Archive for February, 2012

Halvorson, “Wovern Worlds”

February 28, 2012

Halvorson, Britt. 2012. Woven Worlds: material things, bureaucratization, and dilemmas of caregiving in Lutheran humanitarianism. American Ethnologist 39(1): 122-137.

Abstract: In this article, I examine the transition from charitable assistance to a professional model of humanitarianism in one American Lutheran agency that emerged from colonial missions to Madagascar. The agency, “International Health Mission” (IHM), primarily supplies medical technologies to Lutheran clinics in Madagascar, Tanzania, and Cameroon. I argue that popular material devices of relief provision, such as handmade bandages, tie the Christian humanitarian project to older notions of Lutheran faith as caregiving and pose special challenges to the bureaucratic model of aid delivery espoused by IHM. Casting renewed scholarly attention on materiality sheds light on the unique dilemmas facing faith-based aid agencies that strategically merge political discourses of humanitarianism with religious motivations for their work.

Engelke, “Angels in Swindon: Public religion and ambient faith in England”

February 28, 2012

Engelke, Matthew (2012) “Angels in Swindon: Public religion and ambient faith in England” American Ethnologist 39(1):155-170

Abstract: this article, I introduce the idea of “ambient faith” in an effort to clarify the stakes in long-standing debates about public and private religion. I take as my starting point the increasingly common recognition that conceptual distinctions between publicity and privacy are difficult to maintain in the first place and that they are, in any case, always relative. The idea of “ambient faith,” which I connect to work on the turn to a materialist semiotics, can serve as both a critique of and supplement to the ideas of “public” and “private” religion. Introducing ambience—the sense of ambience—allows one to raise important questions about the processes through which faith comes to the foreground or stays in the background—the extent to which faith, in other words, goes public or stays private. I use my research on a Christian organization in England, the Bible Society of England and Wales, to illuminate these points, discussing the society’s campaign in 2006 to bring angels to Swindon and its promotion of Bible reading in coffee shops. I also consider Brian Eno’s music and recent advertising trends for additional insights into the notion of “ambience.”

Farrelly, “The New Testament Church and Mount Zion in Taiwan”

February 26, 2012

Farrelly, Paul (2012) “The New Testament Church and Mount Zion in Taiwan” in Lenore Manderson, Wendy Smith, & Matt Tomlinson (eds) Flows of Faith: Religious Reach and Community in Asia and the Pacific (Springer, New York).

Abstract: Members of the New Testament Church (NTC) led by Elijah Hong, “God’s Chosen Prophet”, believe that God has forsaken the traditional Mount Zion in Israel and that the new Mount Zion in Taiwan is imbued with the spiritual significance and power that the old mountain once had. Mount Zion is both a pilgrimage destination and nature-based utopian community of several hundred adherents, serving as an Eden-like sanctuary and as the setting for the impending Tribulation. The NTC’s theology, as manifested in Mount Zion and the objects on it, is a curious blend of Pentecostal Protestantism and Chinese religiosity.

Dundon, “The Gateway to the Fly: Christianity, Continuity, and Spaces of Conversion in Papua New Guinea”

February 26, 2012

Dundon, Alison (2012) “The Gateway to the Fly: Christianity, Continuity, and Spaces of Conversion in Papua New Guinea” in Lenore Manderson, Wendy Smith, & Matt Tomlinson (eds) Flows of Faith: Religious Reach and Community in Asia and the Pacific (Springer, New York).

Abstract: By foregrounding space and the role it plays in the experience and recollection of conversion, Dundon illustrates how people conceptualise conversion to Christianity as meaningful. Her analysis of cultural continuity in terms of the parallels between practices and experiences of the ancestors and those of the missionaries draws attention to the importance of the places in which Gogodala live and move, and how they imagine the place to which they will travel to when they die (Wabila/Heaven). Conversion to Christianity, instigated by UFM missionaries and the establishment of the first UFM stations, churches and educational and health facilities, is perceived as a rupture, but not as traumatic and destructive. Rather, conversion is understood as a disjuncture between ‘before’ (when the ancestors did not know where they came from and its significance) and ‘now’ (when this has been revealed to them over time and through the spaces opened up between mission, church and community).

Hermkens, “Circulating Matters of Belief: Engendering Marian Movements during the Bougainville Crisis”

February 26, 2012

Hermkens, Anna-Karina (2012) “Circulating Matters of Belief: Engendering Marian Movements during the Bougainville Crisis” in Lenore Manderson, Wendy Smith, & Matt Tomlinson (eds) Flows of Faith: Religious Reach and Community in Asia and the Pacific (Springer, New York).

Abstract: This chapter focuses on the circulation and appropriation of transnational Marian objects and beliefs during the Bougainville conflict (1989-1999). I show how circulation drove the formation of new religious movements, and how ritual elements were appropriated into secessionist protests and practices of resistance, as well as in local peace efforts. By following these paths of circulation, the fluidity of religious beliefs across boundaries of nation state and community come to the fore, providing insight into how the appropriation of religious objects informs both nationalism and communitas.

Tomlinson, “Passports to Eternity: Whales’ Teeth and Transcendence in Fijian Methodism”

February 21, 2012

Tomlinson, Matt (2012) “Passports to Eternity: Whales’ Teeth and Transcendence in Fijian Methodism,” in Lenore Manderson, Wendy Smith, & Matt Tomlinson (eds) Flows of Faith: Religious Reach and Community in Asia and the Pacific (Springer, New York).

Abstract: Christianity is often considered a religion of transcendence, in which divinity “goes beyond” human space and time. Recent anthropological scholarship has noted, however, that claims to transcendence must be expressed materially. This chapter examines the ways in which Fijian Methodists attempt to achieve a kind of Christian transcendence in which they escape negative influences of the vanua (land, chiefdoms, and the “traditional” order generally). They do so by offering sperm whales’ teeth to church authorities in order to apologise and atone for the sins of ancestors. Such rituals do not achieve the transcendence they aim for, however, as the whales’ teeth–the material tokens offered to gain divine favour–gain their ritual value precisely because of their attachment to the vanua.

Pons “The Anthropology of Christianity in the Faroe Islands”

February 19, 2012

Pons, Christophe (2011) “The Anthropology of Christianity in the Faroe Islands: What the fringes of the Faroese religious configuration have to say about Christianity,” in Firouz Gaini (ed)Among the Islanders of the North: An Anthropology of the Faroe Islands. Tórshavn: Faroe University Press

Excerpt: “At the beginnings of the 1980s, in the remote villages of the small North Atlantic archipelago of the  Faroe Islands, some people started talking about Jesus in a different way. They said that Jesus was with them all the time, that he was their fellow, their best friend, that he opened their eyes and their hearts. They claimed that Jesus saved them by offering them freedom and that they were dong some new kind of evangelization in a proselytical and aggressive way. At first the Faroese people found this a little strange. But with time, the Friends of Jesus – as we shall call them – became part of the Faroese religious landscape . . . “

Albera and Couroucli (eds), “Sharing Sacred Spaces in the Mediterranean: Christians, Muslims, and Jews at Shrines and Sanctuaries”

February 9, 2012

Albera, Dionigi and Maria Couroucli, eds. (2012). Sharing Sacred Spaces in the Mediterranean: Christians, Muslims, and Jews at Shrines and Sanctuaries. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Description

While devotional practices are usually viewed as mechanisms for reinforcing religious boundaries, in the multicultural, multiconfessional world of the Eastern Mediterranean, shared shrines sustain intercommunal and interreligious contact among groups. Heterodox, marginal, and largely ignored by central authorities, these practices persist despite aggressive, homogenizing nationalist movements. This volume challenges much of the received wisdom concerning the three major monotheistic religions and the “clash of civilizations.” Contributors examine intertwined religious traditions along the shores of the Near East from North Africa to the Balkans.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Sharing Sacred Places—A Mediterranean Tradition / Maria Couroucli
1. Identification and Identity Formation around Shared Shrines in West Bank Palestine and Western Macedonia / Glenn Bowman
2. The Vakëf: Sharing Religious Space in Albania / Gilles de Rapper
3. Komsiluk and Taking Care of the Neighbor’s Shrine in Bosnia-Herzegovina / Bojan Baskar
4. The Mount of the Cross: Sharing and Contesting Barriers on a Balkan Pilgrimage Site / Galia Valtchinova
5. Muslim Devotional Practices in Christian Shrines: The Case of Istanbul / Dionigi Albera and Benoît Fliche
6. Saint George the Anatolian: Master of Frontiers / Maria Couroucli
7. A Jewish-Muslim Shrine in North Morocco: Echoes of an Ambiguous Past / Henk Driessen
8. What Do Egypt’s Copts and Muslims Share? The Issue of Shrines / Catherine Mayeur-Jaouen
9. Apparitions of the Virgin in Egypt: Improving Relations between Copts and Muslims? / Sandrine Keriakos
10. Sharing the Baraka of the Saints: Pluridenominational Visits to the Christian Monasteries in Syria / Anna Poujeau
Conclusion: Crossing the Frontiers between the Monotheistic Religions, an Anthropological Approach / Dionigi Albera

Eriksen, “The pastor and the prophetess: an analysis of gender and Christianity in Vanuatu”

February 9, 2012

Eriksen, Annelin (2012) “The pastor and the prophetess: an analysis of gender and Christianity in Vanuatu.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 18(1):103-122 

Abstract

The focus of this article is the proliferation of new charismatic Pentecostal churches in the South Pacific nation Vanuatu. The established Presbyterian Church on the island of Ambrym is compared to a new Pentecostal church in the capital Port Vila in terms of gender. The idea of a vanishing form of masculinity and the development of a form of ‘gender nostalgia’ is emphasized in the comparison. By looking at gender relations, new perspectives on the difference between the new churches and more established churches emerge, and these perspectives, I argue, might also give us an understanding of why fission seem to be inevitable for the new Pentecostal churches in Vanuatu.

Résumé

Le présent article s’intéresse à la prolifération des nouvelles Églises pentecôtistes charismatiques au Vanuatu, une nation du Pacifique Sud. Il propose un comparaison du point de vue des rapports de genre entre l’Église presbytérienne établie dans l’île d’Ambrym et une nouvelle assemblée pentecôtiste de la capitale, Port Vila. Cette comparaison met l’accent sur l’idée d’une forme de masculinité en voie de disparition et sur le développement d’une certaine « nostalgie de genre ». L’examen des rapports sociaux de sexes fait apparaître de nouveaux angles d’approche de la différence entre les nouvelles Églises et les plus établies. L’auteure affirme que ces approches peuvent permettre de comprendre pourquoi le schisme semble inévitable pour les nouvelles Églises pentecôtistes du Vanuatu.

Haynes, “Pentecostalism and the morality of money: prosperity, inequality, and religious sociality on the Zambian Copperbelt”

February 9, 2012

Haynes, Naomi (2012) “Pentecostalism and the morality of money: prosperity, inequality, and religious sociality on the Zambian Copperbelt” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 18(1): 123-139.

Abstract

As part of a growing body of work focused on the social implications of Pentecostal Christianity, this article explores one of the ways that this religion is shaping relational life on the Zambian Copperbelt. Through a discussion of the changing nature of the prosperity gospel, I show how Pentecostalism embeds believers in social relationships that often extend beyond their religious cohort. In the absence of the lavish wealth promised by prosperity gospel preachers, Pentecostals have had to alter their understanding of divinely authored economic success. Specifically, local definitions of prosperity are characterized not by uniform, individualized wealth, but rather by progress along a gradient of material achievement through relationships that span differences in economic status. This retooled version of the prosperity gospel serves to integrate believers into the wider social world by emphasizing material inequality and promoting displays of wealth. Each of these aspects of Copperbelt Pentecostalism embeds its adherents in networks of exchange that are a central component of urban Zambian sociality. This analysis of Pentecostalism expands on studies of this religion that focus only on formal ritual life, while at the same time challenging interpretations of Pentecostalism that have given its social potential short shrift.

Résumé

Le présent article s’inscrit dans un corpus de plus en plus important de travaux consacrés aux implications sociales du christianisme pentecôtiste. Il explore l’une des manières dont cette religion façonne la vie relationnelle dans la province du Copperbelt, en Zambie. Par la discussion de la nature changeante de la théologie de la prospérité, l’auteure montre comment le pentecôtisme intègre ses fidèles dans des relations sociales qui s’étendent souvent au-delà des limites de leur communauté religieuse. Ne voyant pas venir l’abondance promise par les prédicateurs de la doctrine de la prospérité, les pentecôtistes ont dû revoir leur interprétation d’une réussite économique sanctionnée par Dieu. Plus précisément, les définitions locales de la prospérité sont caractérisées non pas par une possession de biens uniforme et individualisée mais plutôt par une progression suivant un gradient de réussite matérielle, par le biais de relations franchissant les différences de situation économique. Cette version remaniée de la théologie de la prospérité sert à intégrer les croyants dans le monde social qui les entoure, en mettant l’accent sur les inégalités matérielles et en encourageant les signes extérieurs de richesse. Chacun de ces aspects du pentecôtisme dans le Copperbelt intègre les fidèles dans des réseaux d’échange qui sont une composante essentielle de la société zambienne urbaine. L’analyse du pentecôtisme réalisée ici commente les études de cette religion axées uniquement sur le rituel, tout en remettant en question les interprétations faisant peu de cas du potentiel social du pentecôtisme.

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