Issues in Brief

Issues in Brief No. 25, November 2012Pardee-IIB-025-Nov-2012

Religion, Social Movements, and Zones of Crisis in Latin America
By Jeffrey W. Rubin, David Smilde, and Benjamin Junge
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Based on the outcomes of a three-year project led by Boston University’s Institute on Culture, Religion, and World Affairs (CURA), this Issues in Brief explores the connections between religion and social movements in Latin America, especially in areas where efforts have been made to expand citizens’ rights and institute reforms to improve social justice. The authors use examples presented by collaborating scholars at the project’s conferences to show how religion is, in fact, an intrinsic part of everyday life and has played an important role in both revolutions and evolutions toward democracy in the region.  They argue that any assessment of where Latin America has been and where it is headed must understand and consider “the multiple roles played by religion as citizens fight for new rights and reshape democratic politics.”

Jeffrey W. Rubin is Associate Professor of History and Research Associate at the Institute on Culture, Religion, and World Affairs at Boston University. He is the author of Decentering the Regime (Duke 1997) and Sustaining Activism (Duke 2013), as well as books and articles on social movements, business responses to progressive reform, and Mexican and Brazilian politics.

David Smilde is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Georgia, Senior Fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America, and Editor-in-Chief of the journal Qualitative Sociology. He is co-editor of Religion on the Edge: Decentering and Recentering the Sociology of Religion (Oxford 2012).

Benjamin Junge is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the State University of New York-New Paltz.  He is a cultural anthropologist with theoretical specialization in the study of gender, social movements, citizenship, and participatory democracy. His research interests concern the relationship between gender and citizen identity within low-income, urban communities in contemporary Brazil.

Related podcasts taken from an event titled Religion, Social Movements, and Zones of Crisis in Latin America, “Seized by the Spirit: The Mystical Foundation of Squatting among Pentecostals in Caracas,” and “Everyday Politics in the Periphery of São Paulo: Catholic Church and Housing Movement Intertwined,” are also available on the Multimedia Page.