Posts Tagged ‘Fiji’

Tomlinson, “Ritual Textuality”

March 23, 2014

Tomlinson, Matt. 2014. Ritual Textuality: Pattern and Motion in Performance. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

Publisher’s Description: A classic question in studies of ritual is how ritual performances achieve-or fail to achieve-their effects. In this pathbreaking book, Matt Tomlinson argues that participants condition their own expectations of ritual success by interactively creating distinct textual patterns of sequence, conjunction, contrast, and substitution. Drawing on long-term research in Fiji, the book presents in-depth studies of each of these patterns, taken from a wide range of settings: a fiery, soul-saving Pentecostal crusade; relaxed gatherings at which people drink the narcotic beverage kava; deathbeds at which missionaries eagerly await the signs of good Christians’ “happy deaths”; and the monologic pronouncements of a military-led government determined to make the nation speak in a single voice. In each of these cases, Tomlinson also examines the broad ideologies of motion which frame participants’ ritual actions, such as Pentecostals’ beliefs that effective worship requires ecstatic movement like jumping, dancing, and clapping, and nineteenth-century missionaries’ insistence that the journeys of the soul in the afterlife should follow a new path. By approaching ritual as an act of “entextualization”-in which the flow of discourse is turned into object-like texts-while analyzing the ways people expect words, things, and selves to move in performance, this book presents a new and compelling way to understand the efficacy of ritual action.

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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.

Morgain, “Living Water”

February 7, 2014

Morgain, Rachel. 2014. Living Water: Christian Theologies and Interethnic Relations in Fiji. The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology 15(1): 65-84.

Abstract: In multiethnic Fiji, where ethnic relations are often seen as fraught and potentially charged with conflict, and where religion closely follows lines of ethnicity, attempts by Christian churches to mediate interethnic relations and build multiethnic congregations can face difficult challenges. In this article, two contrasting Christian theologies are explored, both of which draw on theologies of water as a means of mediating interethnic engagements. In these examples, processes of forging interethnic relationships are seen as variously harmonious and dissonant, unifying and separating. Drawing connections between the layered imagery of water employed in these Christian contexts and wider Pacific imaginaries of water in baptism and in the ocean, I explore these shifting processes of forging interethnic relationships in the contested context of contemporary Fiji.

Tomlinson, “God Speaking to God: Translation and unintelligibility at a Fijian Pentecostal crusade”

January 3, 2013

Tomlinson, Matt. 2012. “God Speaking to God: Translation and unintelligibility at a Fijian Pentecostal crusade”  The Australian Journal of Anthropology 23(3):274–289

Abstract: In December 2008, a team of American Pentecostals visited Fiji and conducted ‘crusades’ in a public park. In this article, I show how a sermon and altar call at one of the performances modelled for listeners a particular quality of the believer’s relation to the otherness of God, figured via linguistic otherness. The American preacher and his Fijian translator approached the event as a teaching opportunity. They explained to audience members how to pray for repentance and how to speak in tongues (glossolalia) and stated that when a person spoke in tongues, this was really the Holy Ghost ‘praying through’ a person. In glossolalia, the words are supposed to be semantically unintelligible, pointing to the otherworldly, even miraculous, fact of their utterance; but pragmatically, their utterance is supposed to manifest the Holy Ghost’s presence in the speaker, and this presence is held to be the meaning that matters.

Tomlinson, “Generation of the Now”

December 3, 2012

Tomlinson, Matt. 2012. The Generation of the Now: Denominational Politics in Fijian Christianity. In Christian Politics in Oceania, eds. Matt Tomlinson and Debra McDougall. London: Berghahn Books.

Ryle, “Burying the Past-Healing the Land”

June 5, 2012

Ryle, Jacqueline. 2012. Burying the Past-Healing the Land: ritualising reconciliation in Fiji. Archives de sciences sociales des religions. 157(1):89-111.

Abstract: This article discusses a high-profile traditional reconciliation ceremony staged in Fiji in November 2003. It describes how human agency is reflected in the state of the land and in people’s social relations, past and present; how human agency is seen to spiritually disturb or reconcile the land, its innate ancestral powers and their influence on people’s relations and the land; and how the efficacy of ancestral spirituality of the land may affect change, punishing or rewarding people’s actions. And it discusses how the power of the Holy Spirit can bring about change through exorcising the land of ancestral spiritual power and un-blocking what Pentecostal Christians describe as demonic spiritual strongholds.

Tomlinson, “Passports to Eternity: Whales’ Teeth and Transcendence in Fijian Methodism”

February 21, 2012

Tomlinson, Matt (2012) “Passports to Eternity: Whales’ Teeth and Transcendence in Fijian Methodism,” in Lenore Manderson, Wendy Smith, & Matt Tomlinson (eds) Flows of Faith: Religious Reach and Community in Asia and the Pacific (Springer, New York).

Abstract: Christianity is often considered a religion of transcendence, in which divinity “goes beyond” human space and time. Recent anthropological scholarship has noted, however, that claims to transcendence must be expressed materially. This chapter examines the ways in which Fijian Methodists attempt to achieve a kind of Christian transcendence in which they escape negative influences of the vanua (land, chiefdoms, and the “traditional” order generally). They do so by offering sperm whales’ teeth to church authorities in order to apologise and atone for the sins of ancestors. Such rituals do not achieve the transcendence they aim for, however, as the whales’ teeth–the material tokens offered to gain divine favour–gain their ritual value precisely because of their attachment to the vanua.

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