Spirits and Scientists: Ideology, Spiritism, and Brazilian Culture by David  J. Hess

Spirits and Scientists: Ideology, Spiritism, and Brazilian Culture

byDavid J. Hess

Paperback | November 21, 2007

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Brazilian Spiritism (espiritismo, kardecismo) is an important middle-class religious movement whose followers believe in communication with the dead via spirit mediums and in healing illnesses by means of spiritual therapies. Unlike Anglo-Saxon Spiritualists, Brazilian Spiritists count among their number a well-developed and institutionalized intellectual elite that has reinterpreted northern hemisphere parapsychology and developed its own alternative medicine and sociology of religion. As a result, the mediation between popular religion (especially Afro-Brazilian religious practices) and the orthodoxies of the universities, the state, and the medical profession.

Situating Spiritist intellectual thought in what he calls a broader ideological arena, Hess examines Spiritism in the context of religion, science, political ideology, medicine, and even the social sciences. Hess challenges the legacy of French sociologist Roger Bastide, who saw in Spiritism an elitist, middle-class ideology. In the process, Spirits and Scientists provides a new approach to middle-class religious movements in Latin America.

About The Author

David J. Hess is Assistant Professor of Anthropology in the Science and Technology Studies Department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. David J. Hess is Assistant Professor of Anthropology in the Science and Technology Studies Department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
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Title:Spirits and Scientists: Ideology, Spiritism, and Brazilian CultureFormat:PaperbackDimensions:272 pages, 8.96 × 6.01 × 0.65 inPublished:November 21, 2007Publisher:Penn State University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0271033673

ISBN - 13:9780271033679

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“A well-researched and well-written account of Spiritism among contemporary Brazilians. Theoretically, Hess is remaking the traditional concept of syncretism in the anthropological study of religions, particularly of folk religions where world religions are adapted over long periods of time to local systems of belief. Certainly in English there is nothing in the literature quite like this treatment of Spiritism among literate, and presumably modern, secular people in Brazil.”—George Marcus, Rice University