Author: Matthew Eric Engelke
Publisher: Berghahn Books
Release Date: 2006
Too often, anthropological accounts of ritual leave readers with the impression that everything goes smoothly, that rituals are "meaningful events." But what happens when rituals fail, or when they seem "meaningless"? Drawing on research in the anthropology of Christianity from around the globe, the authors in this volume suggest that in order to analyze meaning productively, we need to consider its limits. This collection is a welcome new addition to the anthropology of religion, offering fresh debates on a classic topic and drawing attention to meaning in a way that other volumes have for key terms like "culture" and "fieldwork.
Author: Matt Tomlinson
Publisher: Univ of California Press
Release Date: 2009
Genre: Social Science
Today, most indigenous Fijians are Christians, and the Methodist Church is the foundation of their social and political lives. Yet, as this thought-provoking study of life on rural Kadavu Island finds, Fijians also believe that their ancestors possessed an inherent strength that is lacking in the present day. Looking in particular at the interaction between the church and the traditional chiefly system, Matt Tomlinson finds that this belief about the superiority of the past provokes great anxiety, and that Fijians seek ways of recovering this strength through ritual and political action--Christianity itself simultaneously generates a sense of loss and the means of recuperation. To unravel the cultural dynamics of Christianity in Fiji, Tomlinson explores how this loss is expressed through everyday language and practices.
Despite the fact that Christianity is understood to be thoroughly intertwined with matter, objects, and things, Christians struggle to cope with this materiality in their daily lives. This volume argues that the ambivalent relationships many Christians have with materiality is a driving force that contributes to the way people in different Christian traditions and in different parts of the world understand and live out their religion. By placing the questions of limits and boundary-work to the fore, the volume addresses the question of exactly how Christianity takes place materially, addressing a gap in studies to date. Christianity and the Limits of Materiality presents ground-breaking research on the frameworks and contexts in relation to and within which Christian logics of materiality operate. The volume places the negotiations at the limits of materiality within the larger framework of Christian identities and politics of belonging. The chapters discuss case studies from North and South America, Europe, and Africa, and demonstrate that the limits preoccupying Christians delimit their lives but also enable many things. Ultimately, Christianity and the Limits of Materiality demonstrates that it is at the interfaces of materiality and the transcendent that Christians create and legitimise their religion.
After the end of the civil war in 1990, the Charismatic/Pentecostal (C/P) movement in Beirut spread across various Christian denominations. C/P believers narrated how Jesus became real to them via the experience of the Holy Spirit. The author explains this impression of realness through embodiment. Ritual practices like testimony and experience of divine agency are experienced as fullness within a post war society and are extended into the every day sphere. This ethnographic account represents the beginning research of C/P Christianity’s emergence in the Middle East and its contribution to social change.
The phrase “Christian politics” evokes two meanings: political relations between denominations in one direction, and the contributions of Christian churches to debates about the governing of society. The contributors to this volume address Christian politics in both senses and argue that Christianity is always and inevitably political in the Pacific Islands. Drawing on ethnographic and historical research in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and Fiji, the authors argue that Christianity and politics have redefined each other in much of Oceania in ways that make the two categories inseparable at any level of analysis. The individual chapters vividly illuminate the ways in which Christian politics operate across a wide scale, from interpersonal relations to national and global interconnections.
Author: Fenella Cannell
Publisher: Duke University Press
Release Date: 2006-10-17
Genre: Social Science
This collection provides vivid ethnographic explorations of particular, local Christianities as they are experienced by different groups around the world. At the same time, the contributors, all anthropologists, rethink the vexed relationship between anthropology and Christianity. As Fenella Cannell contends in her powerful introduction, Christianity is the critical “repressed” of anthropology. To a great extent, anthropology first defined itself as a rational, empirically based enterprise quite different from theology. The theology it repudiated was, for the most part, Christian. Cannell asserts that anthropological theory carries within it ideas profoundly shaped by this rejection. Because of this, anthropology has been less successful in considering Christianity as an ethnographic object than it has in considering other religions. This collection is designed to advance a more subtle and less self-limiting anthropological study of Christianity. The contributors examine the contours of Christianity among diverse groups: Catholics in India, the Philippines, and Bolivia, and Seventh-Day Adventists in Madagascar; the Swedish branch of Word of Life, a charismatic church based in the United States; and Protestants in Amazonia, Melanesia, and Indonesia. Highlighting the wide variation in what it means to be Christian, the contributors reveal vastly different understandings and valuations of conversion, orthodoxy, Scripture, the inspired word, ritual, gifts, and the concept of heaven. In the process they bring to light how local Christian practices and beliefs are affected by encounters with colonialism and modernity, by the opposition between Catholicism and Protestantism, and by the proximity of other religions and belief systems. Together the contributors show that it not sufficient for anthropologists to assume that they know in advance what the Christian experience is; each local variation must be encountered on its own terms. Contributors. Cecilia Busby, Fenella Cannell, Simon Coleman, Peter Gow, Olivia Harris, Webb Keane, Eva Keller, David Mosse, Danilyn Rutherford, Christina Toren, Harvey Whitehouse
Author: Matthew Akim Tomlinson
Publisher: Univ of California Press
Release Date: 2009-03-10
Today, most indigenous Fijians are Christians, and the Methodist Church is the foundation of their social and political lives. Yet, as this thought-provoking study of life on rural Kadavu Island finds, Fijians also believe that their ancestors possessed an inherent strength that is lacking in the present day. Looking in particular at the interaction between the church and the traditional chiefly system, Matt Tomlinson finds that this belief about the superiority of the past provokes great anxiety, and that Fijians seek ways of recovering this strength through ritual and political action—Christianity itself simultaneously generates a sense of loss and the means of recuperation. To unravel the cultural dynamics of Christianity in Fiji, Tomlinson explores how this loss is expressed through everyday language and practices.
Author: Nils Bubandt
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Release Date: 2014-12-18
Genre: Social Science
The Empty Seashell explores what it is like to live in a world where cannibal witches are undeniably real, yet too ephemeral and contradictory to be an object of belief. In a book based on more than three years of fieldwork between 1991 and 2011, Nils Bubandt argues that cannibal witches for people in the coastal, and predominantly Christian, community of Buli in the Indonesian province of North Maluku are both corporeally real and fundamentally unknowable. Witches (known as gua in the Buli language or as suanggi in regional Malay) appear to be ordinary humans but sometimes, especially at night, they take other forms and attack people in order to kill them and eat their livers. They are seemingly everywhere and nowhere at the same time. The reality of gua, therefore, can never be pinned down. The title of the book comes from the empty nautilus shells that regularly drift ashore around Buli village. Convention has it that if you find a live nautilus, you are a gua. Like the empty shells, witchcraft always seems to recede from experience. Bubandt begins the book by recounting his own confusion and frustration in coming to terms with the contradictory and inaccessible nature of witchcraft realities in Buli. A detailed ethnography of the encompassing inaccessibility of Buli witchcraft leads him to the conclusion that much of the anthropological literature, which views witchcraft as a system of beliefs with genuine explanatory power, is off the mark. Witchcraft for the Buli people doesn't explain anything. In fact, it does the opposite: it confuses, obfuscates, and frustrates. Drawing upon Jacques Derrida’s concept of aporia—an interminable experience that remains continuously in doubt—Bubandt suggests the need to take seriously people’s experiential and epistemological doubts about witchcraft, and outlines, by extension, a novel way of thinking about witchcraft and its relation to modernity.
Author: Girish Daswani
Publisher: University of Toronto Press
Release Date: 2015-02-26
How do Ghanaian Pentecostals resolve the contradictions of their own faith while remaining faithful to their religious identity? Bringing together the anthropology of Christianity and the anthropology of ethics, Girish Daswani’s Looking Back, Moving Forward investigates the compromises with the past that members of Ghana’s Church of Pentecost make in order to remain committed Christians. Even as church members embrace the break with the past that comes from being “born-again,” many are less concerned with the boundaries of Christian practice than with interpersonal questions – the continuity of suffering after conversion, the causes of unhealthy relationships, the changes brought about by migration – and how to deal with them. By paying ethnographic attention to the embodied practices, interpersonal relationships, and moments of self-reflection in the lives of members of the Church of Pentecost in Ghana and amongst the Ghanaian diaspora in London, Looking Back, Moving Forward explores ethical practice as it emerges out of the questions that church members and other Ghanaian Pentecostals ask themselves.
Author: Lenore Manderson
Publisher: Springer Science & Business Media
Release Date: 2012-02-16
Genre: Social Science
Unique local transformations of the practice of established religions in Asia and the Pacific are juxtaposed with the emergence of new religious movements whose incidence is growing across the region. In Flows of Faith, the contributing authors take as their starting point questions of how religions manifest outside their cultural boundaries and provide the basis for new social identities, political movements and social transformations. With fresh insights into the globalization of beliefs, their local inflections, and their institutionalization, the authors explore how old and new religions work in different settings, and how their reception and membership challenge orthodox understandings of religion and culture. The chapters – set in Asia, the Pacific, Australia, and the US – illustrate the contrasts and commonalities of these belief systems, and their allegiances and networks in the region and beyond. They include new religious movements – Falun Gong, Brahma Kumaris, the Hare Krishna movement, based in East and South Asia with outreach posts in Australia and the U.S. – and established ‘old’ religions – Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam – that are revitalized and recreated in different settings and places. Flows of Faith describes the transnational reaches of faith. Religious practices and their local manifestations track the movement of peoples, through mission outreach, flight, migration, and pilgrimage. In each new setting, religions are shaped by and in turn shape political and cultural forces, proving that they are resilient and generative, originary and distinctive. The volume is a major contribution, providing readers with a fresh and creative approach into the living experience of religious communities in a contemporary globalised world.
Author: Pamela J. Stewart
Release Date: 2009
Genre: Social Science
The topic of religious and ritual change, including conversion from one modality of practices to another, has emerged in recent years as a prime focus of scholarly attention in anthropology and related disciplines, such as history, sociology, political science and religious studies. Conversion to Christianity is one focus that has developed within this broad and dynamic field of investigations. This edited volume is a unique set of studies that explores this field further, with a doubly innovative approach. First, the chapters represent a collaboration of leading scholars from Taiwan and from the USA and Europe. Second, the studies involve a comparative dimension, juxtaposing work done among indigenous Austronesian minorities in Taiwan and work done in the Pacific Islands (Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands). Within this collection of essays, common processes of change are evident, while the importance of specific histories is revealed, and analytical and theoretical issues are probed and reviewed in ways that demonstrate their relevance to the overall dimensions of comparison. No other work in this arena of study has brought together scholars with such a comparative framework in mind. This volume is relevant for scholars and students of religious change generally, as well as those readers who are interested in the wider Asia-Pacific region, minority groups, Christianity, indigenous movements, and the socialization of the ritual body in contexts of historical and cosmological change.
In Geneologies of Religion, Talal Asad explores how religion as a historical category emerged in the West and has come to be applied as a universal concept. The idea that religion has undergone a radical change since the Christian Reformation—from totalitarian and socially repressive to private and relatively benign—is a familiar part of the story of secularization. It is often invokved to explain and justify the liberal politics and world view of modernity. And it leads to the view that "politicized religions" threaten both reason and liberty. Asad's essays explore and question all these assumptions. He argues that "religion" is a construction of European modernity, a construction that authorizes—for Westerners and non-Westerners alike—particular forms of "history making." -- James R. Wood
Asia in the Making of Christianity studies the experience of converts from fifteen locations throughout Asia, using a variety of approaches to examine the meaning of becoming Christian. The book addresses and assesses models under debate for understanding religious conversion.