Department of Religious Studies

Interview with Dr. Virginia Garrard-Burnett

Fri, February 11, 2005

Latin American Studies Professor Virginia Garrard-Burnett talked with us about the conference (February 17-18) at UT, "Is God Brazilian? Christianity and New Religious Movements."

What was the impetus for this conference?
As we move into the 21st century, Brazil has some of the most diverse "products" in the religious marketplace. It has the largest population of Catholics in the world. But at the same time, Brazil over the last quarter-century has become nearly one-third Protestant, and it is home to one of the fast-growing Christian denominations in the world, the Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus, a church which now sends missionaries all over the globe, including to Europe and the United States. Beyond that, many Brazilians also participate in African diasporan religions such as Candomble and Umbanda. It's a fascinating religious landscape.

What else are you working on?
I am working right now on two edited volumes-one on religion and politics and the other on "indigenous theologies" within LA Protestantism. Both are about Guatemala. No tienen nada que ver con Brasil!

Is there anything that would make UT especially attractive for a religious studies student interested in Latin America?
Religious Studies at UT is taking off- it's a dynamic program with lots of energy and good will behind it. Combine that with LLILAS' strengths as the #1 Latin American area center in the country, and that fact that we have the largest library of Latin American-related resources in the US as well. Given these strengths, plus our geographic proximity to Latin America (making it relatively easy to get "in the field") should make UT an attractive destination for any RS student!

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