Posts Tagged ‘Anthropology of Christianity’

Kollman, “World-Historical Turn in the History of Christianity and Theology”

June 24, 2014

Kollman, Paul. 2014. Understanding the World-Christian Turn in the History of Christianity and Theology. Theology Today. 71(2): 164-177.

Abstract: Growth in Christianity has spurred the appearance of the subfield of world Christianity, whose assumptions increasingly shape scholarship on Christianity. What I term the world-Christian turn, which is often linked to mission studies, yields more comprehensive approaches to the Christian past, connecting local histories of Christian communities to larger-scale historical movements and producing innovative comparative perspectives on Christianity past and present. In Catholic theology, this turn has encouraged new comparative and contextual theologies. Yet support for Christian mission and the world-Christian turn need not go together. Two cases in point: comparative theology tends to eschew mission while the work of Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, is suspicious of some impulses behind the world-Christian turn and their potential for undermining Christian mission. Such cases notwithstanding, I argue that missiology is a promising resource for the field of world Christianity.


Coleman, “Afterword: De-exceptionalising Islam.”

December 15, 2012

Coleman, Simon. 2012. “Afterword: De-exceptionalising Islam.” In Articulating Islam: Anthropological Approaches to Muslim Worlds. Edited by Magnus Marsden and Bryan Turner, 247-258. New York: Springer.

Excerpt:  “The point here is not to argue, in procrustean fashion, that, far from being irredeemably ‘Other’, Islam actually turns out to be just like other world religions, such as Christianity. This kind of claim – a kind of Orientalism replaced by a form of intellectual McDonaldization – would combine ethnographic naivety with a contradiction of this volume’s message concerning Islam’s ‘immanent’ resistance to being separated out into an autonomous realm of belief and action. However, such reflections should lead us to a question raised about the anthropology of any world religion, once we start to worry at ‘exceptionalisms’ or ‘essentialisms’: what is actually gained by confining our theoretical questions and comparisons to cases relating to any single religion? This issue is raised forcefully by Chris Hann (2007:402) in relation to the burgeoning anthropology of Christianity, where he criticizes the idealism behind calls to explore the ‘cultural logic’ of the religion, and indeed questions (ibid.:406) Joel Robbins’s attempt (2003) to present the anthropology of Islam as exemplary for that of Christianity. Hann summarizes Robbins’s approach as stating that ‘similar progress [to that made on Islam] might be made with Christianity if all those working on Christian groups were to prioritize the theme of religion and engage systematically with each others’ work’ (Hann 2007:406). By ways of contrast, Hann challenges the very idea of demarcating one world religion as a suitable domain for comparison, and argues instead for an approach that proceeds on the basis of identifying analytical problems (such as Christian and non-Christian ideas of transcendence, Catholic versus Muslim notions of mediation, and so on). In some respects, we already see this approach played out in the present volume. For instance Retsikas invokes the work of Thomas Csordas (1994) on charismatic Catholicism in juxtaposing Charismatic and experiences of the immanent presence of the divine. Gabriele vom Bruck’s invocation of David Freedberg’s The Power of Images, (1989) in her discussion of photographic representations of women also opens a window to the kind of comparative observations that Freedberg himself makes . . .. “

Sarró, Ramon: “Postscript: The Love Boat, or the Elementary Forms of Charismatic Life.”

December 14, 2012

Sarró, Ramon. 2012. “The Love Boat, or the Elementary Forms of Charismatic Life. Journal of Religion in Africa 42(4):453-459.

Excerpt: “Here I want to take the opportunity to suggest that the study of charisma is not a rupture with any other form of previous anthropology of religion but, in many ways, a refreshing return to the founding fathers of the discipline such as Durkheim, whose centenary I am celebrating with my subtitle. I also want to suggest that new forms of African religion are experienced by their believers not as a rupture but sometimes as a return to a purer and very old form of religion that Africans have forgotten via a destructive combination of internal and external agencies. The return to a ‘forgotten God’ is a common theme in several trends of prophetic Christianity and also of Islam, though less explicit in Pentecostal discourses. . . “

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.

Schröder “Catholic Majority Societies and Religious Hegemony: Concepts and Comparisons

March 13, 2012

Schröder, Ingo W.  (2012).  “Catholic Majority Societies and Religious Hegemony: Concepts and Comparisons” in Milda Alisauskiene and Ingo W. Schroeder (eds) Religious Diversity in Post-Soviet Society: Ethnographies of Catholic Hegemony and the New Pluralism in Lituania (Burlington, VT: Ashgate).

This chapter sets out to sketch a theoretical framework for the study of the religious environment of a society like Lithuania that is dominated by a single church.  The emergent anthropology of Christianity has paid comparatively little attention to the political dimension of religious affiliation in general and Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant majority churches in particular.  An earlier interest in majority-minority relations and politics of religious authority has been obliterated by a focus on meaning and culture.  Only recently has the study of dominant churches and the specific societal ramifications of this dominance experienced a minor revival in the context of the resurgence of such institutions in Eastern Europe after the demise of socialism.  This chapter hopes to make a contribution to this literature.

Jørgensen, “The Anthropology of Christianity and Missiology”

December 7, 2011

Jørgensen, Jonas (2011) “Anthropology of Christianity and Missiology: Disciplinary Contexts, Converging Themes, and Future Tasks of Mission Studies” Mission Studies 28(2):186-208

Abstract: The anthropology of Christianity is claimed to be a recent innovation in the discipline of social anthropology and focuses on the study of Christian forms of life. The purpose of this paper is threefold: first, to identify the nature of the anthropology of Christianity; second, to focus on converging themes in the anthropology of Christianity and missiology as academic disciplines; and third, to offer an interpretation of what such convergence might imply for the future of missiology.

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