Academic journal article Ethnologies

Establishing the John of God Movement in Australia: Healing, Hybridity and Cultural Appropriation

Academic journal article Ethnologies

Establishing the John of God Movement in Australia: Healing, Hybridity and Cultural Appropriation

Article excerpt

Joao de Deus (John of God) is a Brazilian faith healer who has been attracting a large number of followers outside his country. In the past decade, he has conducted international healing events in Germany, the US, and New Zealand, among others. As a consequence, John of God's story has been told in documentaries on North American, British, Australian, and New Zealand television. Many of these documentaries have been uploaded by followers on You Tube. Such global exposure has been accompanied by intense flows of people, ideas, and commodities between Casa de Dom Inacio (John of God's healing centre in Brazil) and these countries. In this paper, I track flows between Australia and Brazil. I argue that the position of Australia as a colonial-settler society, where the aboriginal population has suffered immense loss, entails a different understanding of John of God's particular brand of Spiritism. For many followers, the arrival of the 'entities' (spirits John of God incorporates) is perceived as a way to heal the wounds of the land. Such understanding is not found among Spiritists and John of God followers in Brazil, although the country also has a history of dispossession and suffering among indigenous peoples.

Joao de Deus (Jean de Dieu) est un medium-guerisseur bresilien qui a su attirer plusieurs adeptes a l'etranger. Durant la demiere decennie, il a organise a l'international des evenements de guerison entre autres en Allemagne, aux Etats-Unis et en Nouvelle-Zelande. Par consequent, des documentaires de l'histoire de Jean de Dieu ont ete diffuses dans les televisions nord-americaines, britanniques, australiennes et neozelandaises. Plusieurs de ces documentaires ont ete telecharges sur YouTube par des adeptes. Grace a cette exposition, un intense flux de personnes, d'idees et de commodites s'est deverse entre ces pays et la Casa Dom Inacio (centre de guerison de Jean de Dieu au Bresil). Dans cet article, l'auteure piste ces flux entre l'Australie et le Bresil. Elle soutient que les Australiens, qui demeurent une societe coloniale ou la population aborigene a souffert de pertes immenses, comprennent differemment l'empreinte particuliere du spiritisme de Jean de Dieu. Pour plusieurs adeptes, l'arrivee des << entites >> (esprits incorpores par Jean de Dieu) est percue comme une maniere de guerir les blessures de la terre. Une telle comprehension n'est pas partagee par les spiritualistes et les adeptes de Jean de Dieu au Bresil, en depit du fait que les populations indigenes de ce pays ont connu egalement dans leur histoire la depossession et les souffrances.

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In January 2008, I participated in the opening of the 'Australian Casa' in the town of Mullumbimby, on the north eastern coast of NSW. The Australian Casa is a branch of the Brazilian Spiritist centre Casa de Dom Inacio headed by the medium healer John of God in Abadiania, central Brazil. In the past decade, John of God has been attracting a large number of Western followers. They learn about him through books, DVDs, and websites, and by participating in the international healing events John of God has conducted in Germany, the US and New Zealand, among other countries. Such global exposure has been accompanied by intense flows of people, ideas, and commodities between Casa de Dom Inacio and these countries. So far, there are branches of the hea[ing centre in Australia and New Zealand (both established in 2008), and in the US (established in 2011). (2) The Australian Casa was created by Kurt and Karin,~ an Anglo-Australian middle-class couple who lived in Abadiania with their three children and participated in the activities of the Casa de Dom Inacio in the second half of 2007. In 2006 and 2007, John of God conducted international healing events in New Zealand that attracted many Australians. Kurt and Karin participated in the second event. There, the Entity--as followers call John of God when he is in trance because he is channelling an entity/spirit--told them that they should go to Abadiania. …

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