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Title: Children of the land and children of the Saint : heritage, religion, and territoriality in a Brazilian quilombo
Author: Chatzikidi, Katerina
ISNI:       0000 0004 7229 7448
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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This dissertation is looking at quilombo grassroots land and identity politics as they transpire in a compound of Black rural communities in the north of the state of Maranhão, Brazil. One of the main questions this thesis asks is: How do communities mobilise resources in defence of their territories when formal means of establishing land claims have been exhausted? Based on ethnographic research conducted over fifteen months my analysis delves into strategies employed by peasant groups for the assertion of their collective land ownership. This assertion taps into specific ethno-racial legislation and it is especially directed towards Evangelical Christians, whom the majority of Catholic quilombola residents regard as their territorial and religious antagonists. This thesis's broadest argument is that this territorial defence mainly materialises through two streams of action: religious and cultural grassroots activism. It is argued that creative uses and articulations of cultural and religious practices, and the creation of a network of alliances, transpire as the most relevant means of 'informal' community politics. More specifically, I argue that local ceramic production (intrinsically attached to notions of a 'quilombo heritage') and religious festivities in honour of the local patron saint contribute to the preservation of a specific quilombo territoriality. In the ethnographic context examined, this territoriality is inherently attached to popular Catholicism and notions of quilombola cultural identity. Employing approaches from agrarian, peasant politics, quilombo, and heritage studies, this dissertation seeks to illuminate the dynamic relation between local perceptions of land and territoriality in the 'lands of Santa Teresa'. Overall, this thesis aims at contributing to those studies that explore the diversity and creativity of politics 'from below'.
Supervisor: Ewart, Elizabeth ; Sarró, Ramon Sponsor: HERA-net
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Ethnology ; Social anthropology ; heritage ; quilombos ; land rights ; Brazil ; popular Catholicism