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CORDIS

Pentecostalism and Social media in Brazil: Faith and the digital production of gendered, racialized and class-based Pentecostal bodies

Project description

Exploring the rise of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God

With its headquarters in São Paulo, Brazil, the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG) is one of the largest neo-Pentecostal churches in Brazil, with a global reach. Founded by a billionaire evangelical bishop, the UCKG claims more than 12 million members in over 150 countries. It has television networks, radio stations, newspapers and an active presence on social media. The EU-funded KBMSCACAR project will focus on the UCKG to highlight how the interplay between religion and media drives societal and cultural transformations. The project will also demonstrate that there is a radicalised, class-based and gendered process of ‘white acculturation’ occurring within Pentecostalism. Specifically, KBMSCACAR will study how UCKG followers interact with the Church through social media. It will combine analyses of social media with participant observation and in-depth interviews.

Objective

This project has 2 aims, firstly, to demonstrate how the interplay between religion and media is a significant locus for transformations of modern society and culture; and secondly, to demonstrate that there is racialised, class-based and gendered process of ‘white acculturation’ occurring within Pentecostalism which has hitherto been ignored in both Sociological studies of Pentecostalism and Digital Religion Studies. By examining the neo-Pentecostal Universal Church Kingdom of God (UCKG) and the way in which their followers interact with the Church through digital media on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, this project examines the role of race, gender and class, in the construction of Pentecostal identity, both online and offline. I argue that Brazil is a crucial place in which to study the intersections between new media, digital culture, religion and the transformation of modern society and culture, because within its current backdrop of political conflict, gender, race, class and religion have become deeply entwinned. Using the theory of whiteness or ‘white acculturation’: the idea that racism and white supremacy function through a process of political, social, economic, and religious domination rather interpersonal acts of racism, in combination with an intersectional perspective of analysis, I suggest that UCKG Pentecostal identity is expressed online through ways of speaking, learning and experiencing the body through the circulation of images and digital content produced by Bishops and Bishop’s wives, and by their followers. This project therefore asks how gender, whiteness and class intersect in the digital production of UCKG media and how these messages are incorporated and expressed in bodily form by UCKG followers on social media and in the offline world in the construction of their Pentecostal identity. It combines analysis of social media with fieldwork using ethnographic methods of participant observation and in-depth interviews.

Coordinator

UPPSALA UNIVERSITET
Net EU contribution
€ 203 852,16
Address
VON KRAEMERS ALLE 4
751 05 Uppsala
Sweden

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Region
Östra Sverige Östra Mellansverige Uppsala län
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Links
Total cost
€ 203 852,16