Book Announcement: Cristina Rocha

John of God: The Globalization of Brazilian Faith Healing  (OUP2017)  Cristina Rocha

This is the first ethnographic account of the global spiritual movement headed the Brazilian faith healer John of God, who has become an international faith healing superstar in the past decade. Renowned for performing surgeries using kitchen knives and scissors, without anesthetics or asepsis, John of God is visited by thousands of the desperately ill, the wealthy, celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Ram Daas, and Shirley MacLaine, and an increasing array of media. Drawing on a decade of fieldwork in Brazil, the US, the UK, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand, Cristina Rocha examines the social and cultural forces that have made it possible for a healer from Brazil to become a global “guru” in the 21st century. The book’s key themes are: the ways in which religion is both globalized and localized in late modernity, the establishment of transnational communities of belief, the transformation of poor rural areas into sites of globalization, the efficacy of healing across cultures, and the prominent place of healing (of the body, the spirit and the planet) and its intimate connection with spirituality and religion in late modernity.


“This is one of the most insightful and engaging accounts of spiritual healing in recent years. By focusing on one of the most intriguing spiritual healers of our time, Joao de Deus, Rocha illuminates the enduring relevance, despite significant secularization in the West, of curing through faith. This book belongs on the top shelf of everyone interested in 21st-century religion, spirituality and globalization.”

R. Andrew Chesnut, author of Devoted to Death: Santa Muerte, the Skeleton Saint.

Table of Contents




Ch 1: Meeting John of God: an Uneasy Beginning

Ch 2: How does He Get His Magic?

Ch 3: Re-enchanting Healing

Ch 4: Abadiania as a Touristic Borderzone

Ch 5: Spiritual Tourism, Cultural Translation, and Friction

Ch 6: Flows into the Global North: Building a Transnational Spiritual Community

Ch 7: Localizing Flows: Healing the Land of its Suffering