Chua, Liana (2012). “Conversion, continuity, and moral dilemmas among Christian Bidayuhs in Malaysian Borneo”

July 18, 2012

Chua, Liana. 2012. Conversion, continuity, and moral dilemmas among Christian Bidayuhs in Malaysian Borneo. American Ethnologist 39(3):511-526.

Abstract

The nascent anthropology of Christianity highlights rupture as central to conversion. Yet thick ethnography of a Bidayuh village in Malaysian Borneo reveals how conversion can also foster modes of thinking and speaking about continuity between Christianity and “the old ways.” Through a study of the shifting moral and religious topography of a community in which three churches coexist alongside a few elderly animist practitioners, I argue that such discourses and practices of continuity highlight the pluralistic and sometimes contradictory nature of Christianization. At the same time, they generate an understanding of conversion as a temporal and relational positioning that encompasses both converts and nonconverts.

 

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