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The Case for Religious Transmission

Time and Transmission in the Anthropology of Christianity

Vlad Naumescu

Acknowledging the growing interest in issues of religious transmission, this article reviews two promising yet contradictory approaches to religion that could be described as historicist and universalist. It offers an alternative view premised on their convergence in a pragmatic approach that can link the material, contextual, and institutional dimensions of transmission with corresponding cognitive, perceptive, and emotional processes. This perspective recognizes the historicity of religious transmission and its cognitive underpinnings while attending to the materiality of its semiotic forms. The article focuses on the relationship between time and transmission in recent ethnographies of Christianity that show how Christian temporalities influence perceptions of social continuity or rupture and individuals' becoming in history. Within this frame, it examines the case of Old Believers, an apocalyptic movement that emerged out of a schism in seventeenth-century Russian Orthodoxy, to indicate how a pragmatic approach works in practice.

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Keith Egan, Mathias Thaler, Anna Fedele, Maarit Forde, Tuomas Martikainen, Kim Knibbe, Maria M. Griera, Katerina Seraidari, José Mapril, Roger Canals, Diana Espirito Santo, Titus Hjelm, Vlad Naumescu, Vânia Zikán Cardoso, Mathieu Fribault, Rebecca Prentice, Ryan Schram, Jacqueline Ryle, Alexandre Surrallés, James S. Bielo, César Ceriani Cernadas and Maïté Maskens

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