Maria José de Abreu

Maria José de Abreu

Research Sub-interest

Religion and Political Theory, Media and Technology, Materiality, Governance, Personhood


Brazil, Portugal


De Abreu’s work engages with a range of anthropological, philosophical, and literary debates about religion, temporality, movement, personhood, the human senses and their technological extensions. Her first book, The Charismatic Gymnasium: breath and extension in Contemporary Brazil, centers on a form of Catholic revivalism in contemporary urban São Paulo, Brazil (forthcoming with Duke University Press). A second project in progress is dedicated to thinking impasse as a condition intrinsic, though not exclusive, to neoliberal governance. Focusing on Portugal during and after the 2008 financial crisis, this second project is an attempt at theorizing from spaces of tension and performative paradox in ways that make decision—though not governance—difficult or impossible.

De Abreu’s ethnographic work has been supported by Fundação para Ciência e a Tecnologia, Lisbon, Forum for Transregional Studies, Berlin, ICI-Berlin, and Rework: Work and Human Lifecycle in Global History, at Humboldt University in Berlin.



University of Amsterdam, PhD in Anthropology, 2009

Forthcoming. The Charismatic Gymnasium: Evangelicalism and Extension in Contemporary Brazil. Durham: Duke University Press.

Forthcoming. “Theo-Politics, Elasticity. Theo-Politics in/of las Americas in Social Analysis.” International Journal of Anthropology.

2019. “Medium Theory; Or the War of the Words at Regular Intervals.” Current Anthropology 60, no. 5. Pp 650-673.

2018. “May Day Supermarket: Crisis, Impasse, Medium.” Critical Inquiry 44, no. 4: Pp 745–765.

2017. Coauthor with Charles Hirschkind and Carlo Caduff. “New Media, New Publics?” Introduction to supplement, Current Anthropology 58, no. 15: 3–12.

2015. "Still Passing: Crisis, Youth and the Political Economy of Fog in Limbo." Special issue, Scapegoat: Landscape, Architecture, Political Economy 8: 60–70. 

2015b. “Worldings: the Aesthetics of Authority Among Catholic Charismatics in Brazil. Journal of Culture and Religion 16, no. 2: 175–192.

2013. “Pessoa-lidade ou a Terra do Não Lugar da Performance.” In Terra do Não Lugar: Diálogos entre Antropologia e a Performance. Florianópolis: Universidade Federal Santa Catarina.

2013b. “Technological Indeterminacy: Threat, Medium, Temporality.” Anthropological Theory 13, no. 3: 267–284.

2012. “The Fedex Saints: Patrons of Mobility and Speed in the Neoliberal City.” In Things: Religion and the Question of Materiality. New York: Fordham University Press.

2012b. “TV-St. Claire.” In Deus in Machina: Exploring Religion, Technology and the Things in Between. New York: Fordham University Press.

2011. “Personhood in Frequencies.” Frequencies: A Collaborative Genealogy of Spirituality (website). 

2008. “Goose Bumps All Over: Breath, Media, Tremor.” Special issue, Social Text 26, no. 3: 59–78.

2002. “On Charisma, Mediation and Broken Screens.” Etnofoor xv, no. 1/2: 240–258.

Courses Taught


Selected Publications