John Burdick

Professor, Anthropology at Syracuse University


  • Syracuse University



Syracuse University


Ph.D., City University of New York, 1990


Political anthropology, social movements, the anthropology of religion, urban anthropology, race and racism, Latin America, Brazil





Single-authored  books

  1. The Color of Sound: Race, Religion and Music in Brazil. New York: New York University Press.

  2. Legacies of Liberation: the Progressive Catholic Church in Brazil at the Start of a  New Millennium. London: Ashgate International

  3. Blessed Anastácia: Women, Race, and Popular Christianity in Brazil. New York: Routledge

  4. Looking for God in Brazil: The Progressive Catholic Church in Urban Brazil’s Religious Arena. Berkeley: University of California Press. Translated into Portuguese as A Procura de Deus no Brasil: A Igreja Católica Progressista na Arena Religiosa do  Brasil Urbano. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Mauad, 1998.

Edited volumes

2012.  Comparative Perspectives on Afro-Latin America. Co-edited volume with Kwame Dixon. University Press of Florida.

2009.  Beyond Neoliberalism in Latin America. Palgrave Macmillan. Co-edited with Philip Oxhorn and Kenneth Roberts.

  1. The Church at the Grassroots in Latin America: Perspectives on Thirty Years of Activism. Greenwood Press. Co-edited volume with Ted Hewitt.

Articles in peer-refereed journals

2011.  “Are Black Gospel Singers Organic Intellectuals? Music, Religion and Racial Identity in São Paulo, Brazil”. Afro-Hispanic Review 28.2: 211-222

2010.  “A Conversation Between Conflict Resolution and Social Movement Scholars.” Co- authored with Beth Roy and Louis Kriesberg, Conflict Resolution Quarterly 27/4: 347-368

2009a. "The Singing Voice and Racial Politics on the Brazilian Evangelical Music Scene.” Latin  American Music Review 30: 1: 25-55

2009b.  “Collective Identity and Racial Thought on São Paulo’s Black Gospel Music Scene.” Music and Arts in Action 1: 2: 16-29

  1. “Class, Place and Blackness in São Paulo’s Gospel Music Scene,” Latin American  and Caribbean Ethnic and Racial Studies Volume 3, Issue 2 July: 149 – 169

  2. “Why is the Evangelical Black Movement Growing in Brazil?” Journal of Latin American Studies 37/2 (May): 311-332.

2002."Negra and Mestiça: Emergent Meanings in Brazil''s Black Pastoral", Luso-Brazilian  Review 39/1 (March): 95-101.

  1. "Tortura e Redenção". Religião e Sociedade 20/1: 55-65.

1999a. "The Liberationist Catholic Church in Brazil." American Anthropologist. 101(2): 420-423.

1999b. "What is the Color of the Holy Spirit? Pentecostalism and Black Identity in Brazil".  Latin American Research Review 34/2: 109-131.

  1. “The Lost Constituency of Brazil’s Black Consciousness Movements,” Latin American  Perspectives  98/2 (January): 136-155.

1996a. “La Curación y la Hegemonia: Interpretando la Politica de una Devocion Brasilena,” Nueva Antropologia: Revista de Ciencias Sociales. Vol. 15, No. 50  (October): 91-112.

1996b. “The Spirit of Rebel and Docile Slaves: The Black Version of  Brazilian Umbanda.”Journal of Latin American Lore.18: 163-187.

  1. “Uniting Theory and Practice in the Study of Social Movements: Notes Toward a  Hopeful  Realism.”  Dialectical Anthropology 20 (1995): 361-385

  2. “The Progressive Catholic Church in Latin America: Giving Voice or Listening to Voices?” Latin American Research Review  29/1 (Spring): 184-196.

  3. “Observações sobre a Campanha da Fraternidade de 1988 na Baixada Fluminense.” Comunicações do ISER  40: 42-47.

  4. “Gossip and Secrecy: The Articulation of Domestic Conflict in Three Religions of  Urban Brazil,” Sociological Analysis 51/2 (Summer). 153-170.

  5. “A Queda do Profeta Negro: O Significado Ambivalente de Raca no Pentecostalismo.”Comunicações do ISER 33: 43-63.

  6. “From Virtue to Fitness: The Accommodation of a Planter to Postbellum Virginia.” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography  93/1 (January): 14-35.

Book chapters and articles in non-peer-refereed journals

Forthcoming. “Anastácia. Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro-Latin American Biography.

  1. “Introduction: Blacknesses in Latin America,” with Kwame Dixon, in Burdick and Dixon

  2. “A Dialogue About Iraq”,  Peace Newsletter March

  3. “Black Identity Politics in a Surprising Place” BRASAnotes, pp. 6-8

2004a. “The Catholic Afro Mass and the Dance of Eurocentrism in Brazil”, in Henry  Goldschmidt and Elizabeth McAlister, eds., Race, Nation  and Religion in the  Americas, Oxford  University Press, 111-130

2004b. “War Will Not Bring Justice,” in Roberto Gonzalez, ed., Anthropologists in the Public  Sphere: Speaking Out on War, Peace, and American Power. Austin: University of Texas Press.

  1. “Preface” to Rolf Ribeiro da Souza, A Confraria da Esquina: o que os homens de verdade falam em torno de uma carne queimando. Etnografia de um churrasco de esquina no subúrbio carioca. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Bruxedo, 11-13.

2002a. “Das Erbe der Befreiung: Fortschritterlicher Kaholizismus in Brasilien,” (“Legacies of  Liberation: The Progressive Catholic Church in Brazil in the Last Decade”) in Wolfgang Gabbert et al, eds. Religion und Macht  (Munster: Westfalisches  Dampfboot), 13-35.

2002b. “Pentecostalismo e identidade negra no Brasil: mistura impossivel?" In Yvonne Maggie and Claudia Rezende, eds. Raca e rhetorica: perspectivas comparadas. Rio de Janeiro: Editora UFRJ,  185-212

2000a. "The Evolution of a Progressive Catholic Project: the Case of the Black Pastoral in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil". In John Burdick and Ted Hewitt, eds. The Church at the Grassroots in Latin America: Perspectives on Thirty Years of Activism. Greenwood  Press, 71-84.

2000b. "Afterword". In John Burdick and Ted Hewitt, eds. The Church at the Grassroots in Latin America: Perspectives on Thirty years of Activism. Greenwood Press. 205-210.

1999a. “The Catholic Church and the African Diaspora.” In Henry Louis Gates and Anthony Appiah, eds., Africana : The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience. New York: Basic Civitas Books.

1999b. “The Protestant Church and the Ambiguity of Racial Identity in the Diaspora.” In Henry Louis Gates and Anthony Appiah, eds., Africana : The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience. New York: basic Civitas Books.

1999c. “African-derived Religions in Latin America and the Caribbean.” In Henry Louis Gates and Anthony Appiah, eds., Africana : The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience. New York: Basic Civitas Books

1999d. “The Devotion to Slave Anastacia in Brazil.” In Henry Louis Gates and Anthony Appiah, eds. Africana : The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience. New York: Basic Civitas Books.

  1. “Struggling Against the Devil: Pentecostalism and Social Movements in Urban Brazil.” in  David Stoll and Virginia Garrard-Burnett, eds. Rethinking Protestantism in Latin America. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 20-44.

1992a. “Rethinking the Study of Social Movements: The Case of Christian Base Communities in Urban Brazil.” in Arturo Escobar and Sonia Alvarez, eds., The Making of Social Movements in Latin America . Boulder: Westview. 171-184.

1992b. “Brazil’s Black Consciousness Movement.” NACLA Report on the Americas 25/4: 23- 27.

1992c. “The Myth of Racial Democracy.”  NACLA Report on the Americas 25/4: 40-44.


Rachel Wright
Melinda Gurr
Jesse Harasta
Bethany Bloomston
Lori Klivak
Dana Hill
Holly Dobbins
Gorda Stanish
Fabiola Ortiz

Research Interests

a) The African Diaspora in Latin America
b) The role of music in the political and social movements
c) The politics of religion
d) The role of contention in social change
e) Community organizing in the US
f) Action and activist research methods

Research Projects

1) Shantytown dwellers’ anti-gentrification movements in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
2) NGOs and contentious non-state actors in Guatemala
3) Community Benefits Agreements and community-labor coalitions in Syracuse, NY

Research Grants and Awards

  1. Kauffman Foundation Grant for the Development of Entrepreneurship. $12,000.

2009-2010. Imagining America Grant to support Community Research Fellow Project. $5,000.

2008-2009.  SU Grants to support Community Research Fellowship: $12,000, from the Chancellor’s Office, Arts and Sciences, and Maxwell.

2007-2008. Arts and Sciences, Syracuse University: Ray Smith Symposium on Workers Struggles  and Narrative in the Twentieth Century, $15,000, co-submitted with Steven J. Parks of the  SU Writing Program. Awarded

  1. American Association of Colleges and Universities. Grant to develop Community research,   co-submitted with Steven J. Parks of SU’s Writing Program. $10,000.

  2. Tinker Foundation Grant to Enhance Graduate Student Education ($10,000). This award was obtained through a joint application submitted by me as the Director of the Program on   Latin America and the Caribbean, and Binghamton University’s Latin American Studies Program.

2004 Fulbright-Hayes Grant for Faculty Research in Brazil ($25,000)

2004.  National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend, for research on black  evangelicalism in Brazil.  ($5,000)

Selected Professional Activities

Executive Board of the Brazilian Studies Association

Chair, Religion Section of the Latin American Studies Association national   conference

Chair, Committee for Brazil Section Book Prize, Latin American Studies Association

Brazilian Studies Association, National Planning Committee for New Directions

Fulbright, IIEE. National Committee Reviewer of Brazil applications


“Looking for God in Brazil,” PhD at CUNY Graduate Center, 1990. Eric Wolf, advisor

Recent Invited Lectures

  1. “Voices of God: Gender, race and Singing in the Black Gospel Music Scene in Brazil”, Symposium on Brazil, Politics and Culture, Humanities Council Center, Syracuse University, April 15

  2. “Singing the Spirits Among Black Women Pentecostal in Brazil,” Black Women and Pentecostalism Conference, Bowdoin College, April 20.

  3. “Liberation Theology Twenty Years Later”,  invited lecture for the Latin American Studies Program at American University, Washington, DC. March 28.

  4. “The Rise of Brazil.” New York State Teachers Association. October.

2010a. “Are Black Gospel Singers Organic Intellectuals?” Keynote at Boston University, April 22

2010b. “Religion, Politics and Activist Ethnography,” Symposium on Religion and Scholarly Disciplines, Syracuse University, April 9

2009a. “Music and Gangs: Unasked Questions”, Columbia University, November 7.

Professional Service

See above


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