The idea of writing a personal statement regarding my approach to ritual and to present a self-portrait of my own movement into this field is difficult, to say the least. This is particularly so as the idea has too much of an overriding finality to it—an epitaph, after which there is no more. There is the implication that somehow over the 40 or so years that I have been working in the anthropological field of ritual and religion that I have been building a distinct coherent approach. It is tempting to say so, but it would be wrong. I would say that my orientation has taken many different paths. I have always, like most anthropologists, been directed by the problem-at-hand, given the empirical realities in which I found myself and the issue in the subject of anthropology that appeared to me to be particularly problematic at the time. This has sometimes resulted in a critical look at prevailing orientations and has led me in unexpected directions. The ethnographic materials with which I have been recently working, primarily in North Malabar of the Indian state of Kerala, is setting me off on new routes of analytical possibility, at least new for me. This is also the case with my (see Kapferer 2013a, 2013b, 2014) current interest in film and its relevance for the anthropological study of myth and ritual. Such changes in direction are far from unusual in the ethnographically driven circumstance of anthropology in which ethnography is the ground for analytical and theoretical construction (and not the other way around as in other social sciences where theory governs research, see Kapferer 2007).
Bruce Kapferer, Andrew Lattas, Rohan Bastin, and Don Handelman
Research into the religious beliefs and behaviors of children, young people, adults, and elderly people prompts questions about the way “generation” is understood in the social scientific study of religion. What seem to the researcher at first to be shared values and beliefs on broad moral issues appear, at least to older people, to be lacking amongst the young. Such a difference in perception could be an example of a “generation” gap where generation is perceived by theorists such as Mannheim to be a shared identity of people who have a social history in common. Extensive literature in both anthropology and sociology is explored to find how such concepts are understood and operationalized. Detailed ethnography amongst elderly Anglican women begins to problematize how such notions as boundaries of “generation” blur with gender.
This article raises questions about the study of secularism, from an anthropological perspective. It begins by discussing some general references in the literature on secularism and its counterpart in Latin languages, “laicity”. It then discusses the approach for defining secularism that privileges models and principles, and advocates for an analysis of the devices that produce forms of regulating the religious. The study of configurations of secularism is the outcome of a consideration of all these elements (models, principles, and devices), and has a strategic focus on ways of defining, delimiting, and managing the religious. Three cases are examined in order to illustrate this approach: France, the United States, and Brazil.
Urmila Nair, Naomi Haynes, Rebekka King, Joseph Webster, Amanda J. Lucia, Amit Desai, Jackie Feldman, Iza Kavedžija, Michael W. Scott, Jon Bialecki, Andreas Bandak, Nathaniel Roberts, Alan Barnard, Tom Boylston, Dimitri Tsintjilonis, Brian Baumann, Stuart McLean, and Hayder Al-Mohammad
ARNOLD, Daniel, Brains, Buddhas, and Believing: The Problem of Intentionality in Classical Buddhist and Cognitive-Scientific Philosophy of Mind, 328 pp., bibliography, index. New York: Columbia University Press, 2012. Hardback, £34.50. ISBN 9780231145466.
ATTANASI, Katherine, and Amos YONG, eds. Pentecostalism and Prosperity: The Socio- Economics of the Global Charismatic Movement, 278 pp. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2012. Hardback, $95. ISBN 100230338283.
BOWMAN, Marion, and Ülo VALK, eds., Vernacular Religion in Everyday Life: Expressions of Belief, 320 pp., bibliography. Sheffield: Equinox, 2012. Hardback, £70.00, $115.00. ISBN 9781908049506.
BRUCE, Steve, Politics and Religion in the United Kingdom, 304 pp., preface, notes, index. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2012. Paperback, £19.59. ISBN 9780415643672.
COPEMAN, Jacob, and Aya IKEGAME, eds., The Guru in South Asia: New Interdisciplinary Perspectives, 260 pp., index. Oxford: Routledge, 2012. Hardback, $155. ISBN 9780415510196.
FEDELE, Anna, and Ruy LLERA BLANES, eds., Encounters of Body and Soul in Contemporary Religious Practices: Anthropological Reflections, 252 pp., illustrations, bibliography, index. Oxford and New York: Berghahn, 2011. Hardback, £50, $85. ISBN 9780857452078.
FEDELE, Anna, Looking for Mary Magdalene: Alternative Pilgrimage and Ritual Creativity at Catholic Shrines in France, 336 pp., notes, references, maps, index. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. Paperback, $35.00. ISBN: 978-0199898428.
FISKER-NIELSEN, Anne Mette, Religion and Politics in Contemporary Japan: Soka Gakkai Youth and Komeito, 264 pp., appendix, notes, bibliography, index. London and New York: Routledge, 2012. Hardback £78.42. ISBN 9780415694247.
HOLBRAAD, Martin, Truth in Motion: The Recursive Anthropology of Cuban Divination, 344 pp., preface, illustrations, appendices, references, index. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2012. Hardback, $78, £54.50. ISBN 9780226349206. Paperback, $26, £18. ISBN 9780226349213.
KEHOE, Alice Beck, Militant Christianity: An Anthropological History, 208 pp., notes, references, references by chapter, index. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Paperback, £17.15. ISBN 1137282444.
MITTERMAIER, Amira, Dreams That Matter: Egyptian Landscapes of the Imagination, 308 pp., illustrations, notes, glossary, bibliography, index. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011. Paperback, $26.95, £18.95. ISBN 9780520258518.
QUACK, Johannes, Disenchanting India: Organized Rationalism and Criticism of Religion in India, xvii + 362 pp., references, appendices, index. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. ISBN 9780199812608.
RENFREW, Colin, and Iain MORLEY, eds., Becoming Human: Innovation in Prehistoric and Spiritual Culture, xviii + 282 pp., 50 halftones, 24 color plates. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009. Hardback, £53, paperback £20.99. ISBN 9780521876544 (hardback), 9780521734660 (paperback).
SCHIELKE, Samuli, and Liza DEBEVEC, eds., Ordinary Lives, Grand Schemes: An Anthropology of Everyday Religion, 176 pp., bibliography, index. Oxford and New York: Berghahn, 2012. Hardcover, £35.67. ISBN 9780857455062.
STEWART, Charles, Dreaming and Historical Consciousness in Island Greece, xviii + 259 pp., maps, illustrations, bibliography. London and Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2012. Hardback, £48.95. ISBN 9780983532224.
SWANCUTT, Katherine, Fortune and the Cursed: The Sliding Scale of Time in Mongolian Divination, 244 pp., glossary, references, index. Oxford and New York: Berghahn Books, 2012. Hardcover, £43.70. ISBN 9780857454829.
TAYLOR, Mark C., Refiguring the Spiritual: Beuys, Barney, Turrell, Goldsworthy, 244 pp., notes, index, 55 halftones. New York: Columbia University Press, 2012. Hardback, $27.50, £19. ISBN 9780231157667.
TURNER, Edith, Communitas: The Anthropology of Collective Joy, xiv + 272 pp., notes, references, index. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. Hardcover, $95. ISBN 9780230339088.
A Critical Review of Religious Pluralism
From the 1980s onwards, much research has been carried out in order to analyze and compare the situation and the management of religious plurality in Western countries. While scholars in the social sciences of religion have seized on the question of plurality, those in migration studies have started to pay more and more attention to the religious dimension of migrants and their descent. Although macro-level plurality is more commonly investigated, internal religious plurality is of equal importance. This article provides a critical review of the various approaches of religious pluralism and emphasizes some under-investigated areas such as conflicts and internal plurality.
How do we take indigenous animism seriously in the sense proposed by Viveiros de Castro? In this article, I pose this challenge to all the major theories of animism, stretching from Tylor and Durkheim, over Lévi-Strauss to Ingold. I then go on to draw a comparison between Žižek's depiction of the cynical milieu of advanced capitalism in which ideology as “false consciousness” has lost force and the Siberian Yukaghirs for whom ridiculing the spirits is integral to their game of hunting. Both know that, in their activity, they are following an illusion, but still they go along with it; both are ironically self-conscious about not taking the ruling ethos at face value. This makes me suggest an alternative: perhaps it is time for anthropology not to take indigenous animism too seriously.
Around Manuel A. Vásquez’s “More Than Belief: A Materialist Theory of Religion”
Manuel A. Vásquez, Abby Day, Lionel Obadia, David Chidester, and Chad E. Seales
Manuel Vásquez begins his book by describing university courses that frustrate his students by being text-based and divorced from real life. He rightly concludes that analyzing sacred texts does not alone explain lived religion and complex issues such as globalization, transnationalism, and hybrid identities. He is writing from a Religious Studies perspective that, as he says, sometimes suffers from an overly theological bias. Moves within the discipline to abandon ‘religion’ for something as equally diverse and difficult to pin down as ‘faith’ do not, he argues, take us any further, particularly because religion really matters to many people and therefore cannot be dismissed just because we scholars find it problematic. To adopt an approach that explores how religion is understood and lived by the people who practice it is, I agree, the most important task for people studying religion. If this serves as a wake-up call for people who still study religion as something, in Vásquez’s words, of angels rather than of people, then the book has done a great job.
Galina Oustinova-Stjepanovic, Joana Bahia, Luiz Costa, Jonathan Mair, Dolores P. Martinez, Stephan Feuchtwang, Richard Irvine, Stephen D. Glazier, Diana Espirito Santo, Simion Pop, William Dawley, Emily B. Baran, Richard Baxstrom, Anastasios Panagiotopoulos, Mette High, Amy Whitehead, Sindre Bangstad, Thomas G. Kirsch, and Ruy Llera Blanes
BUBANDT, Nils, and Martijn VAN BEEK, eds., Varieties of Secularism in Asia: Anthropological Explorations of Religion, Politics and the Spiritual, 261 pp., illustrations, index. London: Routledge, 2012. Hardback, $145. ISBN 9780415616720.
CAPONE, Stefania, Searching for Africa in Brazil: Power and Tradition in Candomblé, 336 pp., illustrations, notes, bibliography, index. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010. Paperback, $23.95. ISBN 9780822346364.
COURSE, Magnus, Becoming Mapuche: Person and Ritual in Indigenous Chile, 224 pp., illustrations, notes, glossary, index. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2011. Paperback, $25. ISBN 9780252078231.
DAY, Abby, Believing in Belonging: Belief and Social Identity in the Modern World, 224 pp., references, index. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. Hardback, £55, $99. ISBN 9780199577873.
ENDRES, Kirsten W., Performing the Divine: Mediums, Markets and Modernity in Urban Vietnam, 240 pp., bibliography, index. Copenhagen: Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, 2011. Paperback, £16.99, $32. ISBN 9788776940768.
FJELSTAD, Karen, and Nguyen THIHIEN, Spirits without Borders: Vietnamese Spirit Mediums in a Transnational Age, 230 pp., glossary, notes, references, index. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011. Hardback, $90. ISBN 9780230114937.
GEERTZ, Armin W., and Jappe Sinding JENSEN, eds., Religious Narrative, Cognition and Culture: Image and Word in the Mind of Narrative, 348 pp. Sheffield: Equinox, 2011. Paperback, £24.99, $39.95. ISBN 9781845532956.
GRIFFITH, Ezra E. H., Ye Shall Dream: Patriarch Granville Williams and the Barbados Spiritual Baptists, 207 pp., references, index. Mona: University of the West Indies Press, 2010. Paperback, $35. ISBN 9789766402433.
HAYES, Kelly E., Holy Harlots: Femininity, Sexuality, and Black Magic in Brazil, xiii, 293 pp., illustrations, notes, bibliography, index. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011. Paperback, $27.95, £19.95. ISBN 9780520262652.
KAPFERER, Bruce, Kari TELLE, and Annelin ERIKSEN, eds., Contemporary Religiosities: Emergent Socialities and the Post-Nation-State, 221 pp., illustrations, bibliography, index. New York: Berghahn Books, 2010. Paperback, $25, £15. ISBN 9780857451309.
LINDHARDT, Martin, ed., Practicing the Faith: The Ritual Life of Pentecostal-Charismatic Christians, 352 pp., tables, bibliography, index. New York: Berghahn Books, 2011. Hardback, $95, £55. ISBN 9781845457709.
LUEHRMANN, Sonja, Secularism Soviet Style: Teaching Atheism and Religion in a Volga Republic, 292 pp., illustrations, maps, glossary, notes, references, index. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2011. Paperback, $27.95. ISBN 9780253223555.
OBEYESEKERE, Gananath, The Awakened Ones: Phenomenology of Visionary Experience, xx + 622 pp., illustrations, notes, glossary, index. New York: Columbia University Press, 2012. Hardback, $50, £34.50. ISBN 9780231153621.
OCHOA, Todd Ramón, Society of the Dead: Quita Manaquita and Palo Praise in Cuba, 328 pp., notes, bibliography, index. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010. Paperback, $26.95, £18.95. ISBN 9780520256842.
PEDERSEN, Morten Axel, Not Quite Shamans: Spirit Worlds and Political Lives in Northern Mongolia, 250 pp., bibliography, glossary, index. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2011. Paperback, $28.95. ISBN 9780801476204.
ROUNTREE, Kathryn, Crafting Contemporary Pagan Identities in a Catholic Society, 206 pp., figures, bibliography, index. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2010. Hardback, £55, $82. ISBN 9780754669739.
WARNER, Michael, Jonathan VANANTWERPEN, and Craig CALHOUN, eds., Varieties of Secularism in a Secular Age, 337 pp., name index, subject index. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010. Paperback, $46.50. ISBN 9780674048577.
WERBNER, Richard, Holy Hustlers, Schism, and Prophecy: Apostolic Reformation in Botswana, 268 pp., illustrations, notes, references, index, DVD. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011. Hardback, $60. ISBN 9780520268531.
COLOMBANI, Hervé, dir., Nouvelle Terre Promise, 45 min., color. Paris: CNRS Images, 2008.
Allen Abramson and Martin Holbraad
How far is the ethnographic study of 'cosmologies' relevant to contemporary anthropology, and how might it illuminate understandings of the contemporary world? In this article we argue for a renewed anthropological interest in matters cosmological by seeking to disentangle the study of cosmology from the concomitants with which it was associated in earlier periods of anthropological research. In particular, we argue that an orientation toward cosmology continues to be of prime importance to the discipline insofar as it can be freed from its associations with holism and exoticism. The shift from 'high modernity' (in which orientations toward cosmos are variously constrained and circumscribed) to the flattening effects of the 'fluid' modernity of neoliberalism, we argue, has tended to thrust concerns with cosmic orders and dynamics back onto the forefront of people's lives. We end the article with a series of programmatic observations of how anthropologists might respond to these shifts, both ethnographically and analytically.
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.