When the two editors of this journal were approached by Berghahn Books to start an annual journal on religion, they felt the opportunity had arrived to fill a gap oft en remarked upon when anthropologists meet for a coffee or a beer; namely, the one created by the lack of any journal dealing exclusively with the ‘anthropology of religion’. Of course conversations over coffee have to be taken with a pinch of salt (or sugar). The idea of a separate ‘anthropology of religion’—not to mention the notion that there is such a thing as a separate field of human action and thought called ‘religion’—creates an enduring problematic in itself. But even so, scholars claiming to do something of the sort have been active since at least the days of Frazer and Tylor. Approaches oft en portrayed as different, even opposed (e.g., cognitive, phenomenological, structuralist) have been developing their own dynamics, debates, conferences and publications, sometimes in isolation from one another, and sometimes with little or no connection to nonanthropological disciplines also concerned with the study of religion, such as theology, sociology, or religious studies.
Simon Coleman and Ramon Sarró
Dialogues and Trajectories
Simon Coleman and Ramon Sarró
In his luminous reflections on the intellectual trajectory that he has traced so far—beginning with the modern and proceeding through the secular toward the global—José Casanova notes that his evolving interests took him away from anthropology and toward sociology. Yet Casanova’s work has remained influential on, and in conversation with, that of many anthropologists, not least as a result of his desire to transcend a “Western-centric view of history and human development” (this volume) as well as his predictions that Pentecostalism may well become the predominant form of Christianity in the twenty-first century. This second volume of Religion and Society presents Casanova—author of the classic Public Religions in the Modern World (1994)—in dialogue with his own past and shifting present, but also responding to the comments of scholars who are themselves anthropologically informed and yet able to represent perspectives from sociology, theology, and religious studies.
One Hundred Years of Anthropology of Religion
Ramon Sarró, Simon Coleman and Ruy Llera Blanes
One could say that in 2012 the scientific study of religion, particularly in its anthropological form, has become one hundred years old. In 1912, Durkheim published The Elementary Forms of Religious Life, perhaps the most influential book in the social study of religion, and certainly in the anthropology of religion, of the entire twentieth century. But this was not the only seminal work published around a century ago. A little earlier than that, in 1909, Arnold van Gennep’s Les rites de passage inaugurated an interest in liminality and ritual that has accompanied our discipline ever since. That same year, Marcel Mauss wrote La prière, an unfinished thesis that started an equally unfinished interest in prayer, one of the central devotional practices in many religions across the globe. In 1910, Lévy-Bruhl published his first explicitly anthropological book, How Natives Think, a problematic ancestor of a debate about rationality and modes of thought that has accompanied anthropology and philosophy ever since. In 1913, Freud tackled the then fashionable topic of totemism in his Totem and Taboo. Around those early years of the century, too, Max Weber was starting to write about charisma, secularization, and rationalization, topics of enduring interest.
J. D. Y. Peel
Marloes Janson, Wale Adebanwi, David Pratten, Ruth Marshall, Stephan Palmié, Amanda Villepastour, J. D. Y. Peel, Richard Fardon and Ramon Sarró
In Nigeria, a country associated with conflict and violence, a common phrase in Pidgin English used to characterize the nation is “Nigeria is a war.” However, as J. D. Y. Peel has pointed out in his extensive work, Christian-Muslim relations in Nigeria are not marked just by conflict and violence. Christians and Muslims have long lived side by side in Yorubaland in southwestern Nigeria, often in harmony with practitioners of Yoruba religion—the boundaries between the three not always sharply demarcated (Peel 2000). In line with J. D. Y.’s optimistic nature, his work has a positive message: the Yoruba teach us about how different faiths can co-exist in peace.