From Fanatics to Folk
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS At key moments in my life when I finally made the right decision or took the appropriate move, my father would playfully inquire, "What took you so long?" Were he alive today, my father might well pose this same question on the appearance of this book.The most professionally expedient step would have been to transform my 1976 dissertation on the Pedro Batista millenarian movement immediately into a book. At that time my research on popular religiosity in Brazil was arguably
... l was arguably ahead of its day, but it failed to adequately explore the ways in which millenarianism was engaged with the state, church, and larger social forces. Realizing that I lacked the tools to move in these directions, I chose to publish several articles on millenarianism and defer the task of writing a more integrated and comparative study of the Pedro Batista movement. In the meantime I set my sights on a very different topic: international migration and refugee movements in the Americas. During the long hiatus I continued to mull over solutions to the questions and challenges posed by my 1970s Brazilian research.The three people to whom I dedicate this book proved invaluable to this decades-long pursuit. Each in her or his own way has been an inspiration and advocate. Maria das Dores dos Santos (Dona Dodô) was the leader of the millenarian community of Santa Brígida when I first arrived in 1973. She is referred to by most of her followers as madrinha (godmother) Dodô. Certainly in her kindness, willingness to mentor, and unparalleled graciousness, she has been in every way a godmother to me and my project. This book documents and celebrates her remarkable life. The second person who shepherded this project is my mother Irene Oberfield Pessar. She, along with my father, displayed nothing but support and enthusiasm as their twenty-four-year-old daughter headed off to a remote village in Northeast Brazil, a spot that most Brazilians dismissively labeled "o fim do Joaquim . To them and many others in Northeast Brazil who have shared their knowledge, deep convictions, and unstinting hospitality with me, I say, "Deus lhe paguem."