ABOUT ME - Maria Lionza
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Biografía de Roger Canals

Anthropology, Cinema, and Afro-American Religions

Born in Barcelona in 1980, I am an anthropologist, specialised in visual and religious anthropology. I am currently working in the department of social anthropology at the Universitat de Barcelona. I hold a PhD in Anthropology from the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris and the University of Barcelona. I have been appointed Honorary Staff member at the University of Manchester and a visiting fellow at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris and at the Instituto de Estudios del Caribe in Puerto Rico.

I have published numerous articles, mainly focused on the cult of María Lionza in Venezuela and visual anthropology. I have also created various ethnographic documentaries on the cult of María Lionza and other themes which you can look up on this website.


Cinema is my passion. I love holding a camera, discovering reality while I film. Cinema enables me to have a singular approach toward social reality. It is not only a matter of recording, but of seeing the world differently.


What I love most about anthropology is its double faceted nature: both specific and universal, practical and theoretical. I particularly enjoy field work, immersing myself in a cultural context that is unknown to me or observing in a way that we are not used to on a daily basis.


Teaching is a way to learn and continue research. At present I am teaching visual anthropology and anthropology of art at the Universitat de Barcelona, and I run a course about theoretical debates on contemporary anthropology. I am also coordinator of the Master’s Degree in Anthropology and Ethnography at the Universitat de Barcelona.


I do not consider producing documentaries and writing as two antagonistic activities, but rather, as complementary exercises. For the most part, my articles are about the cult of María Lionza and visual anthropology. I have also published articles about the theory of ritual and traditional celebrations in Catalonia.


This is the first time that I have taken on the challenge of creating a website. It is a means of communication which has a great potential for anthropology and social science as a whole. It serves as a means of creatively mixing texts, images and sounds.


Religion is a classic topic of anthropology. Today, religions continue to play a central role in contemporary society. I am particularly interested in the cult of María Lionza and what are known as “Afro-American religions”.

Selected filmography

In the VIDEOS section you will be able to view all the documentaries that I have produced on the cult of María Lionza. You will also find works based on other topics.

1 Rostros de una divinidad venezolana

The many faces of a Venezuelan goddess (2007)


Bea wants to know (2010)


The man who loved books. Homage to JR Llobera (2015)

Several individuals belonging to very different social circles in Venezuela maintain particular links with the image of María Lionza.

Bea, a young Puerto Rican university student, goes to see Pedro, a medium from San Juan, who will encourage her to take part in a spiritual cleansing ritual to expel bad energies which prevent her from feeling fulfilled.

This documentary is an introduction to the life and work of the anthropologist Josep Ramon Llobera (1939–2010).

Selected Bibliography

In the TEXTS section you will be able to view all the articles and book chapters that I have written on the cult of María Lionza.

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You may also be interested


Ethnographic Films about María Lionza


Images from the fieldwork


Academic articles académicos


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