The International Studies Public Forum presents
“If I Give My Soul: Pentecostalism inside Rio de Janeiro’s Prisons”
with Andrew Johnson, Research Associate, University of Southern California, Center for Religion & Civic Culture
Tuesday, November 6, 2014
5:00pm – 6:20 p.m.
Social Science Plaza A, Room 1100
Rio de Janeiro is a beauty. Its topography is iconic and its people photogenic. Images of both helped to bring the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games to the city. But Rio is a city of contrasts and beyond the beaches and bikinis are impoverished neighborhoods that are controlled by narco-gangs, suffer from some of the world’s highest homicide rates and host some of the harshest prisons in the Americas. In this social milieu, Pentecostal Christianity has emerged as a powerful force not only in the impoverished favelas and marginalized slums, but inside of prison. In every one of Rio’s jails and prisons inmates form independent Pentecostal churches, claiming part of the prison as their own and prescribing rituals and regulations to follow – much like the gangs that these new converts leave. Dr. Johnson will use data from a year of ethnographic fieldwork inside of Rio’s prisons along with footage from a soon-to-be released documentary film to explore Pentecostal practice inside of prison, the political implications of the faith and how inmates find dignity and purpose in the midst of extreme hardship and suffering.

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