Religious Studies in Latin America

Renée De La Torre, Eloisa Martín

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


This article critically reviews recent contributions to religious research in Latin America. Social scientists have long considered religion to be a structuring feature of culture and local society. Owing to the centrality of Catholicism in Latin America, early studies privileged the political influences of the Catholic Church with respect to the state and society at large. The "otherness" of native folk religions received less attention, with scholars undervaluing the presence of indigenous and African religiosities. In Latin America, religions are currently experiencing a diversification and reconfiguration, owing in part to the growing influence of different Christian denominations, particularly Evangelical and Pentecostal churches. Religious change is also occurring at the margins of institutional churches through New Age, neo-pagan, neo-Indian, neo-esoteric, and self-styled religiosities, as well as through popular religious syncretisms, indicating new experiments with what is considered sacred. This dynamism poses theoretical and conceptual challenges to scholars analyzing religious diversity and the renewed role that religions play in contemporary societies with respect to secularization, syncretism, and hybridization as well as the emergence of alternative identities (gender, sexual, ideological and political).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473-492
Number of pages20
JournalAnnual Review of Sociology
Publication statusPublished - Jul 30 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Catholicism
  • Diversity
  • Latin America
  • Popular religion
  • Religion
  • Secularization
  • Syncretism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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