THE POLITICAL AMBIGUITY OF LATIN AMERICAN POPULAR RELIGION
This article will present some historical cases, some ancient, some very recent, of how such ambiguity of the religious forces and popular religiosity has played in Latin America. Through this case we will analyze how and why in “the popular” the same cultural phenomena can play sometimes a very conservative role, and then, in others, turn into a menacing power to the traditional social order. On one hand, it is a way in which conservative hegemony has captured the potential and will of the masses and used it to domesticate its claims (opium of the people). But in other cases it has stimulated the dreams and hopes, and has provided unexpected vitality to the people in their search for justice and better living conditions. The traditional aboriginal (pre-conquest) religions and worldviews, as well as new religious experiences brought by the slave trade and migrations sometimes provided myths and images that reinforced the liberating thrust of religious forces.
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