Posts Tagged ‘Guatemala’

O’Neill, “Beyond Broken: Affective Spaces and the Study of American Religion”

October 26, 2013

O’Neill, Kevin Lewis.  2013. “Beyond Broken: Affective Spaces and the Study of American Religion.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion.  doi: 10.1093/jaarel/lft059 (early digital publication).

Abstract:  This article addresses the politics of space in the study of American religion. Part 1 argues that an attention to broken space, namely an assumed division between the sacred and the profane as well as between the local and the global, limits the kind of political relationships that the scholar can posit between religion and space. Part 2 proposes the term “affective space” as a flexible analytical tool with broad utility for the study of American religion, one that prompts scholars to address those social processes that constitute felt difference amid an unevenly interrelated world. To animate the production of affective spaces, this article draws on more than a decade of ethnographic research in and on postwar Guatemala.

 

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Quiroa, “Missionary Exegesis of the Popol Vuh”

September 24, 2013

Quiroa, Nestor. 2013. Missionary Exegesis of the Popol Vuh: Maya-K’iche’ Cultural and Religious Continuity in Colonial and Contemporary Highland Guatemala. History of Religions 53(1): 66-97.

Article Excerpt:

The decade of the 1990s witnessed the development of two pivotal moments in the modern history of Guatemala. In 1996, ten years of violence and genocide came to an end with the consummation of the Peace Accord, in Oslo, Norway, between the Guatemalan army and the guerrilla insurgency. This internationally monitored cease-fire opened the necessary national space for an indigenous political movement known as the “Movimiento Maya” or pan-Maya Movement. Among the demands of this movement was a call for the redefinition of Guatemala as a multiethnic, pluralistic, and multilingual society, with full political and cultural rights for the Maya peoples.

On a different level, this new national agenda included the recovery, development, and diffusion of Maya spirituality, which, according to activist Maya-Kaqchikel and Presbyterian Victorino Similox, required a fundamental reassessment of Christian theology within the framework of Maya cultural paradigms. The creation of Maya hermeneutics represented one of the most challenging tasks in this process because it entailed rescuing and decoding the necessary symbols, rites, and myths from ancient Maya civilization.At the center of this theological reformulation was the Popol Wuj, or sacred book, of the ancient Maya, which became the heuristic source for knowledge of the ancient word. However, the prominence that this sacred text played in the spiritual life of Maya communities was a point of unresolved contention between Maya Catholics, Maya Protestants, and those Maya committed to ancient religious beliefs. Although this national theological dialogue over the spiritual relevance of the Popol Wuj occurred two decades ago, the theological implications it evoked find deep roots in five hundred years of Christianization of the Maya population of highland Guatemala.

This study takes an unorthodox approach to the Popol Wuj, given that most traditional scholarship focuses exclusively on its mytho-historical content in order to understand the precolonial Maya culture and worldview. This essay, however, aims to complement such approaches by analyzing the Popol Wuj within the two contexts of the spiritual conversion that the highland Guatemala Maya-K’iche’ population endured under the auspices of Catholic and Protestant missionaries. This comparative analysis between the Dominican Friar Francisco Ximénez’s missionary campaign in the seventeenth century and that of the Presbyterian missionaries Paul and Dora Burgess early in the twentieth century provides an opportunity to inquire into how this creation narrative has impacted the missionaries’ mind-set from colonial to modern times. It will be argued that in both cases the Popol Vuh narrative determined the way these missionaries constructed their image of the Maya-K’iche’ peoples, reshaped their theological positions on Maya religious beliefs, and dictated their agendas so as to best convert the native population to Christianity.

Girard, “The outpouring of development”

July 25, 2013

Girard, William. 2013. The outpouring of development: place, prosperity, and the Holy Spirit in Zion Ministries. Religion 43(3): 385-402.

Abstract: This article explores a Pentecostal vision of economic development in Central America and considers how it becomes ‘really real’ for adherents, in part, through a sense of place. These Christians maintain that economic progress can only occur through the direct intervention of the Holy Spirit, whose role in development becomes apparent to them as they encounter a correspondence between three elements at three different churches: the church’s level of prosperity; the intensity of the Holy Spirit; and the level of development associated with the broader locality. The article first describes this development project and explores the town of Copán Ruinas, Honduras – considered the least developed of the three places – and then provides an ethnographic account of all three churches, moving ‘up’ from Copán Ruinas through San Pedro Sula (the wealthiest city in Honduras) and ending in Guatemala City. To track the differences between these churches, the article attends to the variations in texture between them.

O’Neill, “Left Behind”

May 7, 2013

O’Neill, Kevin. 2013. “Left Behind: Security, Salvation, and the Subject of Prevention.” Cultural Anthropology 28(2):204-226.

Abstract: “In North Carolina, a faith-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization facilitates a child sponsorship program that connects North American evangelical Christians with at-risk children in one of postwar Guatemala City’s most violent neighborhoods: La Paloma. Pitched in the name of gang prevention, child sponsors help create a context in which these Guatemalan kids might choose God over gangs. Based on fieldwork in North Carolina and in Guatemala, with both sponsors and the sponsored, this article explores how child sponsorship makes the work of gang prevention dependent on the work of self-cultivation. It is an ethnographic approach attuned to what this article understands as the subject of prevention, that is, the individual imagined and acted upon by the imperative to prevent. This includes at-risk youths, in all their racialized otherness, but also (and increasingly so) North American evangelicals who self-consciously craft their subjectivities through their participation in gang prevention. The subject of prevention’s observable outcome is a kind of segregation with its own spatial logic. The practice of evangelical gang prevention ultimately produces an observable kind of inequality that says something about the surgically selective nature of Central American security today. Some Guatemalan youth connect with North Americans. Others get left behind.”

O’Neill, “The Soul of Security”

November 24, 2012

O’Neill, Kevin Lewis. 2012. The Soul of Security: Christianity, Corporatism, and Control in Postwar Guatemala. Social Text 30(2):21-42.

Abstract: Amid unprecedented rates of deportation as well as an ever-growing gang problem, bilingual call centers have become viable spaces of control in postwar Guatemala. They provide deported ex–gang members with not only well-paying jobs but also a work environment structured by Protestant images and imperatives. Be humble. Be punctual. Be patient. These corporately Christian virtues minister to the deported at every turn, inviting them to assume and become subsumed by ascetic subjectivities. These are monkish dispositions that provide a vital lynchpin between the political, the economic, and the subjective. They also coordinate (at the level of conduct) projects of capitalist accumulation with efforts at regional security. This assemblage of industries and ethics, made in the name of control, is what this article understands as the soul of security.

O’Neill, “Hands of Love”

October 5, 2011

O’Neill, Kevin Lewis. 2011. Hands of Love: Christian Outreach and the Spatialization of Ethnicity. In Securing the City: Neoliberalism, Space, and Insecurity in Postwar Guatemala. Edited by, Kevin Lewis O’Neill and Kedron Thomas. pp.165-192. Durham: Duke University Press.

Hoenes del Pinal, “Towards an Ideology of Gesture”

October 5, 2011

Hoenes del Pina, Eric (2011) “Towards an Ideology of Gesture: Gesture, Body Movement, and Language Ideology Among Q’eqchi’-Maya Catholics” Anthropological Quarterly 84(3):595-630.

Abstract: While much attention has been paid to how linguistic practices and language ideologies shape local forms of Christianity, relatively little attention has been paid to the role that non-verbal communicative codes and people’s ideas about them play in these same processes. This paper analyzes the gestural and bodily practices of Q’eqchi’-Maya Catholics belonging to two denominations (Mainstream and Charismatic Catholicism) to argue that non-linguistic practices play a significant role in constructing and performing moral and religious identities. I argue that because local discourses about what constitutes appropriate bodily behavior in religious rituals invoke some of the same kinds of value judgments and are predicated on the same semiotic processes as metalinguistic discourses, a fuller understanding of how language ideologies underpin Christian subjectivities needs to take into account how a wide range of communicative practices relate to each other.

A part of the special issue Beyond Logos: Extensions of the Language Ideology Paradigm in the Study of Global Christianity (-ies)

O’Neill, “Delinquent Realities”

October 3, 2011

O’Neill, Kevin Lewis. 2011. “Delinquent Realities: Christianity, Formality, and Security in the Americas.” American Quarterly 63(2: 337-365.

Abstract: In response to growing postwar violence in Guatemala, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) cosponsored a reality television show in which ten former gang members were split into two teams, each of which was expected to build a sustainable business within Guatemala’s formal economy. This competition modeled a kind of entrepreneurial self-fashioning that relied on Christian images and imperatives to “formalize” the show’s reportedly delinquent participants. Based on several years of ethnographic fieldwork in Central and North America, this article explores how this Christian self-fashioning dramatizes an increasingly popular strategy for gang prevention and intervention throughout the Americas: regional security by way of good Christian living. Christianity today has become entangled with the geopolitics of American security, especially when it comes to efforts at gang abatement, linking the illegal activities of transnational criminal networks to the morality of individual men and women.

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