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Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Indiana University

I am an Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis. I earned a Ph.D. in the History of Religions at the University of Chicago and have been conducting field research on religion in Brazil since 1997.

I have published numerous articles about popular religions in Brazil in diverse venues, from scholarly books and journals to media outlets with a more general readership.

My first book Holy Harlots: Femininity, Sexuality, and Black Magic in Brazil (University of California Press, 2011), focused on devotion to the popular but controversial spirit entity known as Pomba Gira. Reputed to be a harlot's spirit, Pomba Gira is associated with the satisfaction of illicit desires. The book uses Pomba Gira's controversial nature to discuss the intersection of morality and magic in Brazil while exploring the life of Nazaré da Silva, a devotee of the spirit.

Currently I am writing a book about the Valley of the Dawn, an alternative Brazilian religion known for its colorful rituals and imaginative synthesis of elements drawn from Christianity, Spiritualism, Afro-Brazilian religions, and various esoteric traditions.


  • –present
    Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Lilly Family School of Philanthropy


  • 2004 
    University of Chicago, History of Religions