Archive for November, 2011

Introducing two new Anthrocybib co-curators: Anthony Shenoda and Naomi Haynes

November 26, 2011

Hello all –

This is just a brief break from the usual Anthrocybib format to introduce two new ‘co-curators’ who have recently joined this website: Anthony Shenoda and Naomi Haynes. Given their wide reading habits, and their familiarity with the literature addressing Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America, they’ll be an invaluable addition to our team!


Tocheva, “Crafting Ethics”

November 22, 2011

Tocheva, Detelina. 2011. Crafting Ethics: The Dilemma of Almsgiving in Russian Orthodox Churches. Anthropological Quarterly 84(4): 1011-1034.

Abstract: With the liberalization of religious practices after the fall of the Soviet regime in Russia, almsgiving to beggars in Russian Orthodox churches has become one of the most widespread forms of Orthodox charity. However, the priests are faced with an ethical dilemma: should they be charitable with beggars or should they sanction those who do not live according to certain moral standards? This article examines how Orthodox priests interact with different groups of beggars and how they create ethical ways of acting. It proposes that contemporary Russian Orthodox ethics are multi-referential, anchored in historicity, relatedness, interaction, and creative reasoning.

Van Fleet, “On Devils and the Dissolution of Sociality”

November 22, 2011

Van Fleet, Krista E. 2011. On Devils and the Dissolution of Sociality: Andean Catholics Voicing Ambivalence in Neoliberal Bolivia. Anthropological Quarterly 84(4): 835-864.

Abstract: In the Andean highlands of Bolivia, people sometimes express their ambivalence over the religious conversion of family and community members through stories about evangelical Protestants who have been possessed by Santuku or the devil. The article analyzes these narratives as part of a larger genre of devil stories and as a window onto the multiple ways Andean Catholics link migration, religious conversion, and death in the context of broader neoliberal transformations. From the perspective of those “left behind”—Catholic family and community members—conversion empties the future. Nevertheless, the necessary labor of dissolving or reconfiguring social relationships is undertaken by both Catholics and evangelical Protestants and sheds light on the production of sociality in 21st century Bolivia.

Gross, “Changing Faith”

November 21, 2011

Gross, Toomas. 2011. Changing Faith: the social costs of Protestant conversion in rural Oaxaca. Ethnos 76(4):1-28.

Abstract: This article discusses conversion to Protestantism in the Zapotec communities of the State of Oaxaca in Southern Mexico. Conversion to Protestantism in these predominantly  Catholic villages has a rupture effect on converts’ relationships with their families as well as the Catholic majority. This transformation can be interpreted as a ‘social cost,’ which influences religious choices made by individuals and the sustainability of their new religious affiliations. The cost is generally higher for native villagers than for migrants to the communities. Focusing on the adverse effects of conversion and scrutinizing the choices of individuals who do not convert or who return to their previous faith contributes to a more nuanced understanding of religious change. The process if often far more complex and multi-directional at the local level than macro-level trends of rapid Protestant growth suggest.

Jackson, “God’s law indeed is there to protect you from yourself”

November 15, 2011

Jackson, Jennifer (2011) ” ‘God’s law indeed is there to protect you from yourself’: The Christian personal testimonial as narrative and moral schemata to the US political apology” Language and Communication [No pagination; advanced corrected proof version]

Abstract: This paper examines the deployment of semiotic devices in several mass-mediated public apologies by US politicians and the reflexive awareness of apology as commodity in national political contexts. Beyond acts of contrition and deliverance from the clutches of sin, apology events are extremely dialogical, salient modes of sociality that reach across, arbitrate, and bond multiple publics. The paper examines how speakers toggle between particular chronotopes—of time, place, and personhood—to both shape and reflect particular presentation and participation frameworks. Of certain interest is how the Protestant testimonial informs the apology, makes way for, even necessitates future transgression as it shifts proximity between the sin of the Lost and the testimony of the Found, reinstating membership in and reinforcing a moral public.

Coleman, “Prosperity Unbound? Debating the “Sacrificial Economy” ”

November 15, 2011

Coleman, Simon (2011) “Prosperity Unbound? Debating the ‘Sacrificial Economy'” Research in Economic Anthropology 31:3-45

Abstract: I present here a review and critique of social scientific analyses of the global spread of Prosperity Christianity. My argument is that at least two phases of research can be discerned: an initial phase where economic factors are given strong causal explanatory force in accounting for the upsurge in Health and Wealth congregations; and a more recent phase that complicates our understandings of the relationships between religious and economic action. My review of the literature reveals that sacrifice is a theoretical trope common to both phases of writing, and in the latter half of the chapter I explore the ways in which notions of the sacrificial economy can point to nuanced understandings of the forms of materiality deployed in many Prosperity contexts. The wider implications of this chapter refer in part to how we might understand notions of rational and irrational action in relation to economic behavior; and also to an appreciation of the ways in which ritual action can be productive of, and not merely a response to, perceived ambiguity and risk.

Eves, “Pentecostal dreaming and technologies of governmentality in a Melanesian society”

November 13, 2011

Eves, Richard (2011) “Pentecostal dreaming and technologies of governmentality in a Melanesian society,” American Ethnologist 38(4):758–773

ABSTRACT: Among the Lelet of central New Ireland (Papua New Guinea), a dramatic increase in Pentecostalist fervor has produced significant changes in dreaming. Traditionally, the Lelet have valued dreaming as a means of access to knowledge and power. Now it is seen as a gift bestowed by the Holy Spirit, giving access to new and different forms of knowledge and power. Pentecostalism lays down many rules of conduct for the avoidance of sin, and dreams now play a role in policing them. Drawing on Michel Foucault’s work on governmentality, I find that Lelet dreaming acts as a form of self-scrutiny, reminding dreamers of the need to rectify their failures to follow Pentecostal precepts. Beyond this, dreams enable people to address the dilemmas that emerge when they embrace frameworks that impose radically different ways of being in the world than their previous religion did.

Hasinoff, “Faith in Objects”

November 10, 2011

Hasinoff, Erin L. 2011. Faith in Objects: American Missionary Expositions in the Early Twentieth Century. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.

Publisher’s Description: In the early twentieth century, missionary expositions were a central event in the religious life of many Americans. They also converged with the research agenda of anthropology, which was then defined by museum work. This thoughtfully researched book brings the untold history of the World in Boston of 1911 to light. Extraordinary in terms of content, geographic scope, and attendance, “America’s First Great Missionary Exposition” was conceived on the model of world’s fairs, and grew out of an established tradition of missionary exhibitions. This compelling history reveals how the material culture of missions shaped domestic interactions with evangelism, Christianity, and the consumption of ethnological knowledge.

Cahn, “Direct Sales and Direct Faith”

November 10, 2011

Cahn, Peter S. 2011. Direct Sales and Direct Faith in Latin America. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.

Publisher’s Description: Since 1990, direct sales have attracted over two million recruits in Mexico and are characterized by a belief in the power of positive thinking. Through an ethnographic portrait, Peter S. Cahn demonstrates that the quasi-religious commission of self-empowerment—more than any economic commission— accounts for the explosive growth of commission-based sales in the developing world. This book offers an in-depth exploration of the intersection of the spiritual and the economic, to reveal the ways in which people of faith blur the line between sacred and secular.

Chua, “The Christianity of Culture”

November 10, 2011

Chua, Liana. 2012. The Christianity of Culture: Conversion, Ethnic Citizenship, and the Matter of Religion in Borneo. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.

Publisher’s Description: In recent years, anthropologists have increasingly viewed Christian conversion as a form of rupture from the past. But what happens if the people with whom they work begin to speak a language of continuity and sameness with that past? In this richly contextualized study, Liana Chua explores how a largely Christian Bidayuh community has been reconfiguring its relationship to its old animist rituals through the trope and politics of “culture.” Placing her ethnography in dialogue with developments in the nascent anthropology of Christianity, Chua argues that such efforts at “continuity speaking” are the product not only of Malaysian cultural politics, but also of conversion and Christianity itself. This book invites scholars to rethink the nature and scope of conversion, as well as the multifarious, yet distinctive, forms that Christianity can take.

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