In This Review

Blessed Anastacia: Women, Race, and Christianity in Brazil
Blessed Anastacia: Women, Race, and Christianity in Brazil
By John Burdick
Routledge, 1998, 246 pp

A persuasive thesis from a passionate scholar-activist. Following his remarkable book on religion in Brazil, Burdick breaks new ground again with an account of how women's experience with race in Brazil is reflected through religious devotion. He does this with an extraordinary analysis of popular Christianity in the cult of the Blessed Anastacia, which commands a massive following throughout Brazil in both Pentecostal and Catholic communities. Anastacia is often portrayed as a black woman with blue eyes, her mouth muzzled by a mask. As Burdick writes, this religious devotion "helps black women value themselves physically, challenge dominant aesthetic values, cope with spousal abuse, and imagine the possibilities of racial healing based upon a fusion of real experience with utopian hope." He takes the reader into a world where spiritualized religion, race, and gender all intersect, providing a wholly original picture of how racial conceptions and a history of injustice express themselves as Brazilians live out their daily lives. A nuanced and brilliant ethnography, this is a major contribution to scholarship.