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The secular Brazilian State, morality and Christianity in the Amazonian margins

Grant number: 09/17106-0
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctoral
Effective date (Start): June 01, 2010
Effective date (End): December 31, 2010
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Anthropology
Principal Investigator:Ana Claudia Duarte Rocha Marques
Grantee:Ashley Brooke Lebner
Host Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


What kind of state is entailed by a secular government that is 'moralizing' one of its programs? This project will explore this question through ethnographic research on the 'Moralization of agrarian reform,' a program launched in July 2009 in the Southeast of Pará, a region notorious for its political and social turbulence and where my previous research identified the cultural importance of Christianity. Run by the National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform and the Ministry of the Federal Prosecutor in Pará, the program assembles bureaucrats, technicians, legal experts and local landholders to 'moralize' illegal land concentration in agrarian reform settlements. As such, it provides a unique research opportunity: to reassess the secular Brazilian state at its political and territorial margins. Through long-term participant observation and interviews across the program sites, the research will focus on the institutional and popular, often Christian, moral discourses and ethical practices that are mobilized in the program and that produce the secular state. While morality, ethics, secularism, Christianity and the state have - separately - attracted increasing attention over the last decade in anthropology and beyond, they have yet to be addressed together. The project thus promises research of relevance to scholars across the human sciences. (AU)

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