Transmitting the Spirit: Religious Conversion, Media, and Urban Violence in Brazil

Transmitting the Spirit: Religious Conversion, Media, and Urban Violence in Brazil

by Martijn Oosterbaan


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Pentecostalism is one of the most rapidly expanding religious-cultural forms in the world. Its rise in popularity is often attributed to its successfully incorporating native cosmologies in new religious frameworks. This volume probes for more complex explanations to this phenomenon in the favelas of Brazil, once one of the most Catholic nations in the world.

Based on a decade of ethnographic fieldwork in Rio de Janeiro and drawing from religious studies, anthropology of religion, and media theory, Transmitting the Spirit argues that the Pentecostal movement’s growth is due directly to its ability to connect politics, entertainment, and religion. Examining religious and secular media—music and magazines, political ads and telenovelas—Martijn Oosterbaan shows how Pentecostal leaders progressively appropriate and recategorize cultural forms according to the religion’s cosmologies. His analysis of the interrelationship among evangélicos distributing doctrine, devotees’ reception and interpretation of nonreligious messaging, perceptions of the self and others by favela dwellers, and the slums of urban Brazil as an entity reveals Pentecostalism’s remarkable capacity to engage with the media influences that shape daily life in economically vulnerable urban areas.

An eye-opening look at Pentecostalism, media, society, and culture in the turbulent favelas of Brazil, this book sheds new light on both the evolving role of religion in Latin America and the proliferation of religious ideas and practices in the postmodern world.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780271078441
Publisher: Penn State University Press
Publication date: 06/07/2019
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 264
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.73(d)

About the Author

Martijn Oosterbaan is Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Utrecht University.

Table of Contents




1 The Manichean City: Socio-Spatial Segregation and Pentecostalism

2 Sonic Struggles: Sound, Religion, and Space in the Favelas

3 Mass Mediating Spiritual Battles: Pentecostalism and the Daily News

4 “Deliver This Favela”: Space, Violence, and Hypermediated Conversion

5 Spiritual Attunement: Pentecostalism and Listening

6 “Written by the Devil”: Suspicious Television





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