Archive for September, 2013

Boddy and Lambek (eds.), “A Companion to the Anthropology of Religion”

September 29, 2013

Boddy, Janice and Michael Lambek, eds. 2013. A Companion to the Anthropology of Religion. London: Wiley-Blackwell.

Release Date: October 21, 2013

Publisher’s Description: A Companion to the Anthropology of Religion presents a collection of original, ethnographically-informed essays that explore the variety of beliefs, practices, and religious experiences in the contemporary world and asks how to think about religion as a subject of anthropological inquiry.

  • Presents a collection of original, ethnographically-informed essays exploring the wide variety of beliefs, practices, and religious experiences in the contemporary world
  • Explores a broad range of topics including the ‘perspectivism’ debate, the rise of religious nationalism, reflections on religion and new media, religion and politics, and ideas of self and gender in relation to religious belief
  • Includes examples drawn from different religious traditions and from several regions of the world
  • Features newly-commissioned articles reflecting the most up-to-date research and critical thinking in the field, written by an international team of leading scholars
  • Adds immeasurably to our understanding of the complex relationships between religion, culture, society, and the individual in today’s world

Table of Contents:

What Is “Religion” for Anthropology? And What Has Anthropology Brought to “Religion”? 1
Michael Lambek

Part I Worlds and Intersections 33

1 Presence, Attachment, Origin: Ontologies of “Incarnates” 35
Philippe Descola

2 The Dynamic Reproduction of Hunter-Gatherers’ Ontologies and Values 50
Sylvie Poirier

3 Cohabiting an Interreligious Milieu: Reflections on Religious Diversity 69
Veena Das

4 Religious and Legal Particularism and Universality 85
Winnifred Fallers Sullivan

Part II Epistemologies 101

5 Are Ancestors Dead? 103
Rita Astuti and Maurice Bloch

6 Coping with Religious Diversity: Incommensurability and Other Perspectives 118
Eva Spies

7 Varieties of Semiotic Ideology in the Interpretation of Religion 137
Michael Lambek

8 Religion and the Truth of Being 154
Paul Stoller

Part III Time and Ethics 169

9 Ethics 171
James Laidlaw

10 The Social and Political Theory of the Soul 189
Heonik Kwon

11 Ghosts and Ancestors in the Modern West 202
Fenella Cannell

12 The Work of Memory: Ritual Laments of the Dead and Korea’s Cheju Massacre 223
Seong-nae Kim

13 The Globalization of Pentecostalism and the Limits of Globalization 239
Girish Daswani

Part IV Practices and Mediations 255

14 Food, Life, and Material Religion in Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity 257
Tom Boylston

15 Trading with God: Islam, Calculation, Excess 274
Amira Mittermaier

16 Ritual Remains: Studying Contemporary Pilgrimage 294
Simon Coleman

17 Mediation and Immediacy: Sensational Forms, Semiotic Ideologies, and the Question of the Medium 309
Birgit Meyer

Part V Languages and Conversions 327

18 Translating God’s Words 329
Wendy James

19 Christianity as a Polemical Concept 344
Pamela E. Klassen

20 Reconfi guring Humanity in Amazonia: Christianity and Change 363
Aparecida Vilaça

21 Language in Christian Conversion 387
William F. Hanks

Part VI Persons and Histories 407

22 Canonizing Soviet Pasts in Contemporary Russia: The Case of Saint Matrona of Moscow 409
Jeanne Kormina

23 Reflections on Death, Religion, Identity, and the Anthropology of Religion 425
Ellen Badone

24 Spirits and Selves Revisited: Zâr and Islam in Northern Sudan 444
Janice Boddy

Part VII Powers 469

25 The Political Landscape of Early State Religions 471
Edward Swenson

26 A Syariah Judiciary as a Global Assemblage: Islamization and Beyond in a Southeast Asian Context 489
Michael G. Peletz

27 The Catholicization of Neoliberalism 507
Andrea Muehlebach

28 The Sacred and the City: Modernity, Religion, and the Urban Form in Central Africa 528
Filip De Boeck

Hexham, “Incarnating a rhetoric of identity”

September 26, 2013

Hexham, Jeremy.  2013.  Incarnating a rhetoric of identity: Pat Robertson and the 700 Club.  Communicatio: South African Journal for Communication Theory and Research 39(3): 305-318.

Abstract: The article analyses the American ‘Christian’ television talk show, the 700 Club, created by Pat Robertson. It suggests that Robertson has developed a sophisticated form of programming based on the creation of a participatory identity between the viewer, programme hosts and interviewees. This is based on the skilful combination of rhetoric and myths, understood in terms of narrative paradigms, supported by the active involvement of worldwide church-based support networks.

Frederick, “For the Love of Money? “

September 26, 2013

Frederick, Marla F.  2013.  “For the Love of Money?: Distributing the Go$pel beyond the United States.  Callaloo 36(3).

Excerpt: In this paper, I wrestle with the power of religious globalization as it relates to the expansion of American media markets in Jamaica. By looking at the influence of United States-based, market driven models of religious broadcasting on local religious distributors like Mercy and Truth Ministries and Love TV in Jamaica, this paper teases out the ways in which market logics intersect and at times undermine altruistic claims to the work of ministry. In these instances the kind of love—absent preoccupations with money and power—that Rev. Miller spoke of is often usurped by the very real costs of ministry. Religious broadcasting has taken the gospel, which many evangelical Christians consider “the Greatest Love Story in the World,” embodied in the scripture’s profession that “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son,” and turned it into a different gospel. The gospel of love and redemption amended to a gospel of health and wealth. “Love of God” is often comingled with “Love of Money.” If anything this paper argues that religious producers are not independent purveyors of the predominance of economic logics that drive religious broadcasting; instead, producers and distributors are intimately connected in a pattern of economic profitability that often challenges non-United States based local broadcasters who want to remain independent/ministry focused engines of social change in their respective communities. The threat of competition and the need for economic solvency in a paid-time era—wherein broadcasters have to raise their own support through book and tape sales—requires the best of business models to survive in a globalized religious broadcasting market.

Quiroa, “Missionary Exegesis of the Popol Vuh”

September 24, 2013

Quiroa, Nestor. 2013. Missionary Exegesis of the Popol Vuh: Maya-K’iche’ Cultural and Religious Continuity in Colonial and Contemporary Highland Guatemala. History of Religions 53(1): 66-97.

Article Excerpt:

The decade of the 1990s witnessed the development of two pivotal moments in the modern history of Guatemala. In 1996, ten years of violence and genocide came to an end with the consummation of the Peace Accord, in Oslo, Norway, between the Guatemalan army and the guerrilla insurgency. This internationally monitored cease-fire opened the necessary national space for an indigenous political movement known as the “Movimiento Maya” or pan-Maya Movement. Among the demands of this movement was a call for the redefinition of Guatemala as a multiethnic, pluralistic, and multilingual society, with full political and cultural rights for the Maya peoples.

On a different level, this new national agenda included the recovery, development, and diffusion of Maya spirituality, which, according to activist Maya-Kaqchikel and Presbyterian Victorino Similox, required a fundamental reassessment of Christian theology within the framework of Maya cultural paradigms. The creation of Maya hermeneutics represented one of the most challenging tasks in this process because it entailed rescuing and decoding the necessary symbols, rites, and myths from ancient Maya civilization.At the center of this theological reformulation was the Popol Wuj, or sacred book, of the ancient Maya, which became the heuristic source for knowledge of the ancient word. However, the prominence that this sacred text played in the spiritual life of Maya communities was a point of unresolved contention between Maya Catholics, Maya Protestants, and those Maya committed to ancient religious beliefs. Although this national theological dialogue over the spiritual relevance of the Popol Wuj occurred two decades ago, the theological implications it evoked find deep roots in five hundred years of Christianization of the Maya population of highland Guatemala.

This study takes an unorthodox approach to the Popol Wuj, given that most traditional scholarship focuses exclusively on its mytho-historical content in order to understand the precolonial Maya culture and worldview. This essay, however, aims to complement such approaches by analyzing the Popol Wuj within the two contexts of the spiritual conversion that the highland Guatemala Maya-K’iche’ population endured under the auspices of Catholic and Protestant missionaries. This comparative analysis between the Dominican Friar Francisco Ximénez’s missionary campaign in the seventeenth century and that of the Presbyterian missionaries Paul and Dora Burgess early in the twentieth century provides an opportunity to inquire into how this creation narrative has impacted the missionaries’ mind-set from colonial to modern times. It will be argued that in both cases the Popol Vuh narrative determined the way these missionaries constructed their image of the Maya-K’iche’ peoples, reshaped their theological positions on Maya religious beliefs, and dictated their agendas so as to best convert the native population to Christianity.

Rey and Stepick, “Crossing the Water and Keeping the Faith”

September 24, 2013

Rey, Terry and Alex Stepick. 2013. Crossing the Water and Keeping the Faith: Haitian Religion in Miami. New York: NYU Press.

Publisher’s Description:

Beginning in the late 1970s and early 1980s, significant numbers of Haitian immigrants began to arrive and settle in Miami. Overcoming some of the most foreboding obstacles ever to face immigrants in America, they, their children, and now their grandchildren, as well as more recently arriving immigrants from Haiti, have diversified socioeconomically. Together, they have made South Florida home to the largest population of native-born Haitians and diasporic Haitians outside of the Caribbean and one of the most significant Caribbean immigrant communities in the world. Religion has played a central role in making all of this happen.
Crossing the Water and Keeping the Faith is a historical and ethnographic study of Haitian religion in immigrant communities, based on fieldwork in both Miami and Haiti, as well as extensive archival research. Where many studies of Haitian religion limit themselves to one faith, Rey and Stepick explore Catholicism, Protestantism, and Vodou in conversation with one another, suggesting that despite the differences between these practices, the three faiths ultimately create a sense of unity, fulfillment, and self-worth in Haitian communities. This meticulously researched and vibrantly written book contributes to the growing body of literature on religion among new immigrants, as well as providing a rich exploration of Haitian faith communities.

Schäfer, “Countercultural Conservatives”

September 19, 2013

Schäfer, Axel R.  2011.  Countercultural Conservatives: American Evangelicalism from the Postwar Revival to the New Christian Right.  Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press.

Publisher’s Description: Today Christian evangelicals appear to form a solid conservative bloc—but it was not always so.  In the mid-twentieth century, far more evangelicals supported such “liberal” causes as peace, social justice, and environmental protection. Only gradually did the conservative evangelical faction win dominance, allying with the Republican Party of Ronald Reagan and, eventually, George W. Bush. In Countercultural Conservatives, Axel Schäfer traces the evolution of a diffuse and pluralistic movement into the political force of the New Christian Right. In forging its complex theological and political identity, evangelicalism did not simply reject the ideas of 1960s counterculture, Schäfer argues. For all their strict Biblicism and uncompromising morality, evangelicals absorbed and extended key aspects of the countercultural worldview.  Carefully examining evangelicalism’s internal dynamics, fissures, and coalitions, this book offers an intriguing reinterpretation of the most important development in American religion and politics since World War II.


Schäfer (ed), “American Evangelicals and the 1960s”

September 19, 2013

Schäfer, Axel R. (ed). 2013.  American Evangelicals and the 1960s.  Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press.

Publisher’s Description: In the late 1970s, the New Christian Right emerged as a formidable political force, boldly announcing itself as a unified movement representing the views of a “moral majority.” But that movement did not spring fully formed from its predecessors. American Evangelicals and the 1960s refutes the thesis that evangelical politics were a purely inflammatory backlash against the cultural and political upheaval of the decade. Bringing together fresh research and innovative interpretations, this book demonstrates that evangelicals actually participated in broader American developments during “the long 1960s,” that the evangelical constituency was more diverse than often noted, and that the notion of right-wing evangelical politics as a backlash was a later creation serving the interests of both Republican-conservative alliances and their critics. Evangelicalism’s involvement with—rather than its reaction against—the main social movements, public policy initiatives, and cultural transformations of the 1960s proved significant in its 1970s political ascendance. Twelve essays that range thematically from the oil industry to prison ministry and from American counterculture to the Second Vatican Council depict modern evangelicalism both as a religious movement with its own internal dynamics and as one fully integrated into general American history.

Hefner (ed), “Global Pentecostalism in the 21st Century”

September 19, 2013

Hefner, Robert W.  2013.  Global Pentecostalism in the 21st Century.  Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Publisher’s Description: This state-of-the-field overview of Pentecostalism around the world focuses on cultural developments among second- and third-generation adherents in regions with large Pentecostal communities, considering the impact of these developments on political participation, citizenship, gender relations, and economic morality. Leading scholars from anthropology, sociology, religious studies, and history present useful introductions to global issues and country-specific studies drawn from Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the former USSR.

Table of Contents:

Introduction: The Unexpected Modern—Gender, Piety, and Politics in the Global Pentecostal Surge \ Robert W. Hefner
1. Pentecostalism: An Alternative Form of Modernity and Modernization? \ David Martin
2. The Future of Pentecostalism in Brazil: The Limits to Growth \ Paul Freston
3. Social Mobility and Politics in African Pentecostal Modernity \ David Maxwell
4. Tensions and Trends in Pentecostal Gender and Family Relations \ Bernice Martin
5. Gender, Modernity, and Pentecostal Christianity in China \ Nanlai Cao
6. The Routinization of Soviet Pentecostalism and the Liberation of Charisma in Russia and Ukraine \ Christopher Marsh and Artyom Tonoyan
7. Pentecost amid Pujas: Charismatic Christianity and Dalit Women in Twenty-First-Century India \ Rebecca Samuel Shah and Timothy Samuel Shah
8. Politics, Education, and Civic Participation: Catholic Charismatic Modernities in the Philippines \ Katharine L. Wiegele
Afterword \ Peter L. Berger

Payton, “Vodou and Protestantism, Faith and Survival”

September 9, 2013

Payton, Claire.  2013.  Vodou and Protestantism, Faith and Survival: The Contest over the Spiritual Meaning of the 2010 Earthquake in Haiti.  Oral History Review.  Advance online publication, no page numbers.

Abstract: This article explores the spiritual dimension of the Haitian earthquake of January 12, 2010, and argues that some of the quake’s most profound reverberations occurred at the level of the spirit. Drawing from oral histories with survivors of the disaster, it reveals that Protestantism and the Catholic-Vodou traditions, which are often seen as being diametrically opposed to each other, actually overlap and influence one another. The development of the Haiti Memory Project, an oral history initiative aimed at documenting the impact and implications of the earthquake among Haiti’s popular classes, is also described. Interviews for this project were conducted in Haitian Kreyòl, French, and English. This article features two embedded audio excerpts (one in French, the other in Haitian Kreyòl), as well as a hyperlink to supplementary audio excerpts, that allow readers to experience the multilingual nature of the project. Additionally, hyperlinks allowing online access to three full interviews from the collection appear at the end of the article.

Marzouki and Roy (eds), “Religious Conversions in the Mediterranean World”

September 9, 2013

Marzouki, Nadia and Olivier Roy (eds).  2013.  Religious Conversions in the Mediterranean World.  New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Publisher’s Description:

While globalization and the European construction increasingly undermine the model of the nation-state in the Mediterranean world, conversions reveal the capacity of religion to disrupt, and unsettle previous understandings of political and social relations. Converts’ claims and practice are often met with the hostility of the state and the public while converts can often be perceived either as traitors or as unconscious and weak tools of foreign manipulation.

Based on first-hand ethnographical research from several countries throughout the Mediterranean region, this book is the first of its kind in studying and analyzing contemporary conversions and their impact on recasting ideas of nationalism and citizenship. In doing so, this interdisciplinary study confronts historical, anthropological, political science and sociological approaches which offers an insight into the national, legal and political challenges of legislating for religious minorities that arise from conversions. Moreover, the specific examination of contemporary religious conversion contributes more widely to debates about the delinking of religion and culture, globalization, and secularism.


1. Evangelicals in the Arab world: the Example of Lebanon; Fatiha Kaoues
2. Purifying the Soul and Healing the Nation, Conversions to Evangelical Protestantism in Algeria; Nadia Marzouki
3. Religious Mobilities in the City: African Migrants and New Christendom in Cairo; Julie Picard
4. Pentecostal Judaism and Ethiopian-Israelis; Don Seeman
5. Ambiguous Conversions: The Selective Adaptation of Religious Cultures in Colonial North Africa; Heather J. Sharkey
6. Converts at work: Confessing a conversion; Loïc Le Pape
7. Being a Black Convert to Judaism in France; Aurélien Mokoko Gampiot
8. Converting to ‘Mormonisms’ in France: a Conversion both Religious and Cultural?; Chrystal Vanel
9. Participating Without Converting, the Case of Muslims Attending St. Anthony’s Church in Istanbul; Benoît Fliche

%d bloggers like this: