Posts Tagged ‘Missions’

Hovland, “Mission Station Christianity”

November 6, 2013
Hovland, Ingie. 2013. Mission Station Christianity: Norwegian Missionaries in Colonial Natal and Zululand, Southern Africa 1850-1890. Boston: Brill. 

Publisher’s Description: In Mission Station Christianity, Ingie Hovland presents an anthropological history of the ideas and practices that evolved among Norwegian missionaries in nineteenth-century colonial Natal and Zululand (Southern Africa). She examines how their mission station spaces influenced their daily Christianity, and vice versa, drawing on the anthropology of Christianity. Words and objects, missionary bodies, problematic converts, and the utopian imagination are discussed, as well as how the Zulus made use of (and ignored) the stations. The majority of the Norwegian missionaries had become theological cheerleaders of British colonialism by the 1880s, and Ingie Hovland argues that this was made possible by the everyday patterns of Christianity they had set up and become familiar with on the mission stations since the 1850s.

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Crossland, “Signs of Mission: Material Semeiosis and Nineteenth-Century Tswana Architecture”

August 27, 2013

Crossland, Zoë.  2013.  “Signs of Mission: Material Semeiosis and Nineteenth-Century Tswana Architecture.” Signs and Society 1(1):79-113.

Abstract: The missionary encounter between the London Missionary Society and Sotho-Tswana communities of southern Africa has been explored by Jean and John Comaroff as work that took place at the level of both signs and practices. In this article, I consider what a Peircean semeiotic might offer to this narrative. I argue that it provides ways to disrupt the sometimes binary relationship of signs and practices while also providing opportunities for productive interdisciplinary conversations about the affective, material, and processual nature of changes in belief and practice.

Montero, “The Contribution of Post-colonial Critique”

May 1, 2013

Montero, Paula.  2012.  The Contribution of Post-colonial Critique to an Anthropology of Missions.  Religion and Society 3(1): 115-129.

Abstract:  When compared to the extensive historiography on missionary activity, the anthropology of missions is a relative newcomer, emerging as such in the context of the recent critique of the colonial system. In view of the importance of historiographical literature in outlining the subject, on the one hand, and of the impact of the decolonization of the African continent on anthropology, on the other hand, my purposes in this essay are, firstly, to examine how the historiography of colonial America and of African colonialism has handled the subject of missions; secondly, to describe the role of missionary activity in the historiographical debate in the context of the crisis of colonialism; and, lastly, to analyze how post-colonial critique has given rise to a new anthropology of missions.

Thomson, “Christianity, Islam, and ‘The Religion of Pouring’: Non-linear Conversion in a Gambia/Casamance Borderland”

October 10, 2012

Thomson, Steven (2012) “Christianity, Islam, and ‘The Religion of Pouring’: Non-linear Conversion in a Gambia/Casamance Borderland.” Journal of Religion in Africa 42(3):240-276 

Abstract: The twentieth-century religious history of the Kalorn (Karon Jolas) in the Alahein River Valley of the Gambia/Casamance border cannot be reduced to a single narrative. Today extended families include Muslims, Christians, and practitioners of the traditional Awasena ‘religion of pouring’. A body of funeral songs highlights the views of those who resisted pressure toward conversion to Islam through the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s. The introduction of a Roman Catholic mission in the early 1960s created new social and economic possibilities that consolidated an identity that stood as an alternative to the Muslim-Mandinka model. This analysis emphasizes the equal importance of both macropolitical and economic factors and the more proximal effects of reference groups in understanding religious conversion. Finally, this discussion of the origins of religious pluralism within a community grants insight into how conflicts along religious lines have been defused.

Howell, “Short-Term Mission: An Ethnography of Christian Travel Narrative and Experience”

August 14, 2012

Howell, Brian (2012) Short-Term Mission: An Ethnography of Christian Travel Narrative and Experience. Downers Groves, Illinois: IVP Academic Press.

Publisher’s Description: Over the past few decades, short-term mission trips have exploded in popularity. With easy access to affordable air travel, millions of American Christians have journeyed internationally for ministry, service and evangelism. Short-term trips are praised for involving many in global mission but also critiqued for their limitations.

Despite the diversity of destinations, certain universal commonalities emerge in how mission trip participants describe their experiences: “My eyes were opened to the world’s needs.” “They ministered to us more than we ministered to them.” “It changed my life.”

Anthropologist Brian Howell explores the narrative shape of short-term mission (STM). Drawing on the anthropology of tourism and pilgrimage, he shows how STM combines these elements with Christian purposes of mission to create its own distinct narrative. He provides a careful historical survey of the development of STM and then offers an in-depth ethnographic study of a particular mission trip to the Dominican Republic. He explores how participants remember and interpret their experiences, and he unpacks the implications for how North American churches understand mission, grapple with poverty and relate to the larger global church.

A groundbreaking book for all who want to understand how and why American Christians undertake short-term mission.

Dundon, “The Gateway to the Fly: Christianity, Continuity, and Spaces of Conversion in Papua New Guinea”

February 26, 2012

Dundon, Alison (2012) “The Gateway to the Fly: Christianity, Continuity, and Spaces of Conversion in Papua New Guinea” in Lenore Manderson, Wendy Smith, & Matt Tomlinson (eds) Flows of Faith: Religious Reach and Community in Asia and the Pacific (Springer, New York).

Abstract: By foregrounding space and the role it plays in the experience and recollection of conversion, Dundon illustrates how people conceptualise conversion to Christianity as meaningful. Her analysis of cultural continuity in terms of the parallels between practices and experiences of the ancestors and those of the missionaries draws attention to the importance of the places in which Gogodala live and move, and how they imagine the place to which they will travel to when they die (Wabila/Heaven). Conversion to Christianity, instigated by UFM missionaries and the establishment of the first UFM stations, churches and educational and health facilities, is perceived as a rupture, but not as traumatic and destructive. Rather, conversion is understood as a disjuncture between ‘before’ (when the ancestors did not know where they came from and its significance) and ‘now’ (when this has been revealed to them over time and through the spaces opened up between mission, church and community).

de Hontheim, “Devil Chasers and Art Gatherers”

January 20, 2012

de Hontheim, Astrid (2012) Devil Chasers and Art Gatherers. Cortil-Wodon, E.M.E.

Publisher’s Abstract: This book studies the socio-cultural changes that occurred among the Asmat people (West Papua) during the postcolonial era, after the arrival of the first missionary in 1953. It compares Catholic and Protestant missionary strategies of conversion and the way the Asmat coped with newcomers’settlement on their land, evangelization, Indonesian political hierarchies,market economy, ‘tribal’ art collectors, schooling and Western etiologies. Despite considerable academic interest in this area, regrettably few contemporary researchers in anthropology have published field-work based studies of the people of West Papua, unlike neighboring Papua New Guinea. We can hope that this book will encourage young researchers to dedicate themselves to research in this rapidly changing part of the world.

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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