Linda Woodhead, James T. Richardson, Martyn Percy, Catherine Wessinger, and Eileen Barker
Analytical Routes through Multiple Meanings
Translator : Jeffrey Hoff
This text proposes a conceptual discussion and a preliminary analysis of a specific situation. In a Brazilian town, a monument representing a Catholic saint has been proposed as a project of ‘religious tourism’. Some of the literature on this subject is examined in order to delineate a perspective that, instead of pointing out its contradictions or ambiguities, allows us to follow the encounters between religion and tourism in their multiple possibilities and meanings. The Brazilian monument is analyzed in order to demonstrate how three different visions converge on it: that of the state, that of the Catholic Church, and that of a group of ‘pilgrims’. In considering these perspectives, the goal is to understand how the various concepts relate to practices of tourism that offer structure and frameworks to promote religious and secular projects.
Anthropologists have recently shown an increasing concern with secular formations. This exploratory article inquires into the secular formation of anthropology itself by initiating an examination of its relation to theology, deemed anthropology’s disciplinary Other. I argue for recognizing a complex relation, whereby anthropology in some ways forgets theology, in others sustains it, and in still others invites critique by it. Analyzing anthropology from its theological edges may reinvigorate awareness of its ethical dimensions as a secular enterprise, as well as help measure its distance from (or proximity to) dominant projects, such as the Enlightenment and the nation-state, which were crucial for its founding in the modern world. An anthropology critically curious about its inherited alienation from theological modes of reasoning may not only become better at investigating the possibilities that cultural forms can take, but also become aware of new forms that the discipline could itself take.
A Discursive Analysis of a Century of Anthropological Writings on Missionary Ethnographers
Travis Warren Cooper
This article examines discussions of missionaries penned by anthropologists and existing in disciplinary consciousness. Questions of alterity, distance and sameness, the potentially exploitative effects of ethnography, and the uncomfortable colonialist underpinnings of both missionary and anthropological pasts come to the fore in these texts. Drawing on a wealth of journal articles, ethnographic monographs, and edited volumes, I identify, describe, and analyze six predominant discourses on missionaries, including anthropological depictions of missionaries as foils (Discourse One), as intermediaries (Discourse Two), and as present in good or bad manifestations (Discourse Three). Other threads constitute missionaries as data (Discourse Four), conceive of them as methodological ancestors and ethnographic colleagues (Discourse Five), or identify them reflexively as both anthropologists and Christians (Discourse Six). I suggest that missionaries serve as an archetypical foil against which the anthropological discipline emerges. Missionary ethnographers are for anthropologists a necessarily uncanny, repressed, productive other.
Erin R. Eldridge
Coal ash, the waste generated at coal-burning power plants, is one of the largest waste streams in the United States, and it contains a range of contaminants, including arsenic and mercury. Disasters at coal ash waste sites in recent years have led to increased public scrutiny of coal ash in communities and have sparked policy debates, lawsuits, and complaints throughout the country. With emphasis on federal and state coal ash policies since the 1970s, this article highlights the synthesis of government and corporate power in coal ash politics, and the bureaucratic processes affecting communities near coal ash sites. Based on ethnographic research following the 2008 Tennessee Valley Authority coal ash disaster, as well as preliminary research on the “social life” of coal ash in North Carolina, this article specifically offers ethnographic insight into the lived experiences of social and ecological violence created, perpetuated, and normalized through bureaucratic processes.
This afterword offers reflections on some major points of this section concerning the generative power linking moral outrage to political violence. The authors have successfully taken up a topic of immense relevance and urgency in contemporary society. Their efforts are a first important step to address this from an empirical, analytical, and theoretical framework. In the afterword, I seek to add further perspectives to some of the findings, including a focus on moral outrage that situates it not strictly within personality as a preexisting universal that waits for someone to wake it up but rather in an approach to emotions as embedded within cultural understandings with an emphasis on the strategic side of the production of moral outrage in creating both positive and negative change.
Mbororo Nomads Facing and Adapting to Conflict in Central Africa
Mbororo nomadic pastoralists have fled the Central African Republic (CAR) since 2003 because of atrocities perpetrated against them. Conflict has, in fact, always been a major motor behind nomadism for the Mbororo, along with the quest for pasture. The “normal” severity of Mbororo life, however, has been compounded by the “exceptional” severity caused by the situation in the CAR. This article analyzes the way in which the Mbororo distinguish between the two types of severity, and how these different forms of experienced hardship are accommodated in the pastoralists’ way of life. I show how historical trajectories with conflict and nomadic hardship allow refugee Mbororo to adjust to recurrent hardship by adapting their pathways and livelihood strategies. This illustrates the way in which duress is central in nomadic society.
Amanda J. Reinke
Alternative justice—conflict resolution outside formal law—seeks to alleviate pervasive social issues, such as the school-to-prison pipeline. Alternative justice practitioners increasingly seek to transform the legal system and the violence it perpetuates from within by implementing programs and processes in collaboration with formal law and legal actors. However, this collaborative approach requires practitioners to create bureaucratic processes and procedures such as memoranda of understanding, complex filing systems, and data tracking. Multisited ethnographic research in the United States (2014-2017) reveals that there is little consensus among these practitioners as to whether this bureaucratization will benefit or harm their work. The bureaucracy of processing case work, implementing standardized procedures, extending training requirements, and cost barriers are viewed positively insofar as they gain legitimacy for the field. Is bureaucratization necessary to achieve legitimacy, or does it restrict practitioners’ ability to fulfill client needs and the principles of their justice paradigm?
Fear of Jihadism and the Terrorist Threat in Southern Mali
This article explores hostile narratives and moral outrage in the context of rising conflict in urban Mali, with a specific emphasis on religious and spatial politics in Bamako. Based on ethnographic observations, interviews, and group discussions, the article examines the specific forms that moral outrage may take in contexts of insecurity and an imminent threat of violence. It argues that moral outrage concerns the transgression of values that are intrinsic to moral being. In the Mali setting, moral outrage emerges as justifiable when people fail, or refuse, to make visible or prove their moral being. Suspected ill-doers are ascribed economic, political, and religious agendas that threaten what it means to be Muslim and that violate the value of the mutual solidarity of the Muslim community and of the nation. At the same time, the public expression of moral outrage contributes to a broader negotiation of identities and state-society relationships.
Meike J. de Goede
The Matsouanist religion in Congo-Brazzaville has its roots in Amicale, a sociopolitical association and movement that aimed to improve the rights of colonial subjects that emerged in the late 1920s. After its leader, André Matsoua, died in prison, the movement transformed into a religion that worships Matsoua as a prophet. In this article, I argue that this transformation should be understood not as a rupture but as continuation, albeit in a different discursive domain. This transformation was steered by duress, or the internalization of structural violence in everyday life under colonialism. Through this discursive transformation, Matsoua’s followers appropriated the movement and brought it into a culturally known place that enabled them to continue their struggle for liberation from colonial oppression.