Oddly but tellingly, anthropology has largely treated religion and education separately. Anthropological studies of education have tended to focus on reason and rationality, while those of religion have focused on ritual, belief, magic, and ceremony. Yet there is a missed opportunity, I argue in this essay—one that is perhaps hidden by the history of anthropology itself—for seeing religion and education as folding into one another and at times being indistinguishable. Viewing religion and education as recursively related—including in anthropological and social theory—opens up a conceptual locus and mode for analyzing how the public realm is being newly transformed, and how political orders and governmental regimes emerge, sometimes in accord with, other times in contradistinction to, a 'four-square' model of 'public-education/private-religion' that is associated classically with the modern state.
On the Cultural Politics of Religion and Education
Toward an Ethnography of Education, Religion, and the State
In a major transformation of our times, governmental organizations are increasingly turning to faith-based groups to provide basic public services, including education. Faith-government partnering derives its power symbolically from a higher order than the secular state; the secular world of technical education is metaphorically encircled and uplifted by sacrilized forces. Drawing on fieldwork conducted in Tanzania and in the United States, and on analysis of education policy documents and reports, this article argues that faith-based governmental programs operate by a logic of hierarchical encompassment, a logic by which state education discourses of accountability, efficiency, and standards first supercede and transform the ideal of religious-moral education, defining all citizens as equally protected before the law, and then reinstate religious- moral instruction as a higher order value that, in turn, encompasses technically trained citizens through an ethic that values religion, spirituality, and faith in one God.
Ien Ang, George Baca, Rohan Bastin, Jacob Copeman, Thomas Ernst, Jonathan Friedman, Kingsley Garbett, Diana Glazebrook, Greg Gow, Keith Hart, André Iteanu, Roger Just, Bruce Kapferer, Judith Kapferer, Khalid Koser, Neil Maclean, Jukka Siikala, Amy Stambach, Christopher C. Taylor, Pnina Werbner, and Amanda Wise
Notes on Contributors