Wicked Women and Femmes Fatales

Kelly E. Hayes

in Holy Harlots

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780520262645
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520949430 | DOI:
Wicked Women and Femmes Fatales

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This chapter examines the intersections of magic, morality, and social marginalization in contemporary Brazil as they are embodied in and through the figure of Pomba Gira. Rather than abstracting this imaginative persona from the human dramas in which she figures, this chapter focuses on the significance of Pomba Gira in the life of an individual devotee, Maria Nazaré de Souza Oliveira, a working-class housewife, mother, and spiritual healer who lives with her extended family on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. Situating the spirit within the particularities of Nazaré's life, the chapter explores her relationship with Pomba Gira as a means for “working on the self and the world,” to borrow the historian Robert Orsi's formulation. The chapter suggests ways that individuals endeavor to transform both themselves and the world around them through stories and ritual practices invoking this spirit entity, and how they are transformed in the process.

Keywords: magic; morality; social marginalization; Brazil; Pomba Gira; Maria Nazaré de Souza Oliveira; Rio de Janeiro; spirit; self; ritual

Chapter.  13144 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology of Religion

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