The Arab community in Brazil comprises an estimated 4–6 million immigrants and their descendants and was created by an almost continuous flux of immigrants from the Middle East (Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine) since the nineteenth century. While until the 1970s the Arab immigrants were Christians in their great majority, since the 1980s most immigrants from the Middle East are Muslims. The Muslim community in Brazil has about 1 million members today. The Muslim presence is almost exclusively urban, with important communities in São Paulo, Foz do Iguaçu, Curitiba, and, to a lesser extent, Rio de Janeiro. The vast majority of Muslims in Brazil are Arab Middle Eastern immigrants from Syria, Lebanon, and the Palestinian Territories or their descendants. There are also some African immigrants (from Senegal and Nigeria) and a small but growing number of Brazilian converts without any Muslim or Arab ancestry. Arab Muslim communities and identities in Brazil are formed by very complex articulations between transnational and local interpretations and practices of Islam and Arab identities, which emerge and gain reality within the cultural and sociological framework of each locality. Therefore, this article aims to analyze the constitution of Muslim identities among Arabic-speaking immigrants and their descendants in Brazil, showing how the relation between Arab ethnicity and Muslim identity is shaped by processes that connect local, national, and transnational realities.
Arab Ethnicity and Diasporic Islam: A Comparative Approach to Processes of Identity Formation and Religious Codification in the Muslim Communities in Brazil
Paulo G. Pinto; Arab Ethnicity and Diasporic Islam: A Comparative Approach to Processes of Identity Formation and Religious Codification in the Muslim Communities in Brazil. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 1 August 2011; 31 (2): 312–330. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/1089201X-1264253
Download citation file: