Research Title : Brazil's Changing Religious Landscape: Ethnographic Insights
Sarah Leiter, a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology, traveled to Brasilia and Fortaleza, Brazil in 2018 to conduct exploratory research in emerging Jewish communities there. She examined how the emergence of these Jewish communities calls into question historically informed understandings of religious conversion, Brazilian society, and social identity more broadly. Her research addresses major gaps in anthropological literature on Brazilian Jewishness, specifically the lack of literature on Brazilian Jews who are not descended from Jewish immigrants and collective religious conversion outside of missionization or colonial projects. Through her work, she challenges assumptions about religious identification and collective religious conversions, calling into question anthropological understandings of identity more broadly.