Religion in the Atlantic World

Kenneth Mills

in The Oxford Handbook of the Atlantic World

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199210879
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

Religion in the Atlantic World

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Writing on the diffusion of artistic forms in a transoceanic context, the art historian George Kubler likened an important work of art to a lighthouse emitting ‘signals’, which might be transferred officially, but might also be carried by ‘unexpected bearers’ to be ‘relayed’ to diverse people, including unintended recipients. This article adapts Kubler's model of diffusion and transformation to the transatlantic afterlives of a broader set of European forms and ideas, particularly those relating to religion. It contends that episodes suggesting religious transformation across the Atlantic world can be fruitfully studied in similar terms. Because sculpted and painted religious images were sometimes at the centre of such encounters, the connection is especially apt. Charting the interpenetration of religious systems in Brazil, Roger Bastide has argued that even when Catholicism took root as a living religious reality among Afro-Brazilians, a separation from ‘Portuguese Catholicism’ was distinguishable.

Keywords: Atlantic world; religion; George Kubler; religious transformation; Brazil; Roger Bastide; Catholicism

Article.  8300 words. 

Subjects: History ; Social and Cultural History

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