Academic Outputs

  • 2017 Undergrads Research Fellowship program, Boston College, $ 1,845
  • 2016 Undergrads Research Fellowship program, Boston College, $ 12,100
  • 2015 Undergrads Research Fellowship program, Boston College, $ 4,500
  • 2015 Institute for the Liberal Arts, Conference on Religion in Latin America, $17,050
  • 2015 John Templeton Foundation, “The transformation of lived religion in urban Latin America: a study of contemporary Latin Americans’ experience of the transcendent”, $ 511,000 P.I.


2018 Publications

Publication in “Social Imaginaries” 4.2 (2018) 87-106, Morello Latin America’s Religious Imaginary Abstract: This paper explores how the unfulfilled promises of modernity, both of security and prosperity, affect the Latin American religious imaginary. I study the idea of a ‘religious social imaginary’ not only as a theoretical construct, but also as an interpretative tool to analyze empirical data. This imaginary is composed of an image of the divine in relationship with humanity, a set of cultural practices that shape these interactions, and the expression of a moral order that mirrors this construction of divinity. I use a nonrandom sample of 12 in-depth, semi-structured life history and object elicitation interviews with poor Latin Americans from Córdoba, Argentina, Montevideo, Uruguay, and Lima, Peru. Latin Americans of low income and limited educational backgrounds are the best informants for this study because they are, paradoxically, both the people modernity left behind as well as the popular image of a threat to modernity’s benefits for the rest of the population. I find that the participants construct an image of an accessible, intimate divinity that provides both companionship and protection, which manifests in other people as well as objects, and requires believers to embody these same caring characteristics. I propose that the construction of this contemporary Latin American religious imaginary is not only a response to the unique experience of modernity in the region, but also a tool of resistance against the hegemony inherent in modernity.

2017 Publications

Journal Visioni Lantinoamericane

Introduction. Lived religion in Latin America and Europe. Roman Catholics and their practices
Gustavo Morello

Abstract: Scholars in Latin America tend to agree that the religious landscape of the region is undergoing transformation. Yet, there are on-going discussions about the causes, depth, and direction of this change. There is evidence that the Catholic Church no longer holds a religious monopoly, but not much research on how Roman Catholicism is practiced today has been carried out. The Author introduces a series of papers that presents a broader qualitative, comparative study that investigates the lived religion of Latin Americans in a wider cultural context which accounts for the influences of Spain and Italy in South America.

Being a Roman Catholic in a context of religious diversity. An exploration of lived religion among Catholics in Córdoba, Argentina
Hugo H. Rabbia ; Lucas Gatica

Abstract: From a lived religion approach, the Authors explore how Catholics and ex-Catholics from Córdoba, Argentina, conceive “being Catholics”, and how they react to the plurality of religious options in their everyday lives. The conceptions are diverse and contested. Inter-religious practices are multiple, but when diversity is present within their own homes (inter-religious families) they prefer to avoid speaking of religion.

Lived Roman Catholicism in Lima
Catalina Romero; Rolando Pérez; Veronique Lecaros

Abstract: Lima is a city where religions flourish in a context of religious transformation. The Authors approached lived Catholicism from a qualitative perspective considering urban diversity and different lifestyles. Differences in lived religion were found in three local domains of everyday life: 1) the family, which paves the way for school and sacred spaces; 2) the parish, where individuals seek to live their religion; 3) civil society, including the workplace and social organizations.

Individuos, instituciones y espacios de fe. El caso de los católicos en Uruguay
Valentina Pereira Arena; Camila Brusoni

Abstract: The Authors discuss the relationship that Catholic believers maintain with the religious institution through their own notions of spaces where faith and transcendence are lived. For both Catholics who are far from the institution and those who still have a link with it, the spaces for living religion are manifold and varied.


Journal Estudos de Religião

Explorando los “sin religión de pertenencia” en Córdoba, Argentina
Hugo H. Rabbia

Abstract: In recent decades, the number of people who identify themselves as "without religion” or “nones” has been increasing in Argentina. It is a social segment hardly explored, that has been studied more by its differentiation with religious people than by its own particularities. This paper explores the heterogeneity that encompasses the "nonreligious", from autobiographical narratives and object’s elicitation interviews to 18 people from Córdoba, Argentina. We describe their narratives on spirituality and religiosity, conceptions of transcendence, and beliefs and daily spiritual and (non) religious practices. The study discusses the categories available to characterize the segment, and proposes a typology of social positions that distinguishes believers disaffiliated, atheists, indifferent and spiritual seekers.

Creencia e increencia desde las vivencias cotidianas. Una mirada desde Uruguay
Néstor Da Costa

Abstract: In recent years the international bibliography, has been developing attempts to understand and characterize those people who define themselves as believers without affiliation to any religious institution, as well as by those who define themselves as unbelievers, in English usually “nones”. Several quantitative studies have reported this phenomenon in our region that shows clear disparities between the different countries of Latin America. This article focuses on exploring the characteristics of these two groups based on a qualitative research that focuses on the way in which individuals live their relationship with transcendence or with non belief in the city of Montevideo, Uruguay.

Quiénes son los ‘sin religión’ en Lima.
Catalina Romero, Veronique Lecaros

Abstract: In this article we ask about the 'nones' (non-religious) living in Lima, starting from the research data produced by our inquiry on transformations in lived religion in Latin American cities. The phenomenon of the 'none' becomes visible through surveys that ask for religious belonging, revealing the changes that occur in this space, where they join the atheists and agnostics, the unaffiliated, who can be believers without belonging to a religion, a population that is growing significantly. We present briefly those without religion, with common features that appear among people interviewed. Then, we address the case of atheists and agnostics. And finally, we treat the non-religious and disaffiliated from institutionalized communities, being believers with diverse religious practices.

Estudios de recorridos religiosos: los desafiliados en contexto
Véronique Lecaros

Abstract: Our purpose is to study disaffiliation as a step in a religious process. The literature on affiliation, conversion and disaffiliation (deconversion) shows that religious changes do not happen at random. Henri Gooren develops a valuable pattern to match this process of changes which he calls "conversion careers". Nonetheless, he admits that he has at his disposal very few Latin-American life stories to confirm his theory. In this article, we analyze Gooren's theory and suggest a few changes based on some Limenian cases. We consider that Gooren's pattern can be applied in a denominational protestant context and is useful to interpret catholic ecclesial movements. Nonetheless, the conversion career does not take into account two important phenomena: on the one hand, the modern tendency to deinstitutionalization which implies autonomy from religious institutions without a clear break, I.E. without disaffiliation and on the other hand traditional cultural Catholicism which corresponds to religious practices in which the institution plays a secondary role.


Journal for the Critical Research on Religion

An Enchanted Modernity: Making sense of Latin America’s religious landscape
Gustavo Morello SJ (Boston College),
Catalina Romero (Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú),
Hugo Rabbia (Universidad Católica de Córdoba – CONICET),
Néstor Da Costa (Universidad Católica del Uruguay)

Abstract: This is an interpretative, critical, and selective review of scholarly contributions that explore Latin America’s religious landscape. We present data, both qualitative and quantitative, from Latin America and analyze the explanations given to make sense of it. After assessing the literature that uses either secularization theory or the ‘religious economy’ approach, we study explanations that highlight a Latin American style of ‘popular religiosity.’ These three models, in different ways, put the emphasis on religious institutions—their vitality, commands, competition and authority. We propose, instead, a focus on the religious practices of regular believers. We speculate that embarking from that focus, the idea of an ‘enchanted modernity’ will help make sense of Latin America’s religious landscape. Nuanced elucidation of Latin America’s religious particularities will situate them in dialogue with other regions of the world, like Western Europe and the United States, while also acknowledging the fact that Latin America is experiencing a modernization process distinct from the North Atlantic one.


2018 Conferences

Conference, “The pope and the Poor”, UCC, Argentina. Morello and Rabbia. Abstract: Mientras que el papa Francisco ha dejado en claro que el orden capitalista no lo termina de convencer, muchas voces seculares, tradicionalmente críticas de la intervención religiosa en la esfera pública, han manifestado su apoyo. Pero, ¿Cómo perciben los pobres esas intervenciones? Basado en una muestra de 41 entrevistas a personas de clase baja, esta ponencia explora cómo los pobres entienden el rol de la religión y los líderes religiosos en la esfera pública argentina, más allá de las normativas secularistas o teológicas. El objetivo es indagar las distinciones que los sujetos realizan a la hora de establecer ‘espacios propios’ para la intervención papal en la vida pública del país.

Conference, “Atheist and believers without religion”, UCU, Uruguay. Da Costa and Morello July.

Abstract: Entre las distintas maneras que hay de estudiar lo religioso, la sociología se enfoca en la influencia de las religiones en la vida en común y de cómo las transformaciones en la vida social afectan la religiosidad de las personas. Aquí presento una mirada sociológica de la situación religiosa en Sudamérica. ¿Cómo afecta la modernidad a la religiosidad de los sudamericanos?

Conference ‘Non-Religious and Secular Network’, London, July 5-6, 2018; Exploring non-religion in South America; Da Costa and Rabbia. Da Costa presented.  Abstract: the paper explores and compares qualitative data, from 60 in-depth interviews among self-identified “non-affiliated” people from three cities in Latin America: Cordoba, Argentina; Lima, Peru, and Montevideo, Uruguay.  It is an intentional sub sample from a bigger project called “The Transformation of Lived Religion in Urban Latin America: A Study of Contemporary Latin-American’s experience of the Transcendent”. 

Conference Iberian-Latin American Political Psychology Congress, Valparaiso, Chile, October 12-14, 2018; Rabbia

Conference ‘Society for the Scientific Study of Religion’ Annual Meeting, Las Vegas, October 26-28, 2018; Morello presented “Francis symbolic power and the agency of the poor.” Abstract: This study states that exploring the limits established by regular believers to the efficacy of Pope Francis’ religious capital, we better understand how the agency of non-specialists operates in the religious field. In this presentation, I explore the paradox between Pope Francis’ remarkable success as a critic of global capitalism, and the limitations his religious leadership present in Argentina, his home country. While for some observer it might be obvious that the pope is powerful enough to influence people’s thinking about social and political matters, the findings of this paper highlight the role of “non-specialist” in setting limits of Francis’ religious power. Using Bourdieusian theory and a “lived religion” methodological approach, I explore the agency of the ordinary believer in the religious field. The research is based on a sample of semi-structured, in-depth interviews conducted in Córdoba, Argentina from November 2015 to December 2016. The subsample consists of 42 lower class interviewees, self-identified as Catholics, Evangelicals, Others, and Non-Affiliated.

Conference Jornadas de Alternativas Religiosas en América Latina, Santiago de Chile. November 14-17, 2018. Da Costa presented Uruguay, el país con más porcentaje de creyentes sin afiliación en América Latina. Una aproximación en perspectiva de "Religión Vivida" Abstrac: Un 24% de la población uruguaya se define a si misma como creyente en alguna forma de trascendencia en tanto que un 10% afirma ser ateos. Estas cifras son las más altas de América Latina. Esta presentación está orientada a explorar y caracterizar a dichos grupos sociales a partir de una investigación cualitativa que ha entrevistado a 80 personas en Montevideo explorando las formas de entender, aproximarse, significar y resignificar sus propias experiencias de búsqueda o negación de la trascendencia. Al mencionar la perspectiva de "Religión Vivida" se hace referencia un enfoque donde la aproximación al objeto de estudio es a través de la experiencia de las personas y no de las instituciones o líderes religiosos.

Confernece Jornadas de Alternativas Religiosas en América Latina, Santiago de Chile. November 14-17, 2018. Pereira Arena and Hugo Rabbia. Pereira Arena presented “Images of God among believers without a church and atheists from Cordoba and Montevideo”. Abstract: The present work explores the different images of God manifested by ‘believers without a church’ and atheists in the cities of Montevideo and Córdoba. For those who believe in God without belonging to a church or for those who do not believe in Him, there are certain configurations of how or what God is, or how his idea is rejected by the images that have been drawn about Him. We analyze images of God from the spiritual narratives of 49 people self-identify as without a religious affiliation (19 among people from Cordoba, 30, from Montevideo), from different social classes and ages. Data was obtained from in-depth interviews under the project “Transformation of lived religion in Latin America”, granted by J. Templeton Foundation. Results allow us to discuss different images of God, ultimate divinity or higher power, ideas that give more complexities to our perception of non-religious populations.

Confernece LASA, Barcelona, May 23-26, 2018; Pereira Arena and Brusoni presented: Individuals and faith spaces: the case of Uruguayan Catholics. Abstract: In this work we seek to put into discussion the relationship that Catholic believers maintain with the religious institution through their own notions of the spaces where transcendence is lived. Both in the case of Catholics that feel far from the institution and for those who still maintain a bond, the spaces for experiencing the religious are multiple and varied, and put the place of institutions in tension in their experiences of faith.

News Coverage, “La voz del Interior” Newspaper, Argentina. Morello

News Coverage, “No toquen nada” radio show, Uruguay. Da Costa and Morello

News Coverage, “Obsur”, Uruguay. Da Costa.

News coverage, La Nación Newspaper, Argentina. Morello

Public Seminar, Blog article, New York. Morello

News Coverage, “Vespertinas” TV show, Uruguay. Da Costa.ños-hab%C3%ADa-más-ateos-en-uruguay

News Coverage, “Hoy Dia Cordoba” Newspaper, Argentina. Morello

Salt and Light Media, Blog article, Canada. Morello

Revue Choisir, Blog article, Switzerland. Rabbia

Presentation of the Project main outcomes at the Universidad Católica del Uruguay. (2017)