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Cristina Rocha

Western Sydney University, Religion and Society Research Cluster - (FIAS Program)
Transforming Pentecostalism in Brazil: Australian Megachurches, Mobility, Media and Materiality
01 September 2021 -
30 June 2022
Social anthropology and ethnology

Cristina Rocha is Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Religion and Society Research Cluster, Western Sydney University, Australia. She is a former President of the Australian Association for the Study of Religion (2018–2019). She co-edits the Journal of Global Buddhism and the Religion in the Americas series, Brill. She has held Visiting Researcher positions at Utrecht University (Netherlands), Kings College and Queen Mary College (UK), CUNY Graduate Centre (US), and the Max Planck Institute for Religious and Ethnic Diversity (Germany). Her research focuses on the intersections of globalisation, migration and religion.

In September 2021, she joined the Paris IAS as part of the French Institutes for Advanced Study fellowship program - FIAS - co-funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 945408. Her fellowship also benefits from the support of the RFIEA+ LABEX, with a national funding (Grant ANR-11-LABX-0027-01). 

Research interests

Anthropology of Religion and Globalisation, Transnationalism and Migration, Pentecostalism, Healing, Spirituality, The New Age, Buddhism in the West

Transforming Pentecostalism in Brazil: Australian Megachurches, Mobility, Media and Materiality

Christianity is undergoing significant transformations in a global, digital and post-secular age. The explosion of Pentecostal and Charismatic churches, particularly in the Global South, is simultaneously shifting the geographies of Christianity away from the West and creating porous religious communities and imaginaries across borders. New and reconfigured forms of Christianity are increasingly digitally mediated, engaged with youth cultures, and involving new forms of consumption, branding and identity.

This project grapples with these developments by analysing the arrival of Australian “Cool” megachurches in Brazil. It contributes significant new knowledge to areas at the forefront of debates on globalisation, religion and migration: the ways in which religion is globalised and localised in everyday life; the role of religion in migration; and the continuing vitality of religion in the public sphere in late modernity. Following the material turn, this study moves beyond ‘belief’ as a central category, and seeks to understand how assemblages of peoples, materialities and practices co-constitute one another and are sensitive to regimes of power.

It investigates how these megachurches—with their celebrity pastors, services that resemble night clubs, award-winning worship bands, corporate-like buildings, intensive use of social media—communicate excitement, modernity, and cosmopolitanism in a country where Pentecostalism is associated with the poor, corruption and marginality.


Key publications

Rocha Cristina, “’God is in Control:’ Middle-Class Pentecostalism and International Student Migration”, in Journal of Contemporary Religion, vol 34, n°1, 2019, p. 21-37. https://doi.org/10.1080/13537903.2019.1585097

Rocha Cristina, John of God: The Globalization of Brazilian Faith Healing, Oxford University Press, 2017, 288 p.

Rocha Cristina, Zen in Brazil: The Quest for Cosmopolitan Modernity, University of Hawaii Press, 2005, 270 p.

Latest publication

Rocha Cristina, “’Living the Dream’: Post-Millennial Brazilians at Hillsong College”, in C. Rocha, M Hutchinson, and K. Openshaw (eds), Australian Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements: Arguments from the Margins, Brill, 2020, p. 217-235. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004425798_012

Talk by Cristina Rocha (Western Sidney University, 2021-2022 Paris IAS Fellow) as part of the workshop organized by Oxford University
17 Jun 2022 16:00 -
17 Jun 2022 17:30,
Moving and being moved:healing, conversion, trance and transnationalism
Seminar organized with Cristina Rocha (Western Sydney University, Paris Institute for Advanced Study), with the participation of Clara Saraiva (ICS-ULisboa) with the support of the University of Lisbon and of the FCT
26 May 2022 11:00 -
26 May 2022 12:45,
Seeking Healing in Brazil. John of God, Biomedicine and Anti-Vaccine Cultures
25 Jan 2022 10:00 -
25 Jan 2022 13:00,
Transforming Pentecostalism in Brazil: Australian Megachurches, Mobility, Media and Materiality
Contemporary period (1789-…)
Central and South America