If I Give My Soul: Pentecostalism in the Prisons of Rio
Andrew Johnson, Filmmaker and Co-Director
Laura Graham, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Iowa
Film Screening and Discussion
The documentary If I Give My Soul began the day that co-director Andrew Johnson checked into a Brazilian prison, where he would spend two weeks living as an inmate. He ate the same food, slept in the same cells and went through the routines as if he were incarcerated in an effort to see prison from an inmate’s perspective. During this process, Andrew was brought face-to-face with two powerful forces in the prisons: narco-trafficking gangs, and Pentecostal Christianity.
Andrew Johnson is research associate at the Center for Religion and Civic Culture (CRCC) at the University of Southern California. He received his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Minnesota in 2012 and spent the following year as a visiting scholar at the Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton University. Before entering the doctoral program at Minnesota, Johnson served as Foreign Service Officer at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and worked at the U.S. Embassies in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and Brasilia, Brazil. Prior to that, he worked with at-risk youth in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Sao Paulo, Brazil. Johnson is currently working on a book manuscript and documentary film on Pentecostalism inside of prison in Rio de Janeiro and is a part of CRCC’s Religious Competition and Creative Innovation research team.
Laura R. Graham is an anthropologist and filmmaker whose focuses on politics of indigenous representation to broad publics among indigenous peoples of lowland South America. She has conducted extensive ethnographic fieldwork among the Xavante of central Brazil and Wayuu of Venezuela and Colombia focusing on language use in national and international arena, notions of cultural consciousness, cultural and intellectual property, and representations of indigeneity in politics and advocacy, indigenous media and human rights. Her work promotes engaged ethnography and participant advocacy. She is author of the award-winning book, Performing Dreams: Discourses of Immortality Among the Xavante Indians of Central Brazil (University of Texas Press, 1995) and has published many articles on Xavante and Wayuu. Her work on Xavante oral culture has been featured on the NPR Program Pulse of the Planet. Graham’s latest book (with H. Glenn Penny), Performing Indigeneity: Global Histories and Contemporary Experiences, came out in 2014 with University of Nebraska Press. She is producer and co-director, with David Hernández-Palmar and Caimi Waiassé, of the award-winning film Owners of the Water: Conflict and Collaboration Over Rivers (Documentary Educational Resources, 2009).