Alternative and new religious movements in Brazil; spirit healing; lived religion and ethnography; sensory and material culture; ritual, imagination, and altered states of consciousness

1991: B.A. Honors at University of Wisconsin-Madison (Non-Western Religions)

1996: M.A. at University of Chicago (Religious Studies)

2002-present: Professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University-Indianapolis

2004: Ph.D. at University of Chicago (History of Religions) 

2005: National Endowment for the Humanities (summer institute fellow)

2009: Fulbright-Hays Group Project Abroad (Kenya), United States Department of State

2012: Fulbright American Scholar (Brazil), United States Department of State

Kelly E. Hayes is Professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University-Indianapolis. She earned a Ph.D. in the History of Religions at the University of Chicago and has been conducting field research on religion in Brazil since 1997. The author of Holy Harlots: Femininity, Sexuality, and Black Magic in Brazil (University of California Press, 2011) as well as numerous scholarly articles, her scholarship explores how people imagine, invoke, and materialize various otherworldly beings, from the African-derived orixás of Candomblé and the folk spirits of Umbanda to the highly evolved extraterrestrials central to the Valley of the Dawn, one of Brazil’s fastest growing new religions. The Valley is known for its colorful rituals and imaginative synthesis of elements drawn from Christianity, Spiritism, Afro-Brazilian religions, and esoteric philosophies. It is the subject of Hayes’s latest book, Spirits of the Space Age: Materializing the Otherworld in Brazil’s Valley of the Dawn (Oxford University Press, in press). As a historian of religion who works ethnographically, Hayes is interested in the processes through which certain kinds of beliefs, behaviors, bodies, and desires become normative while others are rendered marginal or even unthinkable. She studies forms of human cultural production that outsiders label as “cults” or “black magic” – that is, ways of engaging the supernatural that are deemed illegitimate – and the communities that form around them.


Hayes, Kelly E. (in press). Spirits of the Space Age: Materializing the Otherworld in Brazil’s Valley of the Dawn. New York: Oxford University Press. 

Hayes, Kelly E. (2011). Holy Harlots. Femininity, Sexuality, and Black Magic in Brazil. Berkeley: University of California Press.  


Select Book Chapters  

Hayes, Kelly E. (2022). “The High Magic of Jesus Christ: Materializing Secrets in Brazil’s Valley of the Dawn.” In Handbook of Religion and Secrecy, edited by Paul C. Johnson and Hugh Urban. London: Routledge.  

Hayes, Kelly E. (2021). “Spirits of the Space Age: The Valley of the Dawn as a UFO Religion.” In Handbook of UFO Religions, edited by Benjamin Zeller, 425-451. Leiden: Brill. 

Hayes, Kelly E. (2018). “Where Men are Knights and Women are Princesses: Gender Ideology in Brazil’s Valley of the Dawn.” In Irreverence and the Sacred: Critical Studies in the History of Religions edited by Greg Johnson and Hugh Urban, 197-226. New York: Oxford University Press.   

Hayes, Kelly E. (2016). “Women and Religion in Contemporary Brazil.” In Brill Handbook of Contemporary Religions in Brazil, edited by Steven Engler and Bettina Schmidt, 395-430. Leiden: Brill. 

Hayes, Kelly E. (2009). “Serving the Spirits, Healing the Person: Women in Afro-Brazilian Religions.” In Women and New and Africana Religion, edited by Lillian Ashcraft-Eason, Darnise Martin, & Oyeronke Olademo, 101-122. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.  

Hayes, Kelly E. (2007). “Macumba Has Invaded All Spheres: Africanity, Black Magic, and the Study of Afro-Brazilian Religions.” In The African Diaspora and the Study of Religion, edited by Theodore Trost, 167–189. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.  


Select Journal Articles  

Hayes, Kelly E. (2020). “Western Esotericism in Brazil: The Influence of Esoteric Thought on the Valley of the Dawn.” Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions, 23(3), 60-85. 

Hayes, Kelly E. (2019). “I am a Psychic Antenna: The Art of Joaquim Vilela.” Black Mirror, 2, 144-177.  

Hayes, Kelly E. (2013). “Intergalactic Space-Time Travelers: Envisioning Globalization in Brazil’s Valley of the Dawn.” Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions, 16(4), 63-92.  

Hayes, Kelly E. (2008). “Wicked Women and Femmes fatales: gender, power, and pomba gira in Brazil.” History of Religions, 48(1), 1–21.  

Hayes, Kelly E. (2007). “Black Magic and the Academy: Macumba and Afro-Brazilian ‘Orthodoxies.’” History of Religions, 46(4), 283–315.  


Encyclopedia articles 

Hayes, Kelly E. (2019). “Sexuality and Black Magic in Brazil.” In The Oxford Encyclopedia of Brazilian History and Culture, edited by William Beezley. New York: Oxford University Press. 

Hayes, Kelly E. (in press). “Vale do Amanhecer.” In Brill Dictionary of Contemporary Esotericism, edited by Egil Asprem. Leiden: Brill.  

Hayes, Kelly E. (2019). “Neiva Chaves Zelaya, aka Aunt Neiva (Tia Neiva).” Women in the World’s Religions and Spirituality Project  

Hayes, Kelly E. (2015). “Valley of the Dawn.” World Religions and Spiritualities Project 


Documentary film  

Crouch, Catherine and Hayes, Kelly E. (2010). Slaves of the Saints: Afro-Brazilian Religions in Rio de Janeiro.  

Research Project at CAS-E