Erin Frias


Academic Interests: Cultural anthropology, African diaspora, Afro-Brazilian religion, spirit possession (incorporation), language, colonialism, online communities, new age media, traditional medicine, sub-cultures and counter-cultures

Status: MA

Previous Degrees: BA with Honors distinction (2011) University of Nevada, Reno

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Biography: Erin is a second year master's student researching the Afro-Brazilian religion of Umbanda. During the summers of 2013 and 2014, she traveled to Belém, Brazil to carry out fieldwork within an Afro-Brazilian religious center. She is focusing her thesis on the concept of proximity and distance to deities who possess mediums in order to help humans negotiate the material world and prepare themselves for reincarnation and spiritual evolution. Erin will identify how community identity, spirit hierarchy, beliefs in the afterlife, and possession make the spiritual world accessible. Her undergraduate research was centered on ayahuasca an indigenous medicine of the Amazon basin re-contextualized to fit within the contemporary Western medicine framework.

Erin is a recipient of the 2010 Splatt Scholarship, 2010 General Undergraduate Research Award, and the Southern California Alumni Scholarship. She has been a teaching assistant for ANTH 101and Anthropology/English 281, as well as, the President and Vice President of Bate Papo: Brazilian language and culture club recognized by the Graduate Student Association. She is currently a member of BOASgrad, the UNR graduate student anthropology club.