Archive for the 'Bibliographic Post' Category

Robbins, Schieffelin, and Vilaça, “Evangelical Conversion and the Transformation of the Self in Amazonia and Melanesia”

July 23, 2014

Robbins, Joel, Bambi B, Schieffelin, and Aparecida Vilaça. 2014. Evangelical Conversion and the Transformation of the Self in Amazonia and Melanesia: Christianity and the Revival of Anthropological Comparison. Comparative Studies in Society and History 56(3):559–590.

Abstract: The last several decades have seen both a renewed anthropological interest in the possibility of cross-cultural comparison and the rapid rise of the anthropology of Christianity. These two trends should be mutually supportive. One of the promises of the anthropology of Christianity from the outset has been that it will allow people to compare how processes of Christianization have unfolded in different parts of the world and to consider how the resulting Christian configurations are similar to and different from one another. But to this point, relatively little detailed comparative empirical work on Christianity has appeared. Our aim here is to contribute to remedying this situation. Drawing on recent theoretical work on comparison, we set comparative work on Christianity on a new footing. Empirically, we examine how processes of Evangelical Christianization have transformed notions of the self in one Amazonian society (Wari’) and two unrelated societies in Melanesia (Bosavi and Urapmin). We define the self for comparative purposes as composed of ideas of the mind or inner self, the body, and relations between people. In our three cases, Christianization has radically transformed these ideas, emphasizing the inner self and downplaying the importance of the body and of social relations. While our empirical conclusions are not wholly unexpected, the extent to which the details of our three cases speak comparatively to one another, and the extent to which the broad processes of Christian transformation they involve are similar, are surprising and lay a promising foundation for future comparative work in the anthropology of Christianity.

Barchas-Lichtenstein, “Jehovah’s Witnesses, endangered languages, and the globalized textual community”

July 22, 2014

Barchas-Lichtenstein. 2014. Jehovah’s Witnesses, endangered languages, and the globalized textual community. Language and Communication DOI: 10.1016/j.langcom.2014.05.006 (pre-publication release)

Abstract: This article explores Jehovah’s Witnesses’ use of Oaxaca Chontal, an endangered language spoken in Mexico. The Witness religion is highly centralized and standardized: Witnesses obeyed instructions to use Chontal because these instructions bore the authority of the Watch Tower Society institution. This article proposes the concept of the globalizing textual community, which synthesizes understandings of community from throughout social science literature, in order to explain how religious identity can supersede national, ethnic, and linguistic identities. A central mechanism of this community is the discourse of the “pure language,” which renders language choice irrelevant even as it provides a warrant for extensive translation.

Yidana, “From Divine Word to Divine Wealth”

May 27, 2014

Yidana, Adadow.  2014. From Divine Word to Divine Wealth: Sociological Analysis of the Developmental Phases of Pentecostal Churches in Ghana.  Asian Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences 2(2): 346-354.

Abstract: There is an ongoing debate regarding the proliferation of Pentecostal churches in Africa and Ghana in particular. Consequently, Pentecostal denominations are seen as routes through which people gain fame and make wealth. Using a data collection in Ghana in the city of Tamale between July and December 2013, this paper provides an analysis of the different developmental phases of Pentecostal churches in Ghana. The results points to an increasing numbers of Pentecostal churches in Ghana. This increased is partly due to the increasing number of educated elites who have taken advantage of the economic potential in establishing Pentecostal churches. The paper reveals that the real intention of almost all pastors who have planted their churches is to see it grow to become a mega church or reaching a true entrepreneurial stage. The paper further reveals that it is not just a one stop journey, but has to pass through stages before achieving the self fulfilling stage. The paper thus concludes that in as long as the industry remains lucrative, a number of educated elites will join the vacation.

Friedner, “The Church of Deaf Sociality”

February 22, 2014

Friedner, Michele. 2014. The Church of Deaf Sociality: Deaf Churchgoing Practices and “Sign Bread and Butter” in Bangalore, India. Anthropology & Education Quarterly 45(1): 39–53.

Abstract: This article ethnographically analyzes the practices of deaf young adults in Bangalore, India. As sign language is not used by families, schools, or other institutions, the church is a crucial educational space. Churchgoing provides deaf young adults with opportunities to orient themselves toward other deaf young adults, to develop new ideas of self and other, and to value sign language.

Tomlinson, “Bringing Kierkegaard into anthropology”

February 20, 2014

Tomlinson, Matt. 2014. Bringing Kierkegaard into anthropology: repetition, absurdity, and curses in Fiji. American Ethnologist 41(1): 163-175.

Abstract: The Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard offers two concepts that can strengthen anthropological analyses of Christianity. The first is “repetition,“ or the act of “recollecting forward,“ which provides a model of transformation that depends neither on deep continuity nor on decisive break. The second is “absurdity,“ the faithful but painful acceptance of paradox as irreducible to logical resolution, which challenges eudemonic understandings of Christianity as a religion oriented toward comfort and satisfaction. I demonstrate the usefulness of Kierkegaard’s concepts through an analysis of indigenous Fijian Methodists‘ interest in repeatedly engaging with curses from ancestors as a way to overcome them.

Robbins, “Afterword: Let’s keep it awkward: Anthropology, theology, and otherness”

December 15, 2013

Robbins, Joel. 2013. Afterword: Let’s keep it awkward: Anthropology, theology, and otherness. The Australian Journal of Anthropology 24(3):329-337.

Excerpt: This collection of articles is a very welcome surprise. In the years since writing the 2006 essay on anthropology and theology with which all of the articles to some extent engage, I had become resigned to what seemed to the be the likelihood that the dialogue between anthropology and theology was going to be one that at best built very slowly, and at worst was destined hardly to take place. To be sure, there had been some fits and starts kinds of discussions, but nothing much had happened in the way of sustained conversation. Anthropology and theology appeared to me set to continue to go their separate ways without the benefit of much cross-fertilization. The publication of this collection fundamentally alters this picture. Each of its articles is a substantial contribution in its own right, and taken together they indicate in a way no other collection yet has how productive of fresh anthropological ideas encounters with various kinds of theology can be. And in moving decisively beyond a focus solely on the Christian tradition, they also rescue this nascent engagement from becoming a purely parochial one . . .

Film, “God Loves Uganda”

November 12, 2013

Williams, Roger Ross. 2013. God Loves Uganda. 83 min.

Filmaker’s Description:  The feature-length documentary God Loves Uganda is a powerful exploration of the evangelical campaign to change African culture with values imported from America’s Christian Right.

The film follows American and Ugandan religious leaders fighting “sexual immorality” and missionaries trying to convince Ugandans to follow Biblical law.

Mayblin, “The Untold Sacrifice: The Monotony and Incompleteness of Self-Sacrifice in Northeast Brazil”

October 16, 2013

Mayblin, Maya. 2013.  The Untold Sacrifice: The Monotony and Incompleteness of Self-Sacrifice in Northeast Brazil. Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology (early digital release DOI:10.1080/00141844.2013.821513).

Abstract: There is no such thing as an accidental sacrifice. Sacrifice is always pre-meditated, and if not entirely goal-oriented, at the very least inherently meaningful as a process in itself. This paper is about how we might begin to understand sacrifices that do not conform to these rules. It concerns the question: does sacrifice exist outside of its (often) dramatic, self-conscious elaboration? Within the Brazilian Catholic tradition everyday life – ideally characterised by monotonous, undramatic, acts of self-giving – is ‘true sacrifice’. For ordinary Catholics, the challenge is not how to self-sacrifice, but how to make one’s mundane life of self-sacrifice visible whilst keeping one’s gift of suffering ‘free’. In this paper I describe, ethnographically, the work entailed as one of ‘revelation’ and use the problems thrown up to reflect upon both the limits and advantages of Western philosophical versus anthropological understandings of Christian sacrificial practices to date.

 

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

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