The link between US evangelicalism, Zionism, and Middle East policy is well documented, as is its refraction through Christian tourism/pilgrimage in Israel-Palestine. However, the scholarly focus on political Zionism oversimplifies how American Christian pilgrims, mostly older women, actually construe the experience: they see contemporary politics as unrelated, and even antithetical, to the trip's spiritual goals. Building on Liisa Malkki's notion of 'tranquilizing' symbols, this article shows how pilgrims draw on broadly moral cultural tropes to quell political discussions, while still speaking in a moral register about Israelis and Palestinians. It explores how one especially powerful trope—the 'symbolic child'—is deployed during the trip. Tracing this image historically and ethnographically, I argue that pilgrims ground their reactions to Israeli-Palestinian conflict in symbolism with deep resonance for American women, which also speaks to how they engage in politics at home.
The Symbolic Child and Political Conflict on American Holy Land Pilgrimage
Stacy M. K. George
Nearly a decade since its emergence on the political scene in the United States, the Tea Party has left a notable impact on contemporary American politics. In April 2009, three months after the establishment of a progressive federal administration
So What Is the Anthropology of Buddhism About?
David N. Gellner
from the bottom up, or from any specific place, are more complicated than the schemes proposed by economists, political scientists, development agencies, and governments ( Gellner 2009 ). There is a whole range of issues where anthropologists and
The Cosmopolitics of an Apparently Non-religious Practice
Sergio González Varela
problem of definition to a description of the practice and its political meaning. In it, I describe the substance of politics ethnographically by focusing on the expression of individual power and its links to magic and spirituality in capoeira. I argue
Topographies of Pluralism in Russia
Melissa L. Caldwell
This article examines several key sites where Russia’s civic and religious bodies intersect in pursuit of social justice goals. Based on ethnographic fieldwork among religious communities and social justice organizations in Moscow, the article focuses on the physical, social, and legal spaces where church and state, secular and sacred, civic and personal intersect and the consequences of these intersections for how Russians understand new configurations of church and state, private and public, religious and political. Of particular concern is the emergence of new forms of religious and political pluralism that transcend any one particular space, such as for worship, community life, or political support or protest, and instead reveal shifting practices and ethics of social justice that are more pluralist, progressive, and tolerant than they may appear to be to outside observers.
Jeremy F. Walton and Piro Rexhepi
Over recent decades, Islamic institutions and Muslim communities in the successor nation-states of former Yugoslavia have taken shape against a variegated political and historical topography. In this article, we examine the discourses and politics surrounding Islamic institutions in four post-Yugoslav nation-states: Kosovo, Macedonia, Croatia, and Slovenia. Our analysis moves in two directions. On the one hand, we illuminate the historical legacies and institutional ties that unite Muslims across these four contexts. As we argue, this institutional history continues to mandate a singular, hegemonic model of Sunni-Hanafi Islam that pre-emptively delegitimizes Muslim communities outside of its orbit. On the other hand, we also attend to the contrasting national politics of Islam in each of our four contexts, ranging from Islamophobic anxiety and suspicion to multiculturalism, from a minority politics of differentiation to hegemonic images of ethno-national religiosity.
Sacrifice, Anti-sacrifice, and the Rearticulations of Conflict in Sri Lanka
Since 2009, in the aftermath of Sri Lanka’s ethnic war, certain contingents of Sinhala Buddhists have lodged attacks against religious minorities, whom they censure for committing violence against animals in accordance with the dictates of their gods. Considering these interventions against sacrifice in spaces of shared Hindu and Buddhist religiosity, this article examines the economies of derogation, violence, and scapegoating in post-war Sri Lanka. Within Sinhala Buddhism, sacrifice is considered bio-morally impure yet politically efficacious, whereas meritorious Buddhist discipleship is sacrificial only in aspirational, bloodless terms. Nevertheless, both practices fall within the spectrum of Sinhala Buddhist religious life. Majoritarian imperatives concerning postwar blood impinge upon marginal sites of shared religiosity—spaces where the blood of animals is spilled and, ironically, where political potency can be substantively shored up. The article examines the siting of sacrifice and the purifying majoritarian interventions against it, as Buddhists strive to assert sovereignty over religious others.
Roger Sansi and Luis Nicolau Parés
The debates on identity politics and the invention of tradition led the study of Afro-Brazilian religions to a certain impasse in the 1990s. However, in the last several years, the field has been totally renewed, although in different directions. In this article we will consider some of these new trends, from a wider historical engagement with the Atlantic world, through the religious field and the public sphere, to new approaches to spirit possession and cosmology. Our objective is to assess the extent to which these new debates have managed to overcome this impasse.
The Spatial Turn in Research on Religion
Following a consideration of the impact of the late twentieth-century spatial turn on the study of religion by geographers, anthropologists, sociologists, historians, and religious studies scholars, two trends are distinguished: the poetics of place and the sacred; and politics, religion, and the contestation of space. Discussion of these reveals substantially different approaches to religion, space, and place—one phenomenological, the other social constructivist. The spatial turn has been extremely fruitful for research on religion, bringing together scholars from a variety of disciplines, and connecting not only to traditional areas such as sacred space and pilgrimage, but to new ones such as embodiment, gender, practice and religious-secular engagements.
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?