accessible writing style, it could also benefit students at all levels. Altogether, this is a very welcome contribution that does not limit itself to a narrow focus on religion, but through its broad ethnography reminds us that an anthropology of Christianity needs to take into account the many ways in which religiosity is enmeshed in, or even indistinguishable from, morality, gender, and human existence." - AnthroCyBib

"This theoretically sophisticated book is at the leading edge of a number of currently important anthropological discussions. It is, for example, one of the first and most finely argued studies of the role of morality in social life that we have. It is also one of the first studies of Catholicism to unfold in dialogue with contemporary work in the anthropology of Christianity, moving beyond former preoccupations with syncretism and folk religiosity to give us fully-realized portrait of Catholicism as lived religion. But even as one needs to read this book for the fresh, challenging ideas that are there on almost every page, its also true that Mayblin supports her claims with the kind rounded, pitch-perfect ethnography that makes one remember why one ever thought anthropology was a good way to address major human issues in the first place. This is a book people will be reading for a long time to come." - Joel Robbins, Professor and Chair of Anthropology, University of California, San Diego

"The village of Santa Lucia, tucked away in the northeast of Brazil, is brought to life in this wonderful ethnography. Mayblin's prose is pointed and poignant, and draws the reader in not only to the village but some of the most important theoretical discussions at the intersection between kinship and religion: on morality, on perfection and imperfection, and on how men and women relate. This book will appeal to a wide audience, and garner great respect." - Matthew Engelke, author of A Problem of Presence: Beyond Scripture in an African Church

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Maya Mayblin is Lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. Her articles have appeared in American Anthropologist, the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, and Ethnos,among others.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures ix

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction 1

1 The Land and the People 17

2 Marriage in Santa Lucia 41

3 The Bearing of Burdens: Suffering, Containment, and Healing 67

4 Working to Sweat: Labor, Narrative, and Redemption 95

5 Virtuous Husbands, Powerful Wives: Marriage and the Dangers of Power 121

6 From Innocence to Knowledge 147

Conclusion 177

Notes 183

Bibliography 193

Index 207

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