Posts Tagged ‘personhood’

Mafra, “Saintliness and Sincerity”

December 20, 2011

Mafra, Clara Cristina Jost. 2011. Saintliness and Sincerity in the Formation of the Christian Person. Ethnos 76(4): 448-468.

Abstract: Taking into account the composition of Pentecostalism – a mixture of, on one side, a Protestant tradition that allows the constitution of the ‘sincere person’, and, on the other side, the enchanted aspects of personhood – what happens when this message is disseminated in a context with a long Catholic tradition by ‘translators’ socialized in the Catholic culture; in other words, by people with a particular interpretation of the Protestant tradition? In this article, the author explores this question and shows how the Catholic framing impacts the arrangements for accommodating the semiotic ideologies of ‘sincerity’ and ‘saintliness’ within Pentecostal religiosity, resulting in singular manifestations of the collective project and of the regional Christian Person.

Rynkiewich, “Do We Need a Postmodern Anthropology for Mission in a Postcolonial World?”

December 7, 2011

Rynkiewich, Michael (2010) “Do We Need a Postmodern Anthropology for Mission in a Postcolonial World?” Mission Studies 28(2):151-169

Abstract: There was a time when mission studies benefitted from a symbiotic relationship with the social sciences. However, it appears that relationship has stagnated and now is waning. The argument is made here, in the case of cultural anthropology both in Europe and the United States, that a once mutually beneficial though sometimes strained relationship has suffered a parting of the ways in recent decades. First, the article reviews the relationships between missionaries and anthropologists before World War II when it was possible to be a `missionary anthropologist’ with a foot in both disciplines. In that period, the conversation went two ways with missionary anthropologists making important contributions to anthropology. Then, the article reviews some aspects of the development of the two disciplines after World War II when increasing professionalism in both disciplines and a postmodern turn in anthropology took the disciplines in different directions. Finally, the article asks whether or not the conversation, and thus the cross-fertilization, can be restarted, especially since the youngest generation of anthropologists has recognized the reality of local Christianities in their fields of study.

Jackson, “God’s law indeed is there to protect you from yourself”

November 15, 2011

Jackson, Jennifer (2011) ” ‘God’s law indeed is there to protect you from yourself’: The Christian personal testimonial as narrative and moral schemata to the US political apology” Language and Communication [No pagination; advanced corrected proof version]

Abstract: This paper examines the deployment of semiotic devices in several mass-mediated public apologies by US politicians and the reflexive awareness of apology as commodity in national political contexts. Beyond acts of contrition and deliverance from the clutches of sin, apology events are extremely dialogical, salient modes of sociality that reach across, arbitrate, and bond multiple publics. The paper examines how speakers toggle between particular chronotopes—of time, place, and personhood—to both shape and reflect particular presentation and participation frameworks. Of certain interest is how the Protestant testimonial informs the apology, makes way for, even necessitates future transgression as it shifts proximity between the sin of the Lost and the testimony of the Found, reinstating membership in and reinforcing a moral public.

Luedke “Intimacy and Alterity”

October 6, 2011

Luedke, Tracy (2011) Intimacy and Alterity: Prophetic Selves and Spirit Others in Central Mozambique Journal of Religion in Africa 41(2):154-179

Abstract: In the context of Mozambican prophet healing, spirit-host relationships unfold between intimacy and alterity. The interweaving of spirits’ and hosts’ biographies in possession is enacted bodily in the form of pains, postures, and punishments, and often pits their wills and well-beings against one another. Spirit possession is an intimate exchange, a bodily and social confluence that invokes the most familiar of interpersonal relationships (spouses, parents and their children). On the other hand, the natures, motives, and agendas of the spirits often remain opaque. As prophets struggle to make sense and make use of the spirits who possess them, the power of the spirits reveals itself in their unknowability and contrariness, the elusiveness and partiality of their profiles. These intimate others both threaten and succor their hosts, to whom they are both kin and strangers, and it is through this dialectic that their special vantage on human suffering comes into view.

Werbner, “The Charismatic Dividual and the Sacred Self”

October 6, 2011

Werbner, Richard (2011) “The Charismatic Dividual and the Sacred Self” Journal of Religion in Africa 41(2):180-205

Abstract: The notion of `a break with the past’ foregrounds the individual as the new person reborn in Christian churches. Against that, across southern Africa Apostolic churches still face moral and metaphysical predicaments of the person being individual and, alternatively, dividual. The dividual is here taken to be someone who is composite or partible and permeated by others’ emotions and shared substances, including body dirt or sexual and other fluids. These personal predicaments are often experienced as dangerously unsettling—in need of careful spiritual regard, guidance and inspired remedy lest the person suffer ill-being, perhaps even occult harm. Dividuality opens the vulnerable person both to witchcraft attack (enemies may use organic bits for occult purposes, with malicious intent) and to pollution in contact with birth and death. In response, Apostolic church services constitute reformation. They reject indigenous tradition in forms of occult practice with charms and organic medicines—it is a sinful tradition, against God’s commandments and not Christian—but they do not deny the existence of witchcraft; nor do they start wholly afresh, even with the baptised. Apostolics find themselves earthly beings needing help and protection from God in heaven. As faithful Christians and hopeful of temporary relief, they confront the predicaments of alternative personhood within an ongoing war of good and evil. To get closer to God, if only vicariously, Apostolics turn to charismatic prophets as mediators through whom the Word of God can be heard, effectively and powerfully, and whose very bodies speak revealingly, in the gestures and postures of trance, to the needy condition of the faithful. Following a comparison with Catholic Charismatics in New England, this article addresses linguistic and phenomenological questions of Word, self and other with evidence from observed prophetic mediation by young men in séances of Eloyi, a transnational Apostolic church, and its offshoot church, Connolius, at Botswana’s capital. Included are issues of awesome narration, vicarious suffering, empathy with others, sacred cosmetics, and visionary realization.

Faubion, “An Anthropology of Ethics”

October 6, 2011

Faubion, James D. (2011) An Anthropology of Ethics Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Publisher’s Description: Through an ambitious and critical revision of Michel Foucault’s investigation of ethics, James Faubion develops an original program of empirical inquiry into the ethical domain. From an anthropological perspective, Faubion argues that Foucault’s specification of the analytical parameters of this domain is the most productive point of departure in conceptualizing its distinctive features. He further argues that Foucault’s framework is in need of substantial revision to be of genuinely anthropological scope. In making this revision, Faubion illustrates his program with two extended case studies: one of a Portuguese marquis and the other of a dual subject made up of the author and a millenarian prophetess. The result is a conceptual apparatus that is able to accommodate ethical pluralism and yield an account of the limits of ethical variation, providing a novel resolution of the problem of relativism that has haunted anthropological inquiry into ethics since its inception.

Bialecki, “No Caller ID for the Soul”

October 5, 2011

Bialecki, Jon (2011) “No Caller ID for the Soul: Demonization, Charisms, and the Unstable Subject of Protestant Language Ideology” Anthropological Quarterly 84(3):679-703

Abstract: The ethnography of Christianity has only one area where a sort of Khunian “normal science” has been achieved: Christian Language practices has been agreed on as a topic of vital and sustained ethnographic interest, and is usually understood analytically as being shaped by a referentially oriented, individuating “Christian [or, at times, Protestant] Language Ideology.” Relying on a review of the ethnographic literature regarding Christian Language use, and on an impromptu deliverance from demons observed during fieldwork with “The Vineyard,” a Southern California originated but now world-wide Church Planting movement, this article argues that such an understanding is not wrong, but only partially apprehends the relevant dynamics of language use. This piece posits that Christian language use can be understood by delineating two sharply contrasting, but both valued, forms of speech—”centripetal” and “centrifugal”—each of which has different implicit concerns about the importance of self-identity and the sorts of boundaries that comprise the ethical subject.

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

Vilaca, “Dividuality in Amazonia”

October 4, 2011

Vilaca, Aparecida. 2011. Dividuality in Amazonia: God, the Devil, and the constitution of personhood in Wari Christianity. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 17(2):243-262.

Abstract: This article explores the Christian experience of the Wari’, an Amazonian native group, in light of a central feature of their personhood: its dual composition, both human and animal. Arguing that the centrality of the relation with God has resulted in a more stable human person, the article provides an ethnographic examination of how this relation is produced and maintained. Analytic categories derived from the New Melanesian Ethnography – the notions of the ‘dividual’ and the ‘partible person’– are applied to the Amazonian context, enabling a particular description of the Wari’ person and the Christian God, and the subsequent visualization of some key aspects of the relationship between God and humans. Through this comparative exercise, the article looks to contribute to the dialogue between Amazonianists and Melanesianists that has been unfolding over the past decade or so. It also aims to insert Amazonian ethnography into the anthropological debate on Christianity, today strongly anchored in data and conceptual tools derived from Pacific societies in general and Melanesia in particular.

Daswani “(In-)Dividual Pentecostals in Ghana”

October 3, 2011

Girish Daswani (2011) “(In-)Dividual Pentecostals in GhanaJournal of Religion in Africa 41(3):256-279

Abstract: How are Ghanaian Pentecostals related to others, not just as individuals but relationally and as partible and divisible selves that have an influential force over each other? In answering this question I use the example of two Ghanaian Pentecostal women who face personal problems in their lives and who seek different alternatives in alleviating their suffering. While claims to individuality may be important in born-again conversion, I argue that we also need to consider how Pentecostal Christians are dividual and related to others. In doing so, I examine these Ghanaian Pentecostal women as ethical subjects who are involved in balancing individual achievements against moral obligations to others.

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