Dissertation Abstracts

The Origins of Spiritism in Brazil: dialogue, reason and resistance in the beginning of an experience (1850-1914)

Author: Fernandes, Paulo CC, pacefern@gmail.com
Department: Departament of Sociology
University: University of Brasilia, Brazil
Supervisor: Eurico Antônio Gonzalez Cursino dos Santos
Year of completion: 2010
Language of dissertation: Portuguese

Keywords: Sociology , Religion , Spiritism , Brazil
Areas of Research: Religion , Historical and Comparative Sociology


Spiritism is a doctrine born in France during the XIX century. It has as key principles the immortality of the soul, the possibility of communication with the “dead” and reincarnation. Its first appearance came via the work of “Allan Kardec”, a pseudonym of the pedagogue from Lyon, Hippolyte-Léon Denizard Rivail, who is responsible for its divulgation and also the author of some books about the subject. After having a history of problems in Europe (because of some of its controversial concepts), Spiritism arrived here in Brazil and experienced a fast propagation. The objective of this research is to understand the relations between this doctrine and Brazil, relations which are expressed in socio-cultural characteristics that arose as a result of the contact of these two realities. We also search for comprehension of spiritism qua talis, its basis, history and most important fundaments, and to answer some questions that serve as guidelines for this work, such as: What is spiritism, and what is its history? Why did it come to Brazil and who welcomed it here? What sort of changes did spiritism face when it came to our country and what did it contribute to, or did it have any contribution for, our (religious) culture? In conclusion we can say that both Brazil and Spiritism influenced each other. Sometimes these mutual exchanges did not come in pacific ways and each side searched to show its “resistances” inside the “dialogue” established. However, a synthesis imposed itself, and the result that took place was a spiritism more Brazilian and a Brazil which learned to accept Spiritism, a process started in the XIX century but still present nowadays.