Authority and the In-common in Processes of Minoritisation: Brazilian Pentecostalism

  • Joanildo BurityEmail author


This article examines how Pentecostals, recently emerging as active public actors in Brazil, wrestle with traditional top-down and contemporary decentred understandings of authority in seeking to carve a space of recognition for themselves and to project a public vision of a virtuous society based on their religious perspective. Their emergence at once challenges elements of the country’s political tradition and disputes other minorities’ views on what binds people together and what can be shared in the public sphere. Resisting both secular and ecumenical constructions of the common (shared life, national identity, culture, group ethos, etc.), Pentecostal minoritisation also struggles between its affirmation of the ‘democratic’, free gift of the Spirit, its multiple expressions and their situated reception of it. Minoritarian public religion raises a number of questions about what remains common across differences and the authority of religion over the wider range of public culture and political representation. Subject to multiple lines of force, such forms of emergence of ‘sectarian’ communalism in contexts of growing pluralisation and deterritorialisation are bound to produce various articulations of being-together and being-with and highlight the ambiguity of constructions of the in-common from below. Seeking to nurture community, setting boundaries between communities and appealing to overarching community values and shared legacies, religious minoritisation becomes both a source of commonality and distancing. The argument focuses on how Brazilian Pentecostals have built social and political authority from the bottom up, but in ambivalent ways, against the background of Jean-Luc Nancy’s construal of the common, interrogating both with further reference to Derrida’s notion of hospitality and Laclau’s concept of populism.


Pentecostalism Brazil Authority Minoritisation Democratisation 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Government (Ideology and Discourse Analysis)Essex UniversityColchesterUK
  2. 2.Social Research Institute (Diretoria de Pesquisas Sociais), Joaquim Nabuco Foundation (Fundação Joaquim Nabuco)RecifeBrazil

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