Archive for May, 2012

McAlister, Elizabeth (2012) “From Slave Revolt to a Blood Pact with Satan: The Evangelical Rewriting of Haitian History”

May 7, 2012

McAlister, Elizabeth. 2012. “From Slave Revolt to a Blood Pact with Satan: The Evangelical Rewriting of Haitian History” Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses 42(2) [Pagination not available – Pre-publication electronic distribution]

Abstract: Enslaved Africans and Creoles in the French colony of Saint-Domingue are said to have gathered at a nighttime meeting at a place called Bois Caïman in what was both political rally and religious ceremony, weeks before the Haitian Revolution in 1791. The slave ceremony is known in Haitian history as a religio-political event and used frequently as a source of inspiration by nationalists, but in the 1990s, neo-evangelicals rewrote the story of the famous ceremony as a “blood pact with Satan.” This essay traces the social links and biblical logics that gave rise first to the historical record, and then to the neo-evangelical rewriting of this iconic moment. It argues that the confluence of the bicentennial of the Haitian Revolution with the political contest around President Aristide’s policies, the growth of the neo-evangelical Spiritual Mapping movement, and of the Internet, produced a new form of mythmaking, in which neo-evangelicals re-signified key symbols of the event—an oath to a divine force, blood sacrifice, a tree, and group unity—from the mythical grammar of Haitian nationalism to that of neo-evangelical Christianity. In the many ironies of this clash between the political afterlife of a slave uprising with the political afterlife of biblical scripture, Haiti becomes a nation held in captivity, and Satan becomes the colonial power who must be overthrown.

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Naumescu, Vlad (2011) “The Case for Religious Transmission: Time and Transmission in the Anthropology of Christianity”

May 7, 2012

Naumescu, Vlad. 2011. The Case for Religious Transmission: Time and Transmission in the Anthropology of Christianity. Religion and Society: Advances in Research. 2(1):54-71.

Abstract

Acknowledging the growing interest in issues of religious transmission, this article reviews two promising yet contradictory approaches to religion that could be described as historicist and universalist. It offers an alternative view premised on their convergence in a pragmatic approach that can link the material, contextual, and institutional dimensions of transmission with corresponding cognitive, perceptive, and emotional processes. This perspective recognizes the historicity of religious transmission and its cognitive underpinnings while attending to the materiality of its semiotic forms. The article focuses on the relationship between time and transmission in recent ethnographies of Christianity that show how Christian temporalities influence perceptions of social continuity or rupture and individuals’ becoming in history. Within this frame, it examines the case of Old Believers, an apocalyptic movement that emerged out of a schism in seventeenth-century Russian Orthodoxy, to indicate how a pragmatic approach works in practice.

McGovern, Mike (2012) “Turning the Clock Back or Breaking with the Past?: Charismatic Temporality and Elite Politics in Côte d’Ivoire and the United States”

May 4, 2012

McGovern, Mike. 2012. Turning the Clock Back or Breaking with the Past?: Charismatic Temporality and Elite Politics in Côte d’Ivoire and the United States. Cultural Anthropology. 27(2):239-260.

Abstract

The article explores the forms of punctuated time that characterize evangelical discourse in both Côte d’Ivoire and the United States. It compares forms of punctuated time that not only form the basis of End Times theology in both places, but have also served as the basis of important lobbying networks. Though evangelical politics in each place has different roots, both are linked by populist anti-immigrant and Islamophobic rhetoric. Most importantly, I argue, the shared structure of eschataological temporality shapes the elective affinities that brought together such strange bedfellows as Pat Robertson and Laurent Gbagbo.

Jones, Graham (2012) “Magic with a Message: The Poetics of Christian Conjuring”

May 4, 2012

Jones, Graham. 2012. Magic with a Message: The Poetics of Christian Conjuring. Cultural Anthropology. 27(2):193-214.

Abstract

This article examines the performance practices of U.S. gospel magicians, evangelical Christians who convey religious messages with conjuring tricks. Emphatically denying that they possess supernatural powers and scrupulously avoiding effects that resemble biblical miracles, they take pains to present their tricks as unambiguously skillful performances intended to entertain, uplift, and instruct. When patterned on a Christian motif, otherwise self-referential magic tricks constitute a versatile signifying medium. Addressing the poetics of gospel magic in the setting of instructional workshops, this analysis explores a variety of ways performers utilize iconic resemblances between conjuring effects and Christian referents to produce complex and evocative expressions of faith. At the same time, they carefully manage signifiers of virtuosic agency that are intrinsic to the efficacy of gospel magic performance, but that also threaten to undermine their Christian message.

Brahinsky, Josh (2012) “Pentecostal Body Logics: Cultivating a Modern Sensorium”

May 4, 2012

Brahinsky, Josh. 2012. Pentecostal Body Logics: Cultivating a Modern Sensorium. Cultural Anthropology. 27(2):215-238.

Abstract

Pentecostals put intensive study into bodies, texts, practices and their interrelationships so as to effectively cultivate a sensory culture – sensorium – and invite authoritative religious experience. This ethnographic study follows a Pentecostal sensorium from its crucial institutionalization in early Assemblies of God practice to more contemporary manifestations at Bethany University and among the Promise Keepers. It traces the historical mutations of what I call the body logics – or portable sensory dynamics – that are central to Pentecostal pedagogies of conversion and commitment, especially in their relatively easy transposition to new contexts and ambivalent but productive relationship to modern secularity. Further, it argues that religiously inflected sensory aptitudes, and perhaps even mind-body dynamics, emerge through a process of careful cultivation and nurturance.

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