Accepted paper:

Different aesthethics for different religions: the case of the Afro-Brazilian religions in Portugal

Authors:

Clara Saraiva (FLUL, University of Lisbon)

Paper short abstract:

Afro-Brazilian religions are expanding in Portugal. One of the factors that attracts the Portuguese is the aesthetics of such religions: the idea of incorporating an orixá and dress in the orixá´s beautiful clothes is something everyone longs for. How and why does this happen?

Paper long abstract:

The expansion of the afro-Brazilian cults (Umbanda and Candomblé) in Portugal in the last 20 years has been immense, and every six months a new temple opens up. Although Brazilians constitute the major group of immigrants in Portugal (ca. 25% of the total immigrant universe), it is the Portuguese that are attracted to these cults. The only Brazilians present are individuals with special ritual duties, such as the pai or mãe de santo, the heads of the temples. One of the factors that attracts the Portuguese is the aesthetics of such religions: the idea of incorporating an orixá and dress in the orixá´s beautiful clothes is something everyone longs for. The careful aesthetics of the ritual is complemented with a careful management of emotions, that individuals nevertheless feel are much more loose here than in the traditional Catholic rituals. How do these two ideals of a different aestheics and of a different emotional model interact in this new scenario of the expansion of the Afro-Brazilian religions in a previously Catholic country? This paper will expand on issues of transnationalism and religious migration, exploring also what is the meaning of aesthetics in different religious views.

panel P05
Aesthetics of conversion