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Alternative Modernities: Statecraft and Religious Imagination in the Valley of the Dawn

James Holston
American Ethnologist
Vol. 26, No. 3 (Aug., 1999), pp. 605-631
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the American Anthropological Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/647440
Page Count: 27
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Alternative Modernities: Statecraft and Religious Imagination in the Valley of the Dawn
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Abstract

Many new religions promote the emblems and institutions of modern nation-states. In this article, I consider an example from Brazil, analyzing the mimetic relations between its modernist capital, Brasília, and a millenarian and ecstatic religion called the Valley of the Dawn located on the city's outskirts. I focus on the project of salvation that each sponsors and on a religious ritual that stages a judicial event associated with the state. Arguing against compensatory explanations, I suggest that both state and religion are performances, mutually critical, of the same paradigm of modernity. [Brazil, modernity, millenarian religion, spirit possession, ritual, nation-state, bureaucracy, law]

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