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Revolution in the Terra do SolThe Cold War in Brazil$
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Sarah Sarzynski

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781503603691

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9781503603691.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM STANFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.stanford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Stanford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in SSO for personal use.date: 22 February 2020

Religion as a Political Tool

Religion as a Political Tool

Resurrecting Canudos and Revolutionizing Jesus

(p.182) 5 Religion as a Political Tool
Revolution in the Terra do Sol

Sarah Sarzynski

Stanford University Press

This chapter examines how discourses of religious practices and beliefs of messianism and Catholic radicalism functioned to both unite rural workers and criminalize the rural social movements, while also coding o Nordeste as fanatical and non-modern. By connecting films and popular culture to rural social movement publications and U.S. and Brazilian government documents, the chapter shows the conflicting ways in which political and cultural actors resurrected the historical messianic movement and war of Canudos (1896-7) in the 1960s. Conservatives emphasized the “fanatical” features of social movement leaders and participants, mobilizing the dominant stereotype of Nordestinos as religiously devious. Rural social movements established their own religiously based narrative of a revolutionary Jesus who fought against the wealthy for the poor. The radicalization of Catholic doctrine along with debates about the meaning of past struggles in the Northeast such as Canudos both shifted and upheld the prevailing constructions of Northeastern Brazil.

Keywords:   messianism, religious fanaticism, Canudos, Brazilian liberation theology, Brazil military dictatorship

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