This article describes Brazil's late twentieth-century religious transformation through the lens of an Amazonian settler family whom I call the Solanhas. Accounts of various Solanha members' shifting religious and political commitments elucidate how the perceived impossibility of constant human (as opposed to divine) friendship, a perception that also applies to the limitations of kinship, is implicated in the move from an encompassing Catholicism to an intensifying secularity. In foregrounding problems of friendship and kinship, the ethnography begins from a different premise than most studies of secularity. Anthropologists have tended to describe secularity as a condition secured by political/state secularism, which manages and produces distinctions between religion and politics. Drawing on the work of Marilyn Strathern and others, I show that relations, especially kinship and friendship, are more vital than secularism in animating distinctions among religion(s) and politics. I argue that if secularity is to be grasped more fully, the flow of all conceptual and interpersonal relations, and especially kinship and friendship in all their instability, must be brought into view. An anthropologically informed approach to secularity, and ultimately to history, should emphasize the irresolvable challenges of relating, as these challenges will remain key elements of life, knowledge, and ultimately of change in these mutable times.
- 5143 Social- och kulturantropologi