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Reading: The Atlantic Return and the Payback of Evangelization


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The Atlantic Return and the Payback of Evangelization


Valentina Napolitano

University of Toronto, CA
About Valentina
Associate Professor
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This article explores Catholic, transnational Latin American migration to Rome as a gendered and ethnicized Atlantic Return, which is figured as a source of ‘new blood’ that fortifies the Catholic Church but which also profoundly unsettles it. I analyze this Atlantic Return as an angle on the affective force of history in critical relation to two main sources: Diego Von Vacano’s reading of the work of Bartolomeo de las Casas, a 16th-century Spanish Dominican friar; and to Nelson Maldonado-Torres’ notion of the ‘coloniality of being’ which he suggests has operated in Atlantic relations as enduring and present forms of racial de-humanization. In his view this latter can be counterbalanced by embracing an economy of the gift understood as gendered. However, I argue that in the light of a contemporary payback of evangelization related to the original ‘gift of faith’ to the Americas, this economy of the gift is less liberatory than Maldonado-Torres imagines, and instead part of a polyfaceted reproduction of a postsecular neoliberal affective, and gendered labour regime.

How to Cite: Napolitano, V., (2013). The Atlantic Return and the Payback of Evangelization. Religion and Gender. 3(2), pp.207–221. DOI:
Published on 02 Aug 2013.
Peer Reviewed


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