Archive for October, 2011

Scherer, “Landmarks in the Critical Study of Secularism”

October 24, 2011

Scherer, Matthew. 2011. Landmarks in the Critical Study of Secularism. Cultural Anthropology 26(4):621-632.

Abstract: This essay sets the contemporary problematic of secularism in a critical frame by posing six key questions: Why is it so difficult—perhaps impossible—to reach a scholarly, much less political, consensus on the significance of “secularism”? What are the implications of mounting pressures within Euro-American discourses to tie secularism ever more closely to Christianity? Insofar as secularism is historically constituted through (a contentious and incomplete) exclusion of religion, can the contours of this contested formation be traced more clearly by drawing on an archive of theological figures, such as that of conversion? If secularism cannot be understood as simply coextensive with modernity, what are the limits of the secular? To what extent does political pluralism presuppose and depend on some notion or formation of the secular? And finally, within the shifting patterns of our world today, what are the most salient connections among secularism, nation, state, and capital?

Goluboff, “Making African American Homeplaces”

October 24, 2011

Goluboff, Sascha L. 2011. Making African American Homeplaces in Rural Virginia. Ethos 39(3):368-394.

Abstract: In this article, I propose that anthropologists of Christianity broaden their understanding of emotion to include intense attachments to home and kin as central to cultivating faith. I use examples from my research with African Americans who continue to live on land purchased by their emancipated ancestors and attend a United Methodist church established by those same ancestors in rural Western Virginia. I suggest that theoretical attention to this worldly home, as well as to God, is key to understanding the process of belief. It opens up the possibility of seeing emotional connection as a catalyst for political awareness and change, and it also brings gender and generational relations into sharp focus. Ultimately, I argue that the maintenance of such African American religious and secular homeplaces works to challenge the legacies of racism in the rural South.

Knibbe, “Nigerian Missionaries in Europe”

October 18, 2011

Knibbe, Kim (2011) Nigerian Missionaries in Europe: History Repeating Itself or a Meeting of Modernities? Journal of Religion in Europe, 4(3): 471-487

Abstract: This article discusses the question how to construct a vantage point from which to study the phenomenon of Nigerian missionaries in Europe. When theoretical frameworks extrapolating from the history of religion in western Europe are used to understand a religious network that originated in Nigeria, Nigerian missionaries and missionaries from the Global South inevitably appear as a case of history repeating itself and even as ‘premodern.’ In contrast, Africanist literature provides an understanding of the ways in which oppositions between tradition and modernity are constructed and used in Nigerian Pentecostalism that is very different. This literature however, does not provide ways to engage with the European contexts in which Nigerian missionaries operate. Therefore the article suggests that the encounter between Nigerian missionaries and European contexts might be most fruitfully conceptualized as a ‘meeting of modernities’ (inspired by Eisenstadt’s notion of ‘multiple modernities’), each implying a ‘denial of coevalness.’

Blanes, “Double Presence”

October 18, 2011

Blanes, Ruy Llera (2011) “Double Presence: Proselytism and Belonging in an Angolan Prophetic Church’s Diaspora in Europe” Journal of Religion in Europe, 4(3):409-428

Abstract: This article discusses the issue of proselytism and belonging among Angolan Christians in Europe, namely those belonging to the Tokoist Church, a propheticbased movement originated in Angola in the 1940s and later transnationalized into other African countries and Europe. Invoking fieldwork performed with the church in Lisbon and Luanda, I suggest that religious proselytism in diasporic contexts, as an expression of transnational religiosity, cannot be analyzed without approaching the issue of identity and belonging, which in turn is processed through the production of ‘double presences,’ a reflection of the multiple agencies and territorialities in which migrants are involved.

Althouse and Wilkinson “The Many Faces of Canadian Pentecostalism”

October 18, 2011

Peter Althouse  & Michael Wilkinson (2011) “The Many Faces of Canadian Pentecostalism” Canadian Journal of Pentecostal-Charismatic Christianity 2(1):i-iv.

First Paragraph: “The myth of Azusa Street is one that asserts that people from all over the world, of different races, ethnicities, genders, languages, cultures and classes came together in unity in the outpouring of the Spirit where everyone has a voice in glossolalic utterance. Myth is a powerful cultural symbol for affording Pentecostals a sense of place and equality in religious and social contexts, but a myth none- theless; not because the multicultural context of the early days of Pentecost was untrue—the historical records show that Azusa Street was multiracial and multiethnic with William Seymour, the son of emancipated African- American slaves taking a prominent role in the revival’s leadership and evidence of Latino/a inclusion in the re- vival; but myth because the ideal of equality and racial reconciliation quickly collapsed in the early history of Pentecostalism. Despite the diverse cultural representation of Azusa, where marginalized voices could be heard and allowed to participate in the revival, Pentecostal institu- tions quickly accommodated to the dominate culture, seg- regated blacks and whites, assert a patriarchal power structure that denied women ministerial status, marginal- ized the voices of other ethnicities and cultural groups, and placed white Anglo-Saxon males in authority.”



Maier & Coleman, “Who Will Tend the Vine?”

October 18, 2011

Maier, Katrin and Coleman, Simon (2011) ‘Who Will Tend the Vine? Pentecostalism, Parenting and the Role of the State in “London-Lago”‘  Journal of Religion in Europe 4(3):450-470 

Abstract: We explore the tensions evident among Nigerian Pentecostals in London between social and ideological insularity on the one hand, and a more outward-oriented, expansive orientation on the other. Analysis of these stances is complemented by the exploration of believers’ actions within a material but also metaphorical arena that we term “London-Lagos.“ Such themes are developed specifically through a focus on believers’ relations with Nigerian and British state systems in relation to child-rearing—an activity that renders parents sometimes dangerously visible to apparatuses of the state but also raises key dilemmas concerning the proper and moral location of socialisation into Christian values. We show how such dilemmas are embodied in a play, written by a Nigerian Pentecostalist, termed “The Vine-Keepers.“

Di Bella, “Glossolalia and Possession among Pentecostal groups of the Mezzogiorno”

October 16, 2011

Di Bella, Maria Pia “Glossolalia and Possession among Pentecostal groups of the Mezzogiorno” (translated by Olga Koepping) in Elizabeth Koepping (ed.), World Christianity, London, Routledge (Critical concepts in Religious Studies), 2011, vol. 2, pp. 307-320.

Excerpt: “This study of the emergence of the new doctrine within a rural environment started at Accadia in Apulia, a centre for Oneness Pentecostalism, and later extended to other villages where this doctrine developed . . . Moreover, a comparison has been drawn with certain Trinitarian Pentecostal groups in the neighbouring Apulian towns of Anzano and Monteleone. The introduction of Pentecostalism and its development in a rural environment clearly followed the same pattern in these different locations. Three distinct phases could be discovered in the process, each marked by resistance to rural local values . . . “

Han, “If You Don’t Work, You Don’t Eat”

October 15, 2011

Han, Ju Hi Judy (2011) ‘“If You Don’t Work, You Don’t Eat”: Evangelizing Development in Africa.’ In New Millennium South Korea: Neoliberal Capital and Transnational Movements, ed. Jesook Song. London: Routledge.

Excerpt:  Work or else starve – these unkind words were uttered partly out of frustration. Two South Korean Christian missionaries from Global Mission Frontier (GMF) were presenting a week-long economic development seminar to approximately 30 local government officials and municipal employees crowded inside a modest hotel room in Mwanza, Tanzania. The seminar leader, Deacon Shin, had begun by introducing himself as hailing from the prosperous land of Samsung and the LG Group (two of the world’s biggest conglomerates) but he failed to impress – the participants had never heard of these corporate brands. “How about Hyndai?” Deacon Shin asked in disbelief. “You must surely have seen all the Hyundai advertising during the World Cup?” Apparently not. Deacon Shin shook his head in dismay, and explained that there are large, powerful companies from Korea, and that their very success stands as proof of the miracle of Korean economic development . . . It was then that Deacon Shin suddenly instructed everyone to stand up and stretch  – and shout after him, “You don’t work, you don’t eat!” When some chuckled, he said firmly, “This is in the Bible!” and pointed to the Bible in his hand. Indeed, there it was in Second Thessalonians of the New Testament: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” He explained that this verse captured the key to Korea’s economic miracle, and rallied the class in fist-pumping chants for several minutes: “No work, no eat! No work, no eat!”




Cao “Constructing China’s Jerusalem”

October 15, 2011

Cao, Nanlai (2011) Constructing China’s Jerusalem: Christians, Power, and Place in Contemporary Wenzhou. Stanford: Stanford University Press

Publisher’s Description: Drawing on extensive ethnographic fieldwork and in-depth life history interviews, this illuminating book provides an intimate portrait of contemporary Chinese Christianity in the context of a modern, commercialized economy. In vivid detail, anthropologist Nanlai Cao explores the massive resurgence of Protestant Christianity in the southeastern coastal city of Wenzhou—popularly referred to by its residents as “China’s Jerusalem”—a nationwide model for economic development and the largest urban Christian center in China.

Cao’s study of Chinese Christians delves into the dynamics of activities such as banqueting, network building, property acquisition, mate selection, marriage ritual, migrant work, and education. Unlike previous research that has mainly looked at older, rural, and socially marginalized church communities, Cao trains his focus on economically powerful, politically connected, moralizing Christian entrepreneurs. In framing the city of Wenzhou as China’s Jerusalem, newly rich Chinese Christians seek not only to express their leadership aspirations in a global religious movement but also to assert their place, identity, and elite status in post-reform Chinese society.

Jindra, Michael & Joël Noret “Funerals in Africa”

October 13, 2011

Jindra, Michael & Joël Noret, eds., (2011) Funerals in Africa: Exploration of a Social Phenomenon. Oxford and New York: Berghahn Books

Publisher’s Description: Across Africa, funerals and events remembering the dead have become larger and even more numerous over the years. Whereas in the West death is normally a private and family affair, in Africa funerals are often the central life cycle event, unparalleled in cost and importance, for which families harness vast amounts of resources to host lavish events for multitudes of people with ramifications well beyond the event. Though officials may try to regulate them, the popularity of these events often makes such efforts fruitless, and the elites themselves spend tremendously on funerals. This volume brings together scholars who have conducted research on funerary events across sub-Saharan Africa. The contributions offer an in-depth understanding of the broad changes and underlying causes in African societies over the years, such as changes in religious beliefs, social structure, urbanization, and technological changes and health.

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