Publication Date

January 1985


The Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion is published by Feminist Studies in Religion,


The study of religion is now expanding to include, consciously and in scholarly depth, the roles of women in many religious traditions. Investigation of women's religious history may find, as is the case in Brazil, that women's absence from strong religious roles is sometimes more noteworthy than their presence. I undertook the research for the present study when I repeatedly failed to find evidence of women's influence in Roman Catholic institutions in Brazil. While I thought I would "rediscover" women's roles, I found there were no great roles to rediscover: women were consistently suppressed and excluded from participation in public activity in the Brazilian Church. The history of women in Brazilian religions has been a history of limitations, but with an exception: women, particularly those of indisputable African lineage, have dominated the syncretistic Afro-Brazilian religious groups.



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