Diaspora, and with it 'diasporic religion', has exploded as an area of research in the field of Religion, opening important paths of inquiry and analysis. This article traces the itineraries and intersections of Diaspora and Religion over the last two decades, especially vis-à-vis groups that activate multiple diasporic horizons. It then evaluates the risks of the overdispersion of Diaspora. To counter this, the article recommends more narrowly circumscribing Diasporic Religion in relation to 'territory', while at the same time rendering the question of what territoriality means more complex and diverse.
Paul Christopher Johnson
Reflections from an AAA Teaching Workshop
James S. Bielo
Good teaching is a craft. It requires constant honing. While perfection eludes most of us most of the time, our best days are intellectually generative, meaningful, and often quite fun. I intend this essay as a gesture in that same spirit.
Seriousness is achieved when a speaker effectively moves the audience according to his or her intentions. But seriousness is fragile and subject to countless vicissitudes, as illustrated in an encounter with the television evangelist Oral Roberts. I interrogate one of the means used to counter such vicissitudes-hyperbole. Hyperbole may include exaggeration and amplification of all kinds, and may be manifest in deeds as well as words. I first follow hyperbole through 9/11 and the competing ideologies of Salafi jihadists and the Bush administration to show how 'absolute metaphors' are enlisted hyperbolically. I examine too how epic narratives are created as a similar form of hyperbole. Finally, I show how sacredness, another allied form of hyperbole, is attributed to the Holocaust in present-day Germany. Throughout I argue, and illustrate, how anthropological writing is of necessity ironic, such that irony is better than 'cultural relativism' as an understanding of the anthropological enterprise.
A Masters Level Course
Peter Collins and Yulia Egorova
I (Peter) remember sitting in a departmental meeting, doodling, preoccupied with the image of a hospital chapel. I had recently been involved in a research project seeking to document and explain the construction of religious/spiritual space in National Health Service (NHS) acute-care hospitals in the north of England. What was becoming more and more obvious was the growing tension between the distinction that staff and patients were making between ‘religion’ and ‘spirituality’. Admittedly, this tension was not especially surprising; indeed, it can be understood, in principle, as a reflection of the ambient climate of religiosity in the UK, as in many other Western countries (Flanagan and Jupp 2007; Heelas 2008; Heelas et al. 2004).
Around "Political Spiritualities: The Pentecostal Revolution in Nigeria" by Ruth Marshall
Ruth Marshall, J.D.Y. Peel, Daniel Jordan Smith, Joel Robbins, and Jean-François Bayart
In the now very rapidly growing literature on Pentecostalism in Africa, Ruth Marshall’s book occupies a special place. In disciplinary terms, most of that literature falls under religious studies or history. The anthropologists came later, particularly those from North America, who had to get over their distaste for a religion that seemed so saturated in the idioms of the US Bible Belt. The originality of Marshall’s book is grounded in its linkage of questions derived from political theory with rich data collected through intensive and sustained fieldwork. But she insists it is not “an ethnography of the movement” (p. 5), so what exactly is it?
Rebekka King, Jonathan Spencer, Liam D. Murphy, Frederick P. Lampe, Sherry Angela Smith, Michael Rowlands, Nanlai Cao, Julie Botticello, Joana Santos, Joël Noret, José Mapril, George St. Clair, Tom Boylston, Marie Brossier, Alexander Horstmann, Detelina Tocheva, Galina Oustinova-Stjepanovic, Michael W. Scott, Uday Chandra, Ana Stela de Almeida Cunha, Steven J. Sutcliffe, Jackie Feldman, Benedikte Moeller Kristensen, and Alyssa Grossman
BIELO, James S., Words Upon the Word: An Ethnography of Evangelical Group Bible Study, x, 187 pp., notes, references, index. New York: New York University Press, 2009. Paperback, $21. ISBN 9780814791226.
BLACKBURN, Anne M., Locations of Buddhism: Colonialism and Modernity in Sri Lanka, xxii, 237 pp., figures, bibliographical references. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010. Cloth, $45. ISBN 9780226055077.
BRUCE, Steve, Paisley: Religion and Politics in Northern Ireland, xvi, 312 pp., tables, appendix. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009. Paperback, $27.95. ISBN 9780199565719.
CSORDAS, Thomas J., ed., Transnational Transcendence: Essays on Religion and Globalization, 352 pp., introduction, index, references. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009. Paperback, $24.95, £16.95. ISBN 9780520257429.
HERMKENS, Anna-Karina, Willy JANSEN, and Catrien NOTERMANS, eds., Moved by Mary: The Power of Pilgrimage in the Modern World, xiv, 267 pp., illustrations, bibliography, index. Surrey: Ashgate, 2009. Paperback, $29.95, £16.99. ISBN 9780754667896.
HODDER, Ian, ed., Religion in the Emergence of Civilization: Çatalhöyük as a Case Study, 372 pp., figures, tables, index. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Paperback, £23.99. ISBN 978053115019.
HUANG, C. Julia, Charisma and Compassion: Cheng Yen and the Buddhist Tzu Chi Movement, 354 pp., index, references. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009. Cloth, $49.95. ISBN 9780674031333.
HÜWELMEIER, Gertrud, and Kristine KRAUSE, eds., Traveling Spirits: Migrants, Markets and Mobilities, 218 pp., tables, references, index. London: Routledge, 2010. Hardback, £80. ISBN 9780415998789.
LA FONTAINE, Jean, ed., The Devil’s Children. From Spirit Possession to Witchcraft: New Allegations That Affect Children, xv, 220 pp., illustrations, further reading, index. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2009. Hardback, $79.95. ISBN 9780754667339.
MARY, André, Visionnaires et prophètes de l’Afrique contemporaine, 249 pp., bibliography. Paris: Karthala, 2009. Paperback, €24. ISBN 9782811102814.
MASQUELIER, Adeline, Women and Islamic Revival in a West African Town, 376 pp., illustrations, maps, glossary, bibliography, index. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009. Paperback, $27.95. ISBN 9780253215130.
MAYBLIN, Maya, Gender, Catholicism, and Morality in Brazil: Virtuous Husbands, Powerful Wives, 212 pp., acknowledgments, introduction, references. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. Hardcover, $80. ISBN 9780230623125.
McINTOSH, Janet, The Edge of Islam: Power, Personhood, and Ethnoreligious Boundaries on the Kenya Coast, 325 pp., bibliography, index. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2009. Paperback, $23.95. ISBN 9780822345091.
OSELLA, Filippo, and Benjamin Soares, eds., Islam, Politics, Anthropology, viii, 243 pp., notes on contributors, index. Oxford: Blackwell, 2010. Paperback, £19.99, €24. ISBN 9781444332957.
PEARSON, Thomas, Missions and Conversions: Creating the Montagnard-Dega Refugee Community, 241 pp., map, notes, bibliography, index. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. Hardcover, $95. ISBN 9780230615366.
PELKMANS, Mathijs, ed., Conversion after Socialism: Disruptions, Modernisms and Technologies of Faith in the Former Soviet Union, 208 pp., notes on contributors, index. New York: Berghahn Books, 2009. Hardback, $85, £50. ISBN 9781845456177.
ROZENBERG, Guillaume, Renunciation and Power: The Quest for Sainthood in Contemporary Burma, xi, 180 pp., foreword, illustrations, notes, bibliography. New Haven, CT: Yale University Southeast Asia Studies, 2010. Paperback, $20. ISBN 9780938692928.
RYLE, Jacqueline, My God, My Land: Interwoven Paths of Christianity and Tradition in Fiji, 340 pp., prologue, bibliography, appendices, index. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2010. Hardback, $124.95, £66. ISBN: 9780754679882.
SCOTT, James C., The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia, 464 pp., preface, notes, glossary, index. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009. Hardcover, $35, £20; Paperback, $25, £16.99. ISBN 9780300169171.
TISHKEN, Joel E., Toyin FALOLA, and Akintunde AKINYEMI, eds., Sàngó in Africa and the African Diaspora, ix, 365 pp., photos, maps, figures. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009. Paperback, $21.74, £14.95. ISBN 9780253220943.
TURNER, Bryan S., ed., The New Blackwell Companion to the Sociology of Religion, xvii, 691pp. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010. Hardback, £125/€150. ISBN 9781405188524.
HAKAK, Yohai, and Ron Offer, dirs., Gevald, 48 min., color. Israel: Go2Films, 2009; Religion.com, 50 min., color. Israel: Go2Films, 2010, The Midwife and the Rabbi’s Daughter, 50 min., color. Israel: Go2Films, 2009.
MERLI, Laetitia, dir., Shaman Tour, 63 min., color. Paris: CNRS Images, 2009.
TRENCSENYI, Klara, and Vlad NAUMESCU, dirs., Bird’s Way, 56 min., color. Bucharest: Libra Films, 2009.
Time and Transmission in the Anthropology of Christianity
Acknowledging the growing interest in issues of religious transmission, this article reviews two promising yet contradictory approaches to religion that could be described as historicist and universalist. It offers an alternative view premised on their convergence in a pragmatic approach that can link the material, contextual, and institutional dimensions of transmission with corresponding cognitive, perceptive, and emotional processes. This perspective recognizes the historicity of religious transmission and its cognitive underpinnings while attending to the materiality of its semiotic forms. The article focuses on the relationship between time and transmission in recent ethnographies of Christianity that show how Christian temporalities influence perceptions of social continuity or rupture and individuals' becoming in history. Within this frame, it examines the case of Old Believers, an apocalyptic movement that emerged out of a schism in seventeenth-century Russian Orthodoxy, to indicate how a pragmatic approach works in practice.
Religion and Violence
William T. Cavanaugh, Wendy James, and Paul Richards
It is much easier these days to find people who think that Barack Obama was born in Kenya than it is to find Westerners who deny that religion has a peculiar tendency to promote violence. This latter idea is widespread, from the common person in the street to political theorists who assure us that liberal politics arose to save us from the violence that religion would foster if left untamed in the public sphere. The violence of religion is more than a history lesson, we are told; with the rise of Islamic radicalism and other forms of illiberal politics, we are threatened today with the kinds of religious violence that the West successfully domesticated in the early modern period. In this brief essay, I will raise doubts about this prevalent tale that we in the secular age like to tell ourselves.
A Phenomenological Account of Mind
Julia Cassaniti and Tanya Marie Luhrmann
In this article we compare the encounter with the supernatural—experiences in which a person senses the immaterial—in Thailand and in the United States. These experiences appear to be shaped by different conceptions of the mind. In the US, there is a sharp, natural division between one's mind and the world; in Thailand, individuals have the moral responsibility to control their minds. These differences appear to explain how people identify and sense the supernatural. In the US, it is an external, responsive agent; in Thailand, it is an energy that escapes from an uncontrolled mind. Here we approach phenomenology—the experience of experience—comparatively, identifying patterns in social expectations that affect the ways in which humans think, feel, and sense. We take an experiential category of life that we know to be universal and use it to analyze cultural concepts that influence the enactment and interpretation of feeling and sensing.
Hindu Mobilization beyond the Bourgeois Public Sphere
This article develops the notion of interconnected publics as a means to understand better both the escalation of Hindu political activism in the 1990s in India and its subsequent waning in the new millennium. I argue that the prime visibility of Hindu fundamentalism in the 1990s was a result of the effective—yet tenuous—connection between various spaces for public communication. The emerging 'inter-public' effectively imbricated the private viewing of religious soap operas with public ritual and political debate to produce, for a short historical moment, the image of a vibrant, forceful, and dominant Hindu nation. The aim of this article is to contribute to Indian studies by discussing the essential, yet in the literature mostly neglected, connections between devotional practices, media Hinduism, and political mobilization. At the broader conceptual level, I argue for a theory of inter-publics that interrogates how multiple 'micropublics' link up to create tangible political effects.