Images from the Field

a Gallery of photos captured in our places of research

-- About

-- About --

CURRENTS OF FAITH, PLACES OF HISTORY

Religious Diasporas, connections, moral circumscriptions and world-making in the Atlantic space
CURRENTS OF FAITH, PLACES OF HISTORY IS AN INTERNATIONAL JOINT RESEARCH PROJECT FUNDED BY THE HUMANITIES IN THE EUROPEAN RESEARCH AREA (HERA) CONSORTIUM, DEVELOPED BETWEEN 2013 AND 2016. IT BRINGS TOGETHER A MULTIDISCIPLINARY TEAM OF SCHOLARS THAT SHARE A CONCERN FOR RELIGION, MOBILITY, PLACE AND HERITAGE IN THE ATLANTIC SPACE. OUR GOAL IS TO CREATIVELY RETHINK THEORIES OF ATLANTIC HISTORY FOCUSING ON ‘RELIGIOUS DIASPORAS’ AND EXPLORING THREE MAIN CONCEPTUALIZATIONS: IDEAS OF ‘CONNECTIONS’, ‘MORAL CIRCUMSCRIPTIONS’ AND ‘WORLD- MAKING’. THROUGH A PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN INSTITUTIONS IN PORTUGAL, BELGIUM, NETHERLANDS AND THE UK, WE CONGREGATE A TEAM OF SENIOR AND JUNIOR SCHOLARS THAT WILL DEVELOP A NETWORK OF RESEARCH THEMES ACROSS THE ATLANTIC SPACE COMBINING PROBLEMS AND METHODOLOGIES SPRUNG FROM SOCIAL ANTHROPOLOGY, HISTORY AND RELIGIOUS STUDIES. WE ENGAGE IN AN INTERDISCIPLINARY FOCUS BY WHICH WE SYNTHESIZE AN EMPIRICAL ETHNOGRAPHIC METHODOLOGY WITH A HISTORICIST APPROACH, EXPLORING ‘MEANINGFUL HISTORIES’ IN THEIR CULTURAL AND RELIGIOUS MANIFESTATIONS. WE CHART HISTORICAL DIRECTIONALITIES BETWEEN EUROPE, AFRICA, NORTH AND SOUTH AMERICA AND DISTINGUISH CONTEMPORARY LOGICS OF PRESENCE, BY WHICH CERTAIN TERRITORIES BECOME SOCIALLY AND POLITICALLY MEANINGFUL, ‘HERITAGIZED’. WE ALSO QUESTION POLITICS OF IDENTITY AND HERITAGE, MOBILITY AND MEMORY, AND EUROPE'S PLACE IN THE ATLANTIC. SEE FULL DESCRIPTION HERE
Project Leader (Principal Investigator 1): 
Ruy Llera Blanes  (Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lisbon, Portugal / Department of Social Anthropology - University of Bergen, Norway)
Principal Investigators: 
Birgit Meyer (Utrecht University, Netherlands) ;
David Berliner (Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium);
Ramon Sarró (University of Oxford, UK).
MEET OUR TEAM HERE 
 



-- Sub-Projects

-- Sub-Projects --

1)      PORTUGAL (Institute of Social Sciences University of Lisbon): 

Researchers: Ruy Llera Blanes (PL, PI, ICSUL, Bergen), Diana Espírito Santo (CRIA-UNL); Carmen González (PhD, ICSUL).

 

This team proposes to research transatlantic religious histories and their imprint in contemporary manifestations, in Africa, South America and the Caribbean. We will focus specifically in the development of individual and collective trajectories which reverberate into moralizing configurations of the land. We will address the core themes transversally, in the following manner:
1) Connections: we will ask how the Atlantic operates as a hub and connector (rather than just a scenery) in contemporary religious creativities, exploring the notions of mobility, encounter and recognition operated within: i.e., renewed meanings of ’Kongo-ness’ in Cuba, the extra-territorialization of African prophetism into Europe, or the ‘migration’ of Holy Cities from the Middle East into South America.
2) Moral circumscriptions: we will question the political and ideological bindings that identify sacred landscapes, as well as the personal and collective (prophetic, spiritual) biographies upon which they are construed; we will discuss ideologies of belonging and their relations to sites and territories through the intersection of processes of mobility and heritagization.
3) World-making: we will explore how the above mentioned processes of connection and circumscription converge into osmologies that creatively define understandings of the world in its past and present conditions.
Ruy Blanes will study Prophetic trajectories and grassroots heritagizations of the landscape in Angola and the Atlantic. Using the case of the Angolan Tokoist Church, he will explore how autochthon ‘prophetic biographies’ have produced particular territorial inscriptions (in Angola and Portugal) within world-making processes that have in turn offered a rewriting of Angolan late colonial and postcolonial politico-religious history. Conducting fieldwork in three particular sites of this religious movement and its founding prophet’s (Simão Toko) trajectory – a former forced labor camp in the Loge valley in Uíge; the colonial political prison of São Nicolau; and the Island of São Miguel (Azores, Portugal) –, his goal is to assess how, through such histories of (involuntary, imposed) human displacement, certain sites have become ‘historically abundant’, spiritualized and heritagized within specific moral circumscriptions. He will insert this research within a wider debate concerning post-colonial Angolan and Southern African politics, and the plural and competing heritagizations occurring in Africa. He will also explore the relationship between religious and political conceptions of sovereignty and jurisdiction, and their permutations.
Diana Espírito Santo (CRIA-UNL) will work on Biographical intersections, moral landscapes and the recycling of history in contemporary Afro-Cuban cults. Contemporary Afro-Cuban spirit possession cults turn on axes that simultaneously historicize the ontogeny of individual religious selves and make sense of moral and political otherness through a mobilization of discourses pertaining to spiritual geographies widely shared by a web of ritually interconnected spheres of practice. Her research will explore ‘connections’, and take the two dominant ritual traditions of worshipping and manipulating the dead in Havana – European-inspired Creole espiritismo and Bantu-Congo palo monte – and examine the articulation of these two aspects with regards to the emergence of novel cultural forms and their corresponding imaginaries. While encounters with African, Indigenous and European spirits dominate local modes of spiritual engagement, a host of metaphysical entities from 1940s Casino owners and prostitutes, and early Communist Party members, to post-Soviet 1990s speculators consumed by Cuba’s radical moral and economic shifts, have joined spiritual pantheons once reserved for the classic denizens of the country’s labor, and its colonial and neo-colonial past. At stake in an investigation of the appearance of these new regimes of spiritual knowledge and the existential possibilities they afford is the question of how Cuba’s recent history is recycled and recreated within the discovery of transatlantic encounters and connections, and what moral topographies result thereof – national, Atlantic and otherwise.
The PhD student will research the Transatlantic Jerusalems: grassroots prophetism, alternative politics and making the land in contemporary Peru. He/she will focus on the Israelitas Community, a prophetic movement founded by Ezequiel Gamonal, who engaged in counter-hegemonic politics, combatting the Sendero Luminoso and promoting ‘back to the land’ agricultural initiatives, through the creation of ‘New Jerusalem’ compounds in the rural and jungle areas. The project will explore how such politico-religious movements engage in Christian transatlantic categories of temporality (messianism, millennialism) and place (‘Jerusalem’), and negotiate their particular position within the Peruvian socio-political landscape, promoting alternative heritagizations and sacralizations of the land. Key questions will be the moral circumscriptions and ideological transatlantic connections that emerge within the New Jerusalems of the Israelites.

Encounters, historical acknowledgements and moral landscapes across the Atlantic

2)      NETHERLANDS (Utrecht University):

Researchers: Birgit Meyer (PI; UU); Michel Doortmont (Groningen Universiteit); Mattijs van de Port (University of Amsterdam); Markus Balkenhol (UU); João Rickli (UFPR – Federal University of Paraná); Bruno Reinhardt (UU).
In a world believed to be post-secular, there is an urgent need to better understand religious continuities. This project focuses on practitioners of Afro-Surinamese Winti and Afro-Brazilian Candomblé and their spirits. We examine:
1) Dis/connections, the complex long-term historical processes and disruptive events including the slave trade, colonialism, missionary activities, a changing world economy, and modernisation. How do these dis/connections inform present circulations and boundaries among and between these historically emerging religious diasporas?
2) Moral circumscriptions, the new trans-Atlantic networks, which not only reconfigure the relations between people in Europe, Africa and the New World, but also those between the many spirits that can be found in this realm – both religious (orixás, winti, the Holy Spirit), as well as the ‘spirits’ of entrepreneurship and neo-liberal capitalism. How do these spirits as manifestations of moral stances help create the Atlantic World as a moral geography? How do the heritage industries of Brazil, Suriname, the Netherlands, and West Africa transform religious traditions into cultural heritage, and cultural heritage into commodities? What (moral) conflicts arise in this process?
3) World-making: Next to Christian movements, the movements and settlements of Candomblé and Winti continue to accompany the formation of the Atlantic World, not only as physical locale and political-economic ensemble, but also as a moral geography. We will understand these religions as modes of place-making that can produce attachments to specific places.
Mattijs van de Port, expert in the field, will look at Candomblé in Bahia, Brazil. The current denomination of Candomblé as the cultural trademark of Baianidade increasingly blurs the boundaries between religion, cultural heritage and marketplace. The struggle for livelihood obliges pentecostals in Bahia to sell Candomblé products on the tourist market; Candomblé priests become entrepreneurs at cultural festivals; and Bahian migrants in Europe find themselves framed and addressed as experts in occult practices. How do these people negotiate religious identifications and the moral stances these promote? Mattijs van de Port will follow a number of concrete Candomblé items as they move through trans-Atlantic networks and will analyse processes of signification in the various moral contexts in which they appear.
Markus Balkenhol, drawing on his expertise in this field, will look at the Afro-Surinamese Winti religion in Amsterdam Zuidoost. He will examine the bustling trade in religious objects by an increasing number of self-employed religious entrepreneurs in the Netherlands. How do these entrepreneurs incite the circulation of people, objects, and moral ideas between Suriname, the Netherlands, and West Africa, and how do they situate their businesses in the dynamic heritage discourses in the Atlantic world? How do they relate to the burgeoning presence of (West-African) Pentecostal churches in Amsterdam Zuidoost?
Complementing these more anthropological approaches, Michel Doortmont and João Rickli will take an historical perspective. Doortmont will analyse the case of Afro-Brazilians moving (back) to West Africa in the nineteenth century. He will examine the encounters and contestations between people and spirits as product of this migration and in relation to long-term and globalised historical processes and disruptive events like the Atlantic slave trade, colonialism, missionary activities, and a changing world economy. Rickli, drawing on his expertise on Dutch Protestant missionaries, will address religious dis/connections promoted by Dutch colonial interventions in the Atlantic space in the seventeenth century. What kind of moral geography is produced by Dutch Reformed missionaries, slave traders, colonial officers, etc? How does it influence the historical conformation of the Atlantic world? What kind of heritage discourses are mobilised around the Dutch presence and rule over North-East Brazil?
Taken together, these projects will provide an understanding of how the Atlantic world, as contested moral geography, spiritual place, and economic ensemble, is being made and re-made through the interplay of religious and entrepreneurial Atlantic spirits. Birgit Meyer will direct the project and develop a larger theoretical framework, based on the outcomes of the case studies and her own expertise regarding religion and heritage in West Africa. Next to developing a historical and ethnographic case study of tensions and blurrings between heritage and pentecostal religion in Ghana, she will produce a theoretical work on politics and aesthetics of religious world-making.

Atlantic spirits. Religion, heritage, and the making of the Atlantic World through Winti and Candomblé.

3)      BELGIUM (Université Libre de Bruxelles):

Researchers: David Berliner (PI; ULB); Roos Dorsman (ULB).
In this subproject, we intend to analyse the chain of “heritagization” around the Transatlantic Slave Trade between Guinea-Conakry, the United States and UNESCO-Paris. The Slave Route Project was launched by UNESCO in 1993 to identify and restore sites associated to the memory of the slave trade in West Africa and the Mexican Gulf. We are particularly interested in the conceptual axes of connections and moral circumscriptions, which will help us understand how historical processes of mobility and encounter such as the history of transatlantic slave-trade are now remembered and rendered politically and socio-economically active in different geographical areas, through exercises of location and heritage-making. We will compare how they become ‘present’ in current religious and cultural configurations that offer specific conceptualizations of the past.
In Guinea, which hosts a great part of this Route, such a recognition has fostered research by local historians, but it has also contributed to the development of a slaveryoriented tourism of memory with Afro-Americans from the US visiting the coast in search of their traumatic roots. In this project, David Berliner (PI) is interested in developing such questions: Which are the multiple actors (from Parisian experts, Afro-American organizations in the US to Guinean institutions and religious movements) participating in the process of turning a cultural and historical item into a labeled UNESCO heritage site or element? How is the transposition of international programs into national and local heritage accomplished? What are the international, national and local mediations which render such UNESCOization possible or not? In particular, he will focus on the impact that the implementation of the Slave Route Project program had on the local representations of slavery heritage in contemporary Guinean society where this question remains a complex issue. He will examine the (religious, moral, political) connections that bind such representations, and questions how such routes have been based on processes of inclusive/exclusive moral circumscriptions vis-à-vis the sites and landscapes involved.
The same concern occupies the PhD student’s research. He/she will look at the reception of such movements on the ‘other side’ of the Atlantic slave trade, exploring the narrative, ideological and theological connections produced in this scenery, understood primarily as a space of (forced) mobility and encounter. Namely, on the development of contemporary heritagized ‘voodou’ traditions in New Orleans, Louisiana, and how they have become a marker within wider processes of formation of historical consciousnesses and ‘religious ethnification’ within the local histories of forced mobility, thus producing specific logics of circumscription. From this perspective, combining ethnographic and historical methodologies, he/she will study the historical emergence of ‘Louisiana voodoo’, and explore how it has been inserted within wider historiographical reconfigurations regarding Atlantic slavery, race and ethnic identity in the Caribbean/North American continuum.
He/she will thus explore histories and memories of slavery as forms of encounter and worldmaking that reverberate in contemporary identitary (ethnic or racial) agencies.

Slave Trade Transatlantic Heritagescapes. Reconnections and World- Making in Guinea-Conakry and the Mexican Gulf

4)      UK (University of Oxford):

Researchers: Ramon Sarró (PI, UO); Katerina Chatzikidi (UO).
In this project, the UK team will study processes of memory, heritage and place-making linked to notions of “Kongo Kingdom” on both sides of the Atlantic. Two field sites, with independent research in each of them, have been identified: one in Angola and one in Brazil, where practices linked to the “King of Kongo” are being revitalized and valued as national heritage. Following up ethnographic research conducted in 2007 and 2008 in Angola and in 2010, 2011 and 2012 in the Lower Congo Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sarró (PI) will undertake an ethnographic study of technologies of memory and of heritage linked to the Kingdom of Kongo, particularly around the town of Mbanza Kongo. Mbanza Kongo was the capital of the Kingdom of Kongo, which overlapped between Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Congo Brazzaville. For many inhabitants of the Democratic Republic of Congo and of Congo Brazzaville, Mbanza Kongo represents their mystical capital, their “deep roots”, even if is an Angolan town. The fact that Mbanza Kongo has now attained the status of World Heritage Centre by the UNESCO makes the “Agolaness vs Kongo-ness” of the place (see Sarró, Blanes and Viegas 2007) increasingly tense. Furthermore, the presence of several Bakongo prophetic movements (Kimbanguism being the most important of them) in this village creates a religious atmosphere in which the historical Kongo kingdom and apocalyptic idioms about the Kindgom of God merge, in open conflict with bureaucratic nation-and-boundaries logics. Mbanza Kongo, once the capital of one of the most powerful agent in the making of the Southern Atlantic, may indeed be a paradigmatic case to ethnographically document the difficult encounter between the physicality and ‘today-ness’ of a place and the competing heterotopic meanings and ‘pastness’ different actors, motivated by different understanding of sacred place, attribute to it. He will thus look at Mbanza Congo as a place of ‘moral circumscription’, where several ideologies, expectations and agencies compete.
On the other shore of the Atlantic, a PhD project (let us call it “Kongo in Brazil”) will focus on how “Kongo” is interpreted and re-semantized in Brazil today, looking ethnographically at religious practices that (claim to) have a “Kongo” ancestry and/or at
religious or festive performances now following the route towards heritagization (namely, the Congadas in the province of Minas Gerais, often invoked as one of the most precious tokens of African heritage in Brazil). The student will also look at connections/disconnections that their practitioners make with the historically distant Kongo and with the geographically closer Angola. Given that a) Brazil is expressing a strong official determination to unveil and acknowledge its African roots and that b) connections between Brazil and Angola are very strong (historically and currently), this research, conducted along the epistemological lines of CURRENTS (moral landscapes and circumscriptions, re-territorialization, heritage in the Atlantic) will help understand the making of the ‘Black Atlantic’ from a Brazilian/Kongolese point of view and establish a dialogue not only with the twin project in Mbanza Kongo, but also with the other subprojects in CURRENTS.
Through the collaborative actions proposed (see parts A4 and B), the knowledge produced in each of these subprojects will be subject to a collective debate, organized around the three main themes explored (moral circumscriptions, connections, world-making). It will also be oriented towards the exchange with other agents and stakeholders, designed to promote public impact around the multiple and ongoing religious and cultural heritagizations that emerge in the Atlantic space.

A King in the Atlantic: Centripetal and Centrifugal forces in the Making of a Kongo Heritage

-- Team

-- Team --

_RUY_BLANES_Post-Background_image

(PROPHETIC TRAJECTORIES AND GRASSROOTS HERITAGIZATIONS OF THE LANDSCAPE IN ANGOLA AND THE ATLANTIC)

I AM A SPANISH ANTHROPOLOGIST, CURRENTLY WORKING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF BERGEN (UIB) AS A POSTDOCTORAL RESEARCHER, AND AS ASSOCIATED RESEARCHER AT THE INSTITUTE OF SOCIAL SCIENCES OF THE UNIVERSITY OF LISBON (ICS-UL), WHERE I RECEIVED MY PHD (2007).
MY CURRENT RESEARCH SITE IS ANGOLA, WHERE I HAVE BEEN CONDUCTING ETHNOGRAPHIC STUDIES ON RELIGION, MOBILITY (DIASPORAS, TRANSNATIONALISM, THE ATLANTIC), POLITICS (LEADERSHIP, CHARISMA, REPRESSION, RESISTANCE), TEMPORALITIES (HISTORICITY, MEMORY, HERITAGE, EXPECTATIONS), KNOWLEDGE AND GENDER.
I AM ALSO  CO-EDITOR OF THE JOURNAL ADVANCES IN RESEARCH: RELIGION AND SOCIETY, PUBLISHED BY BERGHAHN.
Introducing Ruy Blanes

_BIRGIT_MEYER_Post-Background_image

(ATLANTIC SPIRITS. RELIGION, HERITAGE, AND THE MAKING OF THE ATLANTIC WORLD THROUGH WINTI AND CANDOMBLÉ.)

Utrecht University, Netherlands
Trained as a cultural anthropologist and working on lived religion in Ghana for more than 20 years, Birgit Meyer studies religion from a global and post-secular perspective. Her research is driven by an urge to make sense of the shifting place and role of religion in our time, and to show that scholarly work in the field of religion is of eminent concern to understanding the shape of our world in the early 21st century. In so doing, she seeks to synthesize grounded fieldwork and theoretical reflection in a broad multidisciplinary setting.Her main research foci are the rise and popularity of global Pentecostalism; religion, popular culture and heritage; religion and media; religion and the public sphere; religious visual culture, the senses and aesthetics.
Introducing Birgit Meyer

_DAVID_BERLINER_Post-Background_image

(SLAVE TRADE TRANSATLANTIC HERITAGESCAPES. RECONNECTIONS AND WORLD- MAKING IN GUINEA-CONAKRY AND THE MEXICAN GULF)

Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium

Dr. in Anthropology and Associate Professor (ULB) and editor of Social Anthropology/Anthropologie Sociale (http://www.easaonline.org/journal.htm)
Following an appointment at the Central European University (Budapest), I became an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the Free University of Brussels. I earned a PhD in Social and Cultural Anthropology from The Free University of Brussels in 2002. Before that, I had been a doctoral visiting student at the Universities of Manchester and Oxford in the UK. In 2001-2003, I was a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University. Geographically, my main area of experience and expertise are Guinea-Conakry and Laos. My theoretical expertise focuses mostly on the anthropology of religion, the anthropology of material culture and cultural heritage, the anthropology of memory and transmission, as also on the study of gender and sexuality. I cherish the idea of an anthropology that is capable of accounting for the ways individuals “arrive at” cultural concepts, representations, practices and emotions. This implies a strong intellectual commitment to issues of learning, transmission, and socialization; this endeavour allows me to forge fruitful interdisciplinary connections–for instance with cognitive psychology, the neurosciences, and linguistics. Some of my articles have been published in American Ethnologist, JRAI, Terrain, L’Homme, Cahiers d’Études Africaines, RES anthropology and aesthetics and Anthropological Quarterly. I have co-edited (with Ramon Sarro) a collection of essays, Learning Religion: Anthropological Approaches (2007), as well as a special edition of the Journal Men and Masculinities, namely a volume on male anthropologists doing feminist anthropology (2008). Pursuant to my research about memory, loss and transmission, in 2007 I started a new ethnographical fieldwork in Laos titled “UNESCO and the politics of transmission in Luang Prabang”.

Introducing David Berliner

_RAMON_SARRÓ_Post-Background_image

(A KING IN THE ATLANTIC: CENTRIPETAL AND CENTRIFUGAL FORCES IN THE MAKING OF A KONGO HERITAGE)

University of Oxford
Ramon Sarró is a University Lecturer in the Social Anthropology of Africa. Before joining ISCA he has been a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Social Sciences, University of Lisbon (2002-2012). He studied philosophy in Barcelona and social anthropology in the UK, completing his PhD on iconoclasm, politics and religion among Baga (Republic of Guinea) at University College London (1999), under the supervision of Philip Burnham and Barrie Sharpe. Between 2000 and 2002, he held the Ioma Evans-Pritchard Junior Research Fellowship at Saint Anne’s College (Oxford).
At present he is researching into the interface between prophecy, art and the ‘invention of writing’ in Central and West Africa.
Introducing Ramon Sarró

_Roos-Dorsman_Post-Background_image

PHD RESEARCHER

UNIVERSITÉ LIBRE DE BRUXELLES, BELGIUM
I am a Dutch cultural anthropologist doing my PhD at the Free University of Brussels under supervision of prof. David Berliner. At the moment I am living in New Orleans, Louisiana, where I am affiliated with Tulane University.
Within the Currents project I am conducting fieldwork on the social arena of contemporary voodoo in New Orleans, thereby focusing on “voodoo heritagization”, Atlantic slave histories, African American cultures and heritage politics.
My previous fieldwork was situated in the Netherlands and Suriname and my main research interests include: migration, identity, home& belonging, Diaspora, memory studies, cultural heritage and religion.
Introducing Roos Dorsman

_Carmen-González-_Post-Background_image

PHD RESEARCHER

Institute of Social Sciences, Lisbon, Portugal
I am a Spanish anthropologist. Last year I completed my MA in Anthropology at the University of Seville and my research themes were: history, social memory, violence, death, mourning through time and religions.
Currently I am a PhD student at the Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lisbon within the CURRENTS project under the supervision of Dr. Ruy Blanes and Prof. Susana Matos Viegas. We will work within the project “Encounters, historical acknowledgements and moral landscapes across the Atlantic”. I will conduct my research on “grassroots prophetism, political interventions and territorial heritagizations in contemporary South America”, with a specific focus on the Israelitas Community in Peru (AEMINPU), a prophetic movement founded by Ezequiel Gamonal, who engaged in counter-hegemonic politics, combatting Sendero Luminoso and promoting ‘back to the land’ agricultural initiatives, through the creation of ‘New Jerusalem’ compounds in the rural and jungle areas. Through this project we explore how such politic-religious movements engage in Christian transatlantic categories of temporality (messianism, millennialism) and place (‘Jerusalem’), and negotiate their particular position within the Peruvian socio-political landscape, promoting alternative heritagizations and sacralizations of the land.
Introducing Carmen González

_Aikatirini-Chatzikidi_Post-Background_image

PHD RESEARCHER

University of Oxford


My research within the CURRENTS project will be focusing on the African Heritage in Brazil, where my research site will be. Under the supervision of Dr. Sarró (PI, Oxford) who will be conducting reseach work in Angola, we will work toward the project ‘A King in the Atlantic: centripetal and centrifugal forces in the making of a Kongo heritage’. I will be looking at the manifold articulations of Central African elements in Brazilian cultural, religious and political life, trying to explore the ways in which memories of the ‘King of Kongo’ and notions of African culture have been constructed and construed, remembered and manifested in contemporary Brazil.
I have completed my graduate studies in Social Anthropology at the University of Oxford and my research interests mainly revolve around the realms of history and anthropology, Lowland South America, indigenous peoples, memory and everyday practice, death and society, cultural heritage.
Introducing Katerina Chatzikidi

_Markus-Balhenhol_Post-Background_image

POSTDOC RESEARCHER

Utrecht University

I am a social anthropologist working in and on the Netherlands. My research seeks to understand postcoloniality, that is a social and cultural condition of the present that is haunted by the colonial past. My focus has been mainly on the traces of colonialism in present Dutch society, as well as on matters of race, cultural heritage, and belonging. Recently my research interest has come to include religion and the postsecular, which I approach from a postcolonial angle.
My main research interests include memory studies, post-colonialism, race, the body, aesthetics, authenticity, cultural heritage, the Caribbean, and diaspora.
For currents of faith, I will research the increasing interest in Afro-Surinamese Winti religion in the Netherlands, and look at the ways in which this religion forms a sense of community.
Introducing Markus Balkenhol


_Bruno-Reinhardt_Post-Background_image

POSTDOC RESEARCHER

Utrecht University

Bruno Reinhardt holds a B.A. in Social Sciences from the Federal university of Minas Gerais, Brazil, a M.A. in Anthropology from the University of Brasília, Brazil, and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley, USA. He is a now a postdoctoral research fellow in the department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Utrecht University.
His previous projects included an ethnography of public controversies between adepts of Candomblé (Afro-Brazilian religion) and Pentecostal Christians in his native city of Salvador, Bahia, and an ethnography of Pentecostal pedagogy in Ghana, centered on the methods and relations used to transmit Pentecostal spirituality authoritatively both in the everyday of converts and within Bible schools, where neophyte pastors are trained by specific denominations.
Based on David Scott’s definition of the Black Atlantic tradition as an “embodied argument”, his Currents project deals comparatively with the cultivation of African ancestry among black movement activists affiliated to Candomblé and to Pentecostalism in Salvador, Bahia. Is the Holy Spirit an “Atlantic spirit”? Can Pentecostalism transcend the colorblind universalism and the opposition to African religious traditions often correctly attributed to it by scholars? How is the notion of tolerance and intolerance played out in Salvador’s increasingly politicized and judicialized religious field? How the “idea of Africa” (Mudimbe) circulates between and is materialized by these two religious traditions as they relate to an expanding state apparatus based on the “politics of recognition”? Those are some of the guiding questions of my inquiry.
Introducing Bruno Reinhardt

 

_Michel-Doortmont_Post-Background_image2

RESEARCHER

University of Groningen
(Afro-Brazilian ‘remigration’ to West Africa reconsidered: negotiating historiography between economics, politics, heritage, and religion, 1830s-present)
Michel Doortmont trained as an historian and Africanist in Rotterdam, Leiden, and Birmingham (UK). He did his PhD research on the historiography of the Yoruba of Nigeria, especially the transformation of oral traditions and oral histories into written forms in the 19th and 20th centuries. Since then he specialised in the history of the relations between Ghanaians and the Dutch in all their respects, including the interracial relationships, the history and actual heritage of the Atlantic slave trade, and Dutch colonial policy towards West Africa. Other research interests include the Black Atlantic, heritage management in a post-colonial setting, and South African colonial history.
He is currently a reader in International Relations and African Studies at the University of Groningen (NL), co-editor of History in Africa: A Journal of Method, co-editor of the book series African Sources for African History and Sources for African History, and academic coordinator of the Erasmus Mundus Action 2 programme EU-SATURN for mobility of South African postgraduate students and staff to the European Union.
Introducing Michel Doortmont

_João-Rickli_Post-Background_image

RESEARCHER

Federal University of Paraná
I am Brazilian and, since March 2013, I work as a lecturer at Federal University of Paraná, in Curitiba (Brazil). I defended my PhD at VU University Amsterdam in 2010, doing research on missionary and diaconal efforts of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands. As a post-doc researcher at the same university, I did research on the use of images in the Catholic devotion to Our Lady Aparecida. This work was linked to the HERA project “Creativity and Innovation in a World of Movement”.
My current research is about religious aspects of the Dutch colonial interventions in the Atlantic space in the 17th century. I am especially interested on the relationships between Dutch Calvinists, African slaves and the indigenous people in the Dutch settlements in the Portuguese colonies in South America.
Introducing João Rickli

_Diana-Espírito-Santo_Post-Background_image

RESEARCHER

CRIA-FCSH
I studied psychology and philosophy at the London School of Economics before becoming interested in anthropology, after which I did an MSc. As an anthropologist I have been interested in spirit possession and mediation phenomena from the start of my research career. I wrote my PhD at University College London (awarded 2009) on concepts of selfhood, knowledge and mediumship development in Cuban Creole spiritism, known as “espiritismo cruzado”. Since then I have expanded my ethnographic interests to include imaginaries of witchcraft, the experience of transgressive spirit-person relations, and their corollary in the wider Afro-Cuban religious sphere, paranoia, suspicion and disassembly. I keep returning to Havana to follow up these themes through varied foci – dreams, spirit biographies, politics and religion. Since 2009 I have been a postdoctoral researcher – first at Institute of Social Sciences, University of Lisbon, and subsequently at the Centre for Research in Anthropology (CRIA), based at the New University of Lisbon. I currently work and write on notions of ontological plasticity and transformation in Brazilian Umbanda, namely, in the articulation and learning of spirits and their embodiment, working both in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. I have co-edited two books and my monograph, provisionally entitled Developing the Dead, is under review at a US press.
Introducing Diana Espirito Santo

Laurence_Dounyi_Post-Background_image

RESEARCHER

Université Libre de Bruxelles
University College London
Laurence Douny  is Associated Researcher at the Laboratoire d’Anthropologie des Mondes Contemporains at ULB, and Honorary Research Fellow at University College London. Over the past years, she has conducted field research in Mali, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Burkina-Faso, on topics of material culture, heritage, food, technology, etc. Her research project “West African ‘Heritagescapes’: Re-Thinking The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade from the Peripheries” investigates the social and historical formation of indigenous heritage landscapes in West Africa in the framework of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. Through the collection of oral histories, an examination of places and practices of commemoration, she focuses on points of departures and thus peripheries of the Slave Trade in Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast. This project explores the socio-political construction of local ‘heritagescapes’ and of aspects of West African material identities through slave trade with an emphasis on indigenous religious and symbolic practice and of concepts of trade, labor and heritage. It also interrogates people’s worldviews about slavery in the light of contemporary inter-ethnic social relations and recent political events in West Africa.
Introducing Laurence Douny

Marina-Temudo_Post-Background_image

RESEARCHER

University of Oxford
Marina P. Temudo is a Senior Research Affiliate at the African Studies Centre, University of Oxford, as well as a Senior Researcher at the Tropical Research Institute (Lisbon, Portugal). Her areas of research include bio-cultural diversity, conservation, environmental history, and the social aspects of agriculture and rural development in Africa. She has conducted fieldwork in Guinea-Bissau mostly, but also in Mozambique, Cape Verde, São Tomé and Principe and the Republic of Guinea. Her most recent publications have covered issues around environmental history, agro-biodiversity, shifting cultivation, landscapes transformations in post-war settings, the impact of cash crops on livelihood strategies, conflicts between park inhabitants and conservationists, and youth and the future of agriculture in Africa. Within the HERA project, she will join Ramon Sarró in Northern Angola, looking at the environmental and agrarian aspects of the heritage-isation of the region around Mbanza Kongo. Her project, supplementing Sarró’s, is entitled “Heritage and Landscapes transformation in Zaire (Northern Angola): Between the Value of the Past and the Value of the Land”.
Introducing Marina P. Tamudo

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CURRENTS OF FAITH, PLACES OF HISTORY:

RELIGIOUS DIASPORAS, CONNECTIONS,
MORAL CIRCUMSCRIPTIONS
AND WORLD-MAKING IN THE ATLANTIC SPACE

Acronym: CURRENTS
Project Leader (Principal Investigator 1): Ruy Llera Blanes (Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lisbon, Portugal)
Principal Investigators: Birgit Meyer (Utrecht University, Netherlands) ; David Berliner (Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium); Ramon Sarró (University of Oxford, UK).
Start and end date: 30 September 2013 - 29 September 2016
Project summary: The JRP Currents of Faith, Places of History brings together a multidisciplinary team of scholars that share a concern for religion, mobility, place and heritage in the Atlantic space. Our goal is to creatively rethink theories of Atlantic history focusing on ‘religious diasporas’ and exploring three main conceptualizations: ideas of ‘connections’, ‘moral circumscriptions’ and ‘world- making’. Through a partnership between institutions in Portugal, Belgium, Netherlands and the UK, we congregate a team of senior and junior scholars that will develop a network of research themes across the Atlantic space combining problems and methodologies sprung from social anthropology, history and religious studies. We engage in an interdisciplinary focus by which we synthesize an empirical ethnographic methodology with a historicist approach, exploring ‘meaningful histories’ in their cultural and religious manifestations. We chart historical directionalities between Europe (Netherlands, Portugal), Africa (Angola, RD Congo, Ghana, Guinea-Conakry), North and South America (USA, Cuba, Caribbean, Brazil, Peru) and distinguish contemporary logics of presence, by which certain territories become socially and politically meaningful, ‘heritagized’. We also question politics of identity and heritage, mobility and memory, and Europe's place in the Atlantic.



topbar banner

CURRENTS OF FAITH, PLACES OF HISTORY:

RELIGIOUS DIASPORAS, CONNECTIONS,
MORAL CIRCUMSCRIPTIONS
AND WORLD-MAKING IN THE ATLANTIC SPACE

Acronym: CURRENTS
Project Leader (Principal Investigator 1): Ruy Llera Blanes (Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lisbon, Portugal)
Principal Investigators: Birgit Meyer (Utrecht University, Netherlands) ; David Berliner (Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium); Ramon Sarró (University of Oxford, UK).
Start and end date: 30 September 2013 - 29 September 2016
Project summary: The JRP Currents of Faith, Places of History brings together a multidisciplinary team of scholars that share a concern for religion, mobility, place and heritage in the Atlantic space. Our goal is to creatively rethink theories of Atlantic history focusing on ‘religious diasporas’ and exploring three main conceptualizations: ideas of ‘connections’, ‘moral circumscriptions’ and ‘world- making’. Through a partnership between institutions in Portugal, Belgium, Netherlands and the UK, we congregate a team of senior and junior scholars that will develop a network of research themes across the Atlantic space combining problems and methodologies sprung from social anthropology, history and religious studies. We engage in an interdisciplinary focus by which we synthesize an empirical ethnographic methodology with a historicist approach, exploring ‘meaningful histories’ in their cultural and religious manifestations. We chart historical directionalities between Europe (Netherlands, Portugal), Africa (Angola, RD Congo, Ghana, Guinea-Conakry), North and South America (USA, Cuba, Caribbean, Brazil, Peru) and distinguish contemporary logics of presence, by which certain territories become socially and politically meaningful, ‘heritagized’. We also question politics of identity and heritage, mobility and memory, and Europe's place in the Atlantic.













































This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 291827.
The project CURRENTS is financially supported by the HERA Joint Research Programme (www.heranet.info) which is co-funded by AHRC, AKA, BMBF via PT-DLR, DASTI, ETAG, FCT, FNR, FNRS, FWF, FWO, HAZU, IRC, LMT, MHEST, NWO, NCN, RANNÍS, RCN, VR and The European Community FP7 2007-2013, under the Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities programme.