Archive for October, 2012

Ajibade “‘Lady No Be So'”

October 30, 2012

Ajibade, Babson.  2012. ‘Lady no be so’: the image of women in contemporary church posters in Nigeria.  Visual Studies: 27(3): 237-247.

Abstract: There is no doubt that churches are proliferating in Nigerian cities and church-going has become a popular culture. Mostly male, pastors are sacrosanct and unaccountable, just as their living standards far outweigh those of their members. In their domination of the contemporary Church in Nigeria, male pastors reproduce and use popular but subjective social images of women to apprehend female pastors. In terms of publicity, printed posters are the most prolific media churches employ. Yet, on these same posters, male pastors differentiate themselves and subordinate female pastors by using graphic principles of layout and visual placement of women’s pictures vis-à-vis theirs. That the Church is male-dominated is clearly not in question. This paper interrogates how this domination is played out and the roles women are playing in re-presenting themselves in dominated church spaces. Using data from fieldwork, this paper analyses the image of women in Nigerian church posters, the vast collection of practices built around religious domination and the roles female pastors are playing in re-representing women in the Nigerian religious space.

Magolda and Gross, “Misinterpreting the Spirit and Heart: Religious and Paradigmatic Tensions in Ethnographic Research”

October 30, 2012

Magolda, Peter and Kelsey Ebben Gross (2012) “Misinterpreting the Spirit and Heart: Religious and Paradigmatic Tensions in Ethnographic Research.” Religion & Education 39(3):235-256.

Abstract: This article discusses the unique methodological challenges that 2 secular researchers encountered while studying an evangelical collegiate enclave. The article showcases the researchers’ retrospec- tive sense making of their fieldwork and offers insights for qualitat- ive researchers interested in studying faith-based organizations.

Jansen and Notermans, eds.,”Gender Nation and Religion in European Pilgrimage”

October 25, 2012

Jansen, Willy and Catrien Notermans, eds. (2012) Gender Nation and Religion in European Pilgrimage. Surrey: Ashgate Press.

Publisher’s Description: Old pilgrimage routes are attracting huge numbers of people. Religious or spiritual meanings are interwoven with socio-cultural and politico-strategic concerns and this book explores three such concerns of hot debate in Europe: religious identity construction in a changing European religious landscape; gender and sexual emancipation; and (trans)national identities in the context of migration and European unification. Through the explorations of such pilgrimages by a multidisciplinary range of international scholars, this book shows how the old routes of Europe are offering inspirational opportunities for making new journeys.

Kollman, “Analyzing Emerging Christianities: Recent Insights from the Social Sciences”

October 23, 2012

Kollman, Paul (2012)  “Analyzing Emerging Christianities: Recent Insights from the Social Sciences.” Journal of Holistic Mission Studies 29(4): 304-314

Abstract: The social sciences contribute in important ways to our understanding of current Christian realities, especially ‘newer’ or ‘emerging’ Christianities. Recent research by social scientists on contemporary Christian groups – in historical anthropology and more recently in the anthropology of Christianity – has yielded important insights into modes of Christian agency and identity. Those interested in the spread of Christianity today – including missiologists – should familiarize themselves with such anthropological and sociological research. For their part, those engaged in social-scientific research on newer Christianities should attend more closely to Christianity in its historical and communal dimensions by developing an historical sociology.

Lima, “Prosperity and Masculinity: Neopentecostal Men in Rio de Janeiro”

October 23, 2012

Lima, Diana. 2012. Prosperity and Masculinity: Neopentecostal Men in Rio de Janeiro. Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology 77(3):372-399.


This article analyses how social subjects from low-income communities in a historically peripheral country like Brazil access and process the economic ideas now prevalent in the contemporary world by examining the rationalizations involved in the adherence to the individualist message of prosperity theology. Based on the classical Weberian premise of a relation between religious ethics and economic ethos (Weber, Max. 1987. A Ética Protestante e o Espírito do Capitalismo. São Paulo: Livraria Pioneira Editora), I analyse the commitment of faith made with the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God by members of a network of worshippers formed by around 20 men aged between 18 and 45 years with low levels of schooling, living in favelas of Rio de Janeiro, in order to comprehend how the principles of neoliberal cosmology, adopted as central elements of Brazilian economic policy since the 1990s, have been incorporated by people from the poorest sectors of urban Brazil.

Gross, “Changing Faith: The Social Costs of Protestant Conversion in Rural Oaxaca”

October 23, 2012

Gross, Toomas. 2012. Changing Faith: The Social Costs of Protestant Conversion in Rural Oaxaca. Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology 77(3):344-371.


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 scrutinising 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 is often far more complex and multi-directional at the local level than macro-level trends of rapid Protestant growth suggest.

Swartz “Moral Minority”

October 23, 2012

Swartz, David R.  2012.  Moral Minority: The Evangelical Left in an Age of Conservatism.  University of Pennsylvania Press.
Publisher’s Description:  In 1973, nearly a decade before the height of the Moral Majority, a group of progressive activists assembled in a Chicago YMCA to strategize about how to move the nation in a more evangelical direction through political action. When they emerged, the Washington Post predicted that the new evangelical left could “shake both political and religious life in America.” The following decades proved the Post both right and wrong—evangelical participation in the political sphere was intensifying, but in the end it was the religious right, not the left, that built a viable movement and mobilized electorally. How did the evangelical right gain a moral monopoly and why were evangelical progressives, who had shown such promise, left behind?

In Moral Minority, the first comprehensive history of the evangelical left, David R. Swartz sets out to answer these questions, charting the rise, decline, and political legacy of this forgotten movement. Though vibrant in the late nineteenth century, progressive evangelicals were in eclipse following religious controversies of the early twentieth century, only to reemerge in the 1960s and 1970s. They stood for antiwar, civil rights, and anticonsumer principles, even as they stressed doctrinal and sexual fidelity. Politically progressive and theologically conservative, the evangelical left was also remarkably diverse, encompassing groups such as Sojourners, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Evangelicals for Social Action, and the Association for Public Justice. Swartz chronicles the efforts of evangelical progressives who expanded the concept of morality from the personal to the social and showed the way—organizationally and through political activism—to what would become the much larger and more influential evangelical right. By the 1980s, although they had witnessed the election of Jimmy Carter, the nation’s first born-again president, progressive evangelicals found themselves in the political wilderness, riven by identity politics and alienated by a skeptical Democratic Party and a hostile religious right.

In the twenty-first century, evangelicals of nearly all political and denominational persuasions view social engagement as a fundamental responsibility of the faithful. This most dramatic of transformations is an important legacy of the evangelical left.

Haladewicz-Grzelak and Lubos-Koziel “Semiotic value in advertisements in Silesian Catholic Periodicals”

October 23, 2012

Haladewicz-Grzelak, Malgorzata and Joanna Lubos-Koziel (2012) “Semiotic value in advertisements in Silesian Catholic Periodicals from the second half of the nineteenth to early twentieth centuries.  Semiotica vol. 2012 no. 192 pp. 381-425.

Abstract: The paper studies semiotic values in advertisements appearing in German Catholic periodicals in Silesia in the second half of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The study is grounded in the Tartu School of Semiotics and shows shifts and hierarchies in the semiotic valuations of particular commodities. Collected advertisements were classified into four main groups: (1) books, (2) church art, (3) church and devotional accessories, (4) everyday life commodities. We motivate the claim that the group (2) of the advertisements in the Catholic press we analyzed was the driver for the introduction of the remaining two categories of ads, hence the study of this group is pivotal for our analysis. The parameters of center, periphery, and “border,” as between the sacred and the profane are also taken into account, within the structural interrelation of Sr (religious system) (cf. Zaliźniak et al. 1975 [1962]) and Sc (commercial code). Assuming the usefulness of explanatory mechanisms, in conclusion a heuristic interpretation is provided in terms of the relations of semiotic primes.

Nilsson, “Conserving the American Dream: Faith and Politics in the U.S. Heartland”

October 23, 2012

Nilsson, Erik (2012) “Conserving the American Dream: Faith and Politics in the U.S. Heartland.” Stockholm studies in social anthropology. Stockholm, Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis.

Publisher’s Description: Recent decades have seen substantial changes in the U.S. political landscape. One particularly significant development has been the growing influence of a conservative coalition encompassing evangelical Christianity, interventionist foreign policy and neoliberal reform. This study explores the force and internal dynamics of this political assemblage. Based on fieldwork among conservative voters, volunteers and candidates in a small city in northwestern Ohio during a midterm election year, it probes the energy of conservative politics, its modes of attachment and influence, and the organizational forms through which it circulates. Contemporary conservative politics are shown to be centered on a particular epistemological intuition: that to be able to act, one must believe in something. This intuition implies an actively affirmative stance toward “beliefs” and “values.” The study also addresses methodological and analytical challenges that conservative politics pose for anthropological inquiry. It develops a “conversational” analytical attitude, arguing that in order to understand the lasting influence conservatism one has to take seriously the problems that it is oriented toward.

Justice, “As It Was In The Beginning, Is Now, and Ever Shall Be?: Church Organists, Community, and Musical Continuity”

October 23, 2012

Justice, Deborah (2012) “As It Was In The Beginning, Is Now, and Ever Shall Be?: Church Organists, Community, and Musical Continuity” Ethnomusicology Review 14

Abstract: Do local church organists form communities? As ritual specialists, church organists have long played an indispensible role in facilitating North American and European Christian worship. Despite the diverse musical practices of Christianity, most mainline Protestant Sunday morning organ music falls within a relatively narrow range of repertoire and performance practice. Such musical continuity implies a level of communication between organists. Yet, since most organists work similar hours on Sunday mornings, they only infrequently observe each other during services. What explains the musical similarities? Do organists share educational backgrounds and sources of repertoire? How does musical information travel between organists? How does the contemporary reconfiguration of mainline Christianity impact organists’ sense of community? In this paper, I explore these issues through one basic question: do local organists form a musical community?

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