Posts Tagged ‘Emotion’

Brennan, “Take Control: The Labor of Immediacy in Yoruba Christian Music”

January 6, 2013

Brennan, Vicki. 2012. “Take Control: The Labor of Immediacy in Yoruba Christian Music.” Journal of Popular Music Studies 24(4):411–429.

Excerpt: “While an analytic focus on the semiotic techniques whereby media produce immediacy is crucial to analyzing the social processes by which those media are themselves made invisible in experience, such an analysis only goes so far in elucidating the “creativity and control of human subjects” that Eisenlohr argues is erased in such processes. Therefore, in this article, I emphasize the discipline and disciplining work as well as the ethical practices that make such cultural and social processes possible. I do so through an analytic emphasis on what I call the labor of immediacy, that is, the practices whereby human subjects discipline themselves and rehearse the necessary actions that allow the mediated nature of immediate religious experiences to disappear. I argue that the perceived spontaneity of musical performance as well as the practical techniques through which religious sound artifacts are performed in new contexts in order to produce connections and circulate values, all rest on this labor of immediacy.

More specifically, in this article, I examine the labor of immediacy that underlies the use of sound recording and playback technology in facilitating and enhancing religious experiences and worship practices for members of the Cherubim and Seraphim Ayọ ni o Church in Lagos, Nigeria. The Ayọ ni o Church is a branch of the Cherubim and Seraphim Church Movement—a form of Yoruba independent Christianity. This movement began in colonial Nigeria, when early Yoruba Christians broke away from mission churches to establish congregations of their own. The Cherubim and Seraphim emphasized healing through prayer, Holy Spirit baptism, and charismatic forms of worship that featured the extensive use of music and dance. The Ayọ ni o Church is located in a large compound at the edge of Surulere, a predominantly Yoruba, middle-class suburb of Lagos. Each Sunday more than three thousand people attend worship services at the Ayọ ni o Church, many of them attracted by the church’s reputation for including spiritually powerful and emotional musical performances in their worship. This musical reputation was enhanced by the Ayọ ni o choir’s commercially produced and distributed recordings, along with the music videos and other promotional materials that support their recordings.

More than thirty albums have been recorded by the Ayọ ni o Choir since 1978. These recordings reproduce and circulate aesthetic values central to producing religious belonging and ethical forms of personhood. As I discuss in more detail below, the recordings thus play an important role in the everyday religious practices of church members. However, the recordings did not replace live musical performance during worship services. While worship without instruments—no guitars, keyboard, or even drums—was acceptable, worship without singing was inconceivable. The idea that there were living people in the same space as oneself, participating in a shared musical ritual, was important for ensuring the success of worship both in terms of its ability to provoke appropriate emotional responses from the congregation as well as in terms of attracting the Holy Spirit to enter the worship space. Therefore, while the songs on the recordings played an important role in church worship, they were always represented in the form of live performance.

In order to analytically detail the labor of immediacy that underlies and produces religious musical experiences for church members, I explore here how the recordings are used by choir musicians in their everyday lives, in individual musical practice, and in rehearsals. I describe how through the musical labor of training, practice, and rehearsal the choir members engage with the recordings in order to regulate affective and emotional responses and expressions during church worship. Their recontextualization of previously recorded songs does important spiritual work for church members by creating links between aesthetic and religious values and allowing those values to be recirculated through the community. While such performances may seem spontaneous in the context of church worship, in order for the recontextualization of a previously recorded song to be successful in achieving the spiritual goals of the congregation, a great deal of planning and work takes place.

In this article, I explore how the work of choir musicians during practice and rehearsals makes possible the recontextualization of recorded sounds during Yoruba Christian worship. Through disciplinary practices of listening and music-making that make use of the recordings, church musicians attune themselves to particular modes of behavior and produce appropriate forms of emotionality. These emotional responses can then be summoned contextually by church members in relation to a given situation. As I suggest in the conclusion of this article, these disciplined forms of emotion and embodiment are seen as necessary to survive and thrive in the midst of the uncertainty provoked by the political and economic transitions taking place in contemporary Nigeria.”

Pearce, “Reconstructing Sexuality in the Shadow of Neoliberal Globalization: Investigating the Approach of Charismatic Churches in Southwestern Nigeria”

December 13, 2012

Pearce, Tola Olu. 2012.”Reconstructing Sexuality in the Shadow of Neoliberal Globalization: Investigating the Approach of Charismatic Churches in Southwestern Nigeria.” Journal of Religion in Africa 42(4):345-368.

Abstract: This study examines how Charismatic churches in southwestern Nigeria are attempting to construct new social identities through their doctrines on marriage and sexual practices specifically constructed to set them apart from other social groups. I argue that these perspectives on sexuality revolve around narratives of the body, sexual desire, and conjugal sexual pleasure within monogamous marriages. The strong rejection of polygyny and other sexual discourses are linked to the global exchange of ideas. I make the case that an important device for developing these identities is emotion training and a vision for both public and private behavior. This study is a textual analysis of written and audio material that lays bare their theories and practices. The data reveal a focus on shaping sexual desire and building conjugal love, trust, and respect, but the training also molds other emotions such as fear, guilt, and shame.

Beatty, “The Tell-Tale Heart”

August 13, 2012

Beatty, Andrew.  2012.  The Tell-Tale Heart: Conversion and Emotion in Nias.  Ethnos 1:1-26.

Abstract: In this article, I use historical and ethnographic data to analyse the Great Repentance, a violently emotional conversion movement that swept through the Indonesian island of Nias from colonial conquest around 1915, with recurrences until the 1960s. Against rationalist and materialist explanations, I argue for a constitutive role for emotion in the conversion process. I show how the techniques and idioms of Protestant missionaries suppressed indigenous meanings and encouraged a native emphasis on ‘the speaking heart’. The existential dilemmas of modern Christians in Nias, their sense of exclusion, can be accounted for by the paradoxical ethical and affective legacy of the repentance movement. The article is a contribution to both the study of emotion in historical perspective and to the analysis of conversion.

Elisha, “Prayer”

January 7, 2012

Elisha, Omri (2012) “Prayer.” Freq.uenci.es: A Collaborative Genealogy of Spirituality.

Excerpt: “I lied to a dying man, although I meant every word. It’s a strange thing, to say you intend to do something that you don’t really intend to do, yet feeling as though the words themselves are embraced in such uncompromised truth that they actually exceed their indexical meaning. If there is spirituality in promises, prayers, and praise, can there also be spirituality in the excellence of the lie?”

Yang, “Death, Emotion, and Social Change among the Austronesian-speaking Bunun of Taiwan”

January 6, 2012

 Yang, Shu-Yuan (2011) “Death, Emotions, and Social Change among the Austronesian-Speaking Bunun of Taiwan” Southeast Asian Studies 49(2):214-239

Abstract; Focusing on the analysis of mortuary rites, this article explores how the Bunun, an Austronesian-speaking indigenous people of Taiwan, conceptualize and deal with death in particular historical contexts. It suggests that death rituals should not be treated as self-contained wholes or closed symbolic systems but as busy intersections of multiple social processes. The paper examines how colonial policies and the introduction of Christianity have transformed the ways in which death is dealt with among the Bunun, and how they continue to pose questions on how to deal with rage in grief for this formerly headhunting group by pro- ducing hesitations and disagreements over the moral and social propriety of alternative ritual forms. When the consequences of social change are taken seriously, the extent to which ritual forms organize and shape the experience of mourning needs to be reconsidered.

Goluboff, “Making African American Homeplaces”

October 24, 2011

Goluboff, Sascha L. 2011. Making African American Homeplaces in Rural Virginia. Ethos 39(3):368-394.

Abstract: In this article, I propose that anthropologists of Christianity broaden their understanding of emotion to include intense attachments to home and kin as central to cultivating faith. I use examples from my research with African Americans who continue to live on land purchased by their emancipated ancestors and attend a United Methodist church established by those same ancestors in rural Western Virginia. I suggest that theoretical attention to this worldly home, as well as to God, is key to understanding the process of belief. It opens up the possibility of seeing emotional connection as a catalyst for political awareness and change, and it also brings gender and generational relations into sharp focus. Ultimately, I argue that the maintenance of such African American religious and secular homeplaces works to challenge the legacies of racism in the rural South.

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