Posts Tagged ‘Caribbean’

Alvare, “Haile Selasse and the Gospel of Development”

April 28, 2014

Alvare, Bretton. 2014. Haile Selasse and the Gospel of Development: Hegemony and Faith-Based Development in Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies. The Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology 19(1): 126-147.

AbstractThis article explores the process by which faith-based nongovernmental organizations (FBOs) incorporate, reproduce, and contest hegemonic constructions of development as they attempt to bring the fruits of development to their local communities. The analysis focuses on the National Rastafari Organization (NRO) of Trinidad and Tobago—a small, grassroots FBO, whose leaders designed and implemented a localcommunity development program that, despite being modeled on the Rastafari principles contained in Haile Selassie’s “gospel of development,“ had more in common with the neoliberal national development program being promoted by the Trinidadian government than with the development programs typical of other formal Rastafari organizations in the wider Caribbean region. The NRO did not hold all of the themes, logics, or recommended practices of this gospel of development in the same regard. Instead, their immersion in hegemonic fields led them to seize on those aspects that resonated most with the state discourses of neoliberal participatory development in circulation at the time.

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Chenoweth, “Practicing and Preaching Quakerism”

March 28, 2014

Chenoweth, John M. 2014. Practicing and Preaching Quakerism: Creating a Religion of Peace on a Slavery-era Plantation. American Anthropologist 116()1: 94-109. 

Abstract: A meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (“Quakers”) formed in the British Virgin Islands in the 1740s offers a window onto broader practices of religion making. Equality, simplicity, and peace form a basis for Quaker thought, but in the BVI these ideals intersected with the realities of Caribbean life and the central fact that members also held enslaved Africans. What members did to create Quakerism varied for this group, yet it was nonetheless understood to be a part of the broader community of “Friends.” Practice perspectives are employed here to gain access to seemingly ephemeral religion through the concrete objects of archaeology but also as a means of reconciling variation in practice with the idea of a coherent religion. Here religious identity was negotiated through practices on multiple scales, creating unity via larger-scope practices of writing and reading while the most frequent identifications were local and variable. Written works are often seen to encode a static, “real” version of religion against which actions can be measured, but I will argue that religion is better seen in practice, and here Quakerism was created at least as much in the variable minutia of individual performance as in widely shared documents.

McAlister, “Possessing the Land for Jesus”

March 25, 2014

McAlister, Elizabeth.  2014.  Possessing the Land for Jesus.  In Spirited Things: The Work of “Possession” in Afro-Atlantic Religions, Paul Christopher Johnson, ed.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Excerpt: “The American and Haitian religious actors I follow here are not part of the vast nongovernmental organization complex that has made Port-au-Prince a ‘Republic of NGOs.’  Rather, I am interested in independent missions and congregations that are also linked to global networks.  North American evangelicals, including Haitian Americans in the diaspora, form relationships with Haitian church congregations precisely in the sphere of privatized humanitarian assistance that neoliberal economic policies have created as the primary theater of operations for aid, relief, recovery, rebuilding, and development.  After the quake in Haiti, biblical quotations about land resonated with conflicts over land occupied by tent encampments, competition for international relief monies, and discussions about the best way to rebuild the nation.  It was in this context that dispossessed Pentecostals began to think, speak, and strategize about ‘God’s people possessing the land.'”

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.

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.

Chanting Down the New Jerusalem: Book Review

May 30, 2013

Guadeloupe, Francio. 2009. Chanting Down the New Jerusalem: Calypso, Christianity, and Capitalism in the Caribbean. Berkeley: University of California Press.

By: Brian Howell (Wheaton College)

Beautiful islands of beaches, colorful and fascinating cultures, and delicious tropical cuisine, it is no wonder the economies of the tiny island nations of the Caribbean have become dominated by tourism in their postcolonial history.  At the same time, reading about Caribbean history and politics may produce conflicted feelings about benefiting from the exploitation of the people and their land.  It’s hard to enjoy your Piña Colada if you’re too aware of the colonial history of exploitation behind the excellent service at Club Med.

But are the excellent service, the friendly smiles, and warm welcome just a cover for deep-seated resentment and cultural tension?  As Francio Guadeloupe notes in the conclusion of Chanting Down the New Jerusalem: Calypso, Christianity and Capitalism in the Caribbean, the Caribbean generally is often portrayed in terms of these contrasts: the Caribbean downtrodden and their Western exploiters; neocolonial nationalists struggling against European empire; local religious movements against Christian hegemony; men versus women; Black against White; in short, a “Caribbean that has become paradigmatic for students of Caribbean studies” (206).

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McAlister, Elizabeth (2012) “From Slave Revolt to a Blood Pact with Satan: The Evangelical Rewriting of Haitian History”

May 7, 2012

McAlister, Elizabeth. 2012. “From Slave Revolt to a Blood Pact with Satan: The Evangelical Rewriting of Haitian History” Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses 42(2) [Pagination not available – Pre-publication electronic distribution]

Abstract: Enslaved Africans and Creoles in the French colony of Saint-Domingue are said to have gathered at a nighttime meeting at a place called Bois Caïman in what was both political rally and religious ceremony, weeks before the Haitian Revolution in 1791. The slave ceremony is known in Haitian history as a religio-political event and used frequently as a source of inspiration by nationalists, but in the 1990s, neo-evangelicals rewrote the story of the famous ceremony as a “blood pact with Satan.” This essay traces the social links and biblical logics that gave rise first to the historical record, and then to the neo-evangelical rewriting of this iconic moment. It argues that the confluence of the bicentennial of the Haitian Revolution with the political contest around President Aristide’s policies, the growth of the neo-evangelical Spiritual Mapping movement, and of the Internet, produced a new form of mythmaking, in which neo-evangelicals re-signified key symbols of the event—an oath to a divine force, blood sacrifice, a tree, and group unity—from the mythical grammar of Haitian nationalism to that of neo-evangelical Christianity. In the many ironies of this clash between the political afterlife of a slave uprising with the political afterlife of biblical scripture, Haiti becomes a nation held in captivity, and Satan becomes the colonial power who must be overthrown.

Lewis, “Touloutoutou and Tet Mare Churches”

April 25, 2012

Lewis, Bertin M. Jr. 2012. Touloutoutou and Tet Mare Churches: Language, Class and Protestantism in the Haitian Diaspora of the Bahamas.  Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses 41(1): 1-15.

Abstract: Within Haiti’s growing transnational Protestant community, there are different types of churches and adherents that practice traditional forms of Protestant Christianity (such as the Adventist, Methodist and Baptist faiths) and Pentecostal/Charismatic forms of Protestant Christianity. Using Michèle Lamont’s work on symbolic boundaries, I explore how Haitian Protestants living in New Providence, Bahamas, differentiate these two major Haitian Protestant church cultures through the use of denigrating terms about differing religious traditions. Churches which practice traditional forms of Haitian Protestantism, for example, are sometimes called touloutoutou churches. Churches where Pentecostal/Charismatic forms of Haitian Protestantism are practiced are sometimes referred to as tet mare churches by some Haitian Protestants. In addition, practitioners’ descriptions reflect issues of social class and contested notions of Christian authenticity among Haitian Protestants in the Bahamas.

Farhadian, “Introducing World Christianity”

December 4, 2011

Farhadian, Charles E.  (2012) Introducing World Christianity. Madden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

Publisher’s Description: This interdisciplinary introduction offers students a truly global overview of the worldwide spread and impact of Christianity. It is enriched throughout by detailed historic and ethnographic material, showing how broad themes within Christianity have been adopted and adapted by Christian denominations within each major region of the world.

  • Provides a comprehensive overview of the spread and impact of world Christianity
  • Contains studies from every major region of the world, including Africa, Asia, Latin America, the North Atlantic, and Oceania
  • Brings together an international team of contributors from history, sociology, and anthropology, as well as religious studies
  • Examines the significant social, cultural, and political transformations in contemporary societies brought about through the influence of Christianity
  • Takes a non-theological approach, focusing instead on the impact of and response to Christianity
  • Discusses Protestant, Evangelical, Catholic, and Orthodox forms of the faith
  • Features useful maps and illustrations
  • Combines broader discussions with detailed regional analysis, creating an invaluable introduction to world Christianity

This is an engaging multidisciplinary introduction to the worldwide spread and impact of Christianity. Bringing together chapters from leading scholars in history, sociology, anthropology, and religious studies, this book examines the major transformations in contemporary societies brought about through the influence of Christianity.

Each chapter shows how the broad themes within Christianity have been adopted and adapted by Christian denominations within each major region of the world. In this way, the book paints a global picture of the impact of Christianity, enriched by detailed historic and ethnographic material for each particular region. Throughout, the chapters examine Protestant, Evangelical, Catholic and Orthodox forms of Christianity. The combination of broader perspectives and deep analysis of particular regions, illuminating the social, cultural, political, and religious features of changes brought about by Christianity, makes this book essential reading for students of world Christianity.

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