Dr George St Clair

Dr George St Clair has a background in both archaeology and anthropology, and received his PhD in anthropology from LSE in 2011. He has lived and conducted archaeological research in Mexico, Belize, the USA and Peru, and since 2005 he carried out his PhD field research in São Paulo, Brazil. His current ethnographic work focuses on how religious ethics contribute to a sense of individual and group identity, and in a broad sense it explores how ideals can influence and structure people's material lives. His work in the city of São Paulo focussed on people in a traditional, austere, but very large Pentecostal church. It examines how they manage strict moral and behavioural codes in the midst of living and working in Brazil's largest city – a place full of striking contrasts in lifestyle, and of extreme social inequalities. His PhD thesis shows how seemingly puritanical religious practice can actually be as 'Brazilian' as better known cultural elements such as carnaval or Afro-Brazilian religion. It also concludes that seeking a separation between religious and practical life can be an effective strategy for dealing with, and thriving, in a globalised, pluralistic society.