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Open access

Albert I. Baumgarten

Abstract

Purity and Danger, published in 1966, remains Dame Mary Douglas's most famous book and “The Abominations of Leviticus” its most widely read chapter. In 2005, only two years before her death and in preparation for the Hebrew translation of Purity and Danger, which appeared in 2010, Douglas wrote a preface for that publication. With the likely interests of the Hebrew reader in mind, the preface expresses Douglas's final reflections on the history of her engagement with “The Abominations of Leviticus.” It includes a restatement of her conclusions in light of Valerio Valeri's work, in which she found the preferred approach to the questions she had asked over the years. This article presents Douglas's preface after setting it in the context of her contributions.

Open access

Marla Frederick, Yunus Doğan Telliel, and Heather Mellquist Lehto

COVID-19, Religious Markets, and the Black Church, Marla Frederick

Can You See the Big Picture? COVID-19 and Telescoping Truth, Yunus Doğan Telliel

Learning from Religious Diasporas in Pandemic Times, Heather Mellquist Lehto

Open access

Weapons for Witnessing

American Street Preaching and the Rhythms of War

Kyle Byron

Abstract

Drawing on observations of the performances of street preachers in the United States—as well as the texts that inform them—this article explores the concept of rhythm within and beyond the anthropology of religion. More specifically, it develops an expansive concept of rhythm as multiple and interactive, focusing not on a singular rhythm, but on the rhythmic translations that shape the practice of street preaching. First, I argue that the material rhythms of urban infrastructure constrain the narrative rhythms of the street preacher's sermon, producing a distinct homiletics. I then suggest that the ideological rhythms of war animate the narrative rhythms of the street preacher's sermon, linking military strategies with tactics of evangelism. Examining the material, narrative, and ideological rhythms of streets, sermons, and military doctrine, this article advances an analytic framework whereby the intersecting rhythmic tensions that shape performance can be registered.

Open access

Valentina Napolitano

Abstract

This article explores the tension between Pope Francis as a ‘trickster’ and as a much-needed reformer of the Catholic Church at large. He is an exemplar of the longue durée of an embodied ‘Atlantic Return’ from the Americas to the ‘heart’ of Catholicism (Rome and the Vatican), with its ambivalent, racialized history. Through the mobilization of material religion, sensuous mediations, and the case of the Lampedusa crosses in particular, I engage with an anthropological analysis of Francis as a Criollo and the first-ever Jesuit pope. Examining Francis's papacy overlapping racial and ethico-political dimensions, I identify coordinates around which the rhetorical, affective, and charismatic force of Francis as a Criollo has been actualized—between, most crucially, proximity and distance, as well as pastoral versus theological impulses. This article advances an understanding of Francis that emerges from a study of the conjuncture of affective fields, political theology, racialized aesthetics, and mediatic interface.

Free access

Introduction

A Decade of Religion and Society

Sondra L. Hausner, Ruy Llera Blanes, and Simon Coleman

This volume of Religion and Society is a special one. First, with this edition we celebrate our 10th anniversary. While our personnel have changed to some degree, our remit has remained largely the same. We present theoretically and methodologically challenging studies of religion through a variety of formats that place religion at the center of analysis and enable those who study religious phenomena to engage in debate and dialogue with each other. In recent years, our approach has also cemented ties with the Society for the Anthropology of Religion, a subsection of the American Anthropological Association. Over the entirety of the last decade, we have continued to publish exceptional interdisciplinary scholarship in social and cultural analyses of religion.

Free access

Introduction

Religious Plurality, Interreligious Pluralism, and Spatialities of Religious Difference

Jeremy F. Walton and Neena Mahadev

Abstract

The introduction to this special section foregrounds the key distinction between ‘religious plurality’ and ‘interreligious pluralism’. Building from the example of a recent controversy over an exhibition on shared religious sites in Thessaloniki, Greece, we analyze the ways in which advocates and adversaries of pluralism alternately place minority religions at the center or attempt to relegate them to the margins of visual, spatial, and political fields. To establish the conceptual scaffolding that supports this special section, we engage the complex relations that govern the operations of state and civil society, sacrality and secularity, as well as spectacular acts of disavowal that simultaneously coincide with everyday multiplicities in the shared use of space. We conclude with brief summaries of the four articles that site religious plurality and interreligious pluralism in the diverse contexts of Brazil, Russia, Sri Lanka, and the Balkans.

Free access

Introduction

Doing Ritual While Thinking about It?

Emma Gobin

ABSTRACT

Religious anthropology and ritual studies have increasingly acknowledged that ritual and religion are subject to criticism. There is still a tendency, however, to argue that doubt, skepticism, and forms of ‘critical reflexivity’ develop somewhere outside the ritual ‘frame’, in connection with external processes. In presenting this special section of Religion and Society, this introduction harks back to past research arising out of structural and performative approaches to rite, introduces the notion of critical reflexivity, and outlines the ways it is used to shed light on overlooked formal aspects of religious rituals. In order to stress the subtle connection between ritual action and (local) reflection on this action as evidenced in situ in the course of performance, linked with internal features of ritual activity, the article evokes two lines of empirical inquiry: institutionalized episodes of ritual assessment and ritual ‘accidents’ that do not necessarily imply ritual ‘failure’.

Free access

Introduction

Performing Religion

Ruy Llera Blanes, Sondra L. Hausner, and Simon Coleman

Free access

Introduction

Religions, Histories, and Comparisons

Simon Coleman, Ruy Llera Blanes, and Sondra L. Hausner

Free access

Introduction

Legacies, Trajectories, and Comparison in the Anthropology of Buddhism

Nicolas Sihlé and Patrice Ladwig

ABSTRACT

The anthropology of Buddhism may give the impression of already having a well-established lineage. However, understood as a collective endeavor bringing together specialists from different parts of the Buddhist world in a comparative spirit, it remains very much an emerging project. We outline in this introduction some of the striking features of the beginnings of this subfield, such as how it has undergone a process of emancipation from textualist interpretations of Buddhism, and survey some of its main thematic and analytic orientations, pointing in particular to its most substantial ‘long conversation’, on the structure and dynamics of Buddhist religious fields. Throughout, we focus primarily on the period following an assessment of the subfield made by David Gellner in 1990. Finally, we stress the importance and highlight the promise of a comparative anthropology of Buddhism that builds on a critical, reflexive examination of its central concepts.