Connecting the Books Series: The Charismatic Gymnasium

When and Where

Monday, February 28, 2022 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm


Maria José de Abreu


The Connaught Global Challenge Initiative, Entangled Worlds: Sovereignty, Sanctities and Soil is pleased to present an in-conversation event with Professor Maria José de Abreu (Columbia), author of "The Charismatic Gymnasium: Breath, Media, and Religious Revivalism in Contemporary Brazil" (2021, Duke University Press).

Book Description:

In The Charismatic Gymnasium, Maria José de Abreu examines how Charismatic Catholicism in contemporary Brazil produces a new form of total power through a concatenation of the breathing body, theology, and electronic mass media. De Abreu documents a vast religious respiratory program of revival popularly branded as “the aerobics of Jesus.” Pneuma—the Greek term for air, breath, and spirit—is central to this aerobic program, whose goal is to labor on the athletic elasticity of spirit. Tracing the rhetoric, gestures, and spaces that together constitute this new theological community, de Abreu exposes the articulating forces among evangelical Christianity, neoliberal logics, and the rise of right-wing politics. By calling attention to how an ethics of pauperism vitally intersects with the neoliberal ethos of flexibility, de Abreu shows how paradoxes do not hinder but expand the Charismatic gymnasium. The result, de Abreu demonstrates, is the production of a fluid form of totalitarianism and Christianity in Brazil and beyond.

About the Event:

This event will begin promptly at 12:00pm with a brief introduction by an advanced graduate student, followed by a brief presentation by the author. General discussion and question-answer period to follow.

Since these are in-conversation events we ask that attendees read the respective ethnographies or part of them, which can be found in the University of Toronto online catalogue.

Zoom links will be provided to those who RSVP via Eventbrite. Zoom rooms will be open 15 minutes prior to start time, for those wishing to gather beforehand.

About the Author:

Maria José de Abreu is assistant professor of anthropology at Columbia University. Her work engages with a range of anthropological, philosophical and literary debates about temporality, personhood, the human senses, and their technological extension.


The Connaught Global Challenge Initiative, Entangled Worlds: Sovereignty Sanctities and Soil