MLDO intern to present on Afro-Religion in Latin America

05/04/2021 

The SUNY Cortland campus community is invited to join a discussion of the adaptations of many religions in Latin America.

Maria Klara Ventura, an Multicultural Life and Diversity Office intern and junior dual major in international studies and anthropology, will facilitate this seminar, “Afro-Religion in Latin America,” on Wednesday, May 5. This event starts at 6 p.m. via WebEx. It is free and does not require advance registration.

“There isn’t much attention to Afro-descent Latin issues,” said Ventura. “There is a lack of representation.”

According to the Pew Research Center, more than 425 million Catholics live in Latin America, nearly 40% of the total Catholic population in the world. Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Brazilian and indigenous religions are practiced by many Latin Americans, even by those who identify as Catholic or Protestant.

“A lot of these religions broke away from tradition and combined them with the Catholic religion,” said Ventura.

Ventura, who was born in Brazil and moved to California at age 12, was raised Catholic and did not always know the details of Afro-descent religions in Latin America. In her community, there was a bias against these religions because they were wrongly viewed as satanic or related to devil worship. Through conversations with her family and her studies in preparing for this event, Ventura now has a deeper understanding and appreciation of the indigenous religions.

“I want people to understand that when they see someone of Latin descent dancing in the street, it’s nothing of the devil, it’s just religion,” said Ventura.

Ventura will present on several specific religions and after each one there will be time for discussion. Attendees can ask questions at any point of the presentation.

“Afro-religions are just so beautiful”, said Ventura. “They [Afro-descent Latins] fought so long to survive and keep the culture alive, even after so many centuries and so many things that they went through.”

For more information about this event, email the Multicultural Life and Diversity Office or visit the Multicultural Life and Diversity Office’s website.

Prepared by Communications Office writing intern Chelsea Grate