Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, Vol 9, No 4 (2015)

Re-enchanting Late Modernity: The Role of Nature in Brazilian Umbanda

Emma Francis Stone
Issued Date: 15 Jan 2016


The natural world holds a place of great reverence in Umbanda, an Afro-Brazilian religion. Whether experienced by adherents as plant-based healing or festive celebrations held in the midst of the crashing seashore, the inclusion of the natural world in spiritual practice is visible in diverse aspects of Umbanda, and is significant in the context of late modern life in urban Brazil. Following an ethnographic methodology, I explore two middle-class Umbanda terreiros (centres) located in Botafogo, in Rio de Janeiro and in Cotia, Sao Paulo, in order to illuminate how nature is constructed, perceived, and integrated into Umbanda practice and ritual. I argue that Umbanda provides an appealing means of re-enchanting late modernity in Brazil through interaction with nature and the privileging of embodied practices and rituals, and that this is particularly attractive to the middle and upper socioeconomic classes, in part by rehabilitating their perceptions of the natural environment.

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DOI: 10.1558/jsrnc.v9i4.20838


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