Adjudicating Religious Intolerance

Afro-Brazilian Religions, Public Space, and the National Collective in Twenty-First-Century Brazil

in Religion and Society
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  • 1 University of Helsinki elina.hartikainen@helsinki.fi
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Abstract

Allegations of religious intolerance push courts to deliberate on questions that are constitutive of the problem space of secularism. In addition to legal opinions on the character and scope of religious freedom vis-à-vis conflicting rights, these arbitrations result in authoritative statements on what constitutes religion, how it may inhabit public space, and, ultimately, what interests and values underpin the national collective. This article analyzes three high-profile court cases alleging religious intolerance against Afro-Brazilian religions that were tried in Brazil during the first two decades of the 2000s. It demonstrates how at this time of rapid religious transformation the adjudication of such cases acted as a key site for the Brazilian legal establishment to redefine the place of religion in the broader context of rights and laws that regulate religion in public spaces.

Contributor Notes

ELINA I. HARTIKAINEN is an Academy Research Fellow in Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Helsinki. Her research examines Afro-Brazilian religious engagements with secular law and state projects of democracy, multiculturalism, and violence prevention. Most recently, her research has been published in American Anthropologist, American Ethnologist, and Signs and Society. Currently, she is finishing a book manuscript on the politicization of practitioners of the Afro-Brazilian religion Candomblé in early 2000s Brazil, and is beginning research for an ethnographic study of secularism and the prosecution of religious intolerance against Afro-Brazilian religions in Brazil. E-mail: elina.hartikainen@helsinki.fi

Religion and Society

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