In the introduction to this special issue, we set the agenda for researching the aspirations and practices of godless people who seek to thin out religion in their daily lives. We reflect on why processes of disengagement from religion have not been adequately researched in anthropology. Locating this issue's articles in the anthropological literature on doubt and atheism, we argue for the importance of a comparative investigation to analyze people's reluctance to pursue religion.
Godless People, Doubt, and Atheism
Ruy Llera Blanes and Galina Oustinova-Stjepanovic
Ruy Llera Blanes and Abel Paxe
In this article we chart the histories and political translations of atheist cultures in Angola. We explore the specific translations of atheist ideologies into practical actions that occurred in the post-independence period in the 1970s–1980s and perform an ethnographic exploration of their legacies in contemporary Angola. We also debate the problem of atheism as an anthropological concept, examining the interfaces between ideology, political agency, and social praxis. We suggest that atheism is inherently a politically biased concept, a product of the local histories and intellectual traditions that shape it.
Materiality and the Morality of Atheist Materialism
Jacob Copeman and Johannes Quack
Atheists are not the only people who donate their bodies, yet the practice is strikingly prevalent in a variety of atheist circles. We concentrate here on the Indian case, exploring body donation as a key instance of the material culture of atheism. Recent efforts to reinvigorate study of the material culture of religion are to be welcomed, but they should be extended to non-religion in order to address the irony that sees scholars representing materialism as an abstract doctrine and, hence, as immaterial. Body donation holds value for Indian atheists as a bridge between 'positive' and 'negative' modes of atheist thought and action. It also provides a ready-made solution for atheist activists keen to circumvent the cadaver-centered death rituals they find so redundant.
Ronjon Paul Datta
Alexander Tristan Riley. Godless Intellectuals? The Intellectual Pursuit of the Sacred Reinvented, New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2010, 298 pp.
We all have our conceptual bugbears, terms which, as anthropologists, cause us trouble. Over the past couple of years, an increasing number of anthropologists working in the anthropology of religion have had to face some newly prominent ones: atheism, godlessness, and (worst of all) non-religion.
That all happened many years ago. To my surprise, and regret, I am the one still here to tell the story. Ruth was younger than me by so many years, but the hand of God works in its own mysterious way. There are those who still say that her death was my punishment for marrying someone like her, from an enemy people and a godless society. So I feel it is up to me to set the record straight. To tell Ruth's story as she might have told it herself. I will do my best and I hope to do justice to an extraordinary woman., who in a brief moment changed my prejudice and fear into acceptance and love. Who gave me a new life. When Oved comes of age he can learn from her own words the story of his true mother.
Jack Hunter, Annelin Eriksen, Jon Mitchell, Mattijs van de Port, Magnus Course, Nicolás Panotto, Ruth Barcan, David M. R. Orr, Girish Daswani, Piergiorgio Di Giminiani, Pirjo Kristiina Virtanen, Sofía Ugarte, Ryan J. Cook, Bettina E. Schmidt and Mylene Mizrahi
Bader, Christopher D., F. Carson Mencken, and Joseph O. Baker, Paranormal America: Ghost Encounters, UFO Sightings, Bigfoot Hunts, and Other Curiosities in Religion and Culture, 272 pp., appendix, notes, references, index. New York: New York University Press, 2017. Paperback, $25.00. ISBN 9780814791356.
Bialecki, Jon, A Diagram for Fire: Miracles and Variation in an American Charismatic Movement, 288 pp., prologue, notes, works cited, index. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2017. Paperback, $34.95. ISBN 9780520294219.
Blanes, Ruy Llera, and Galina Ous tinova- Stjepanovic , eds., Being Godless: Ethnographies of Atheism and Non-Religion, 154 pp., afterword, notes, references, index. New York: Berghahn Books, 2017. Paperback, $27.95. ISBN 9781785335730.
Canals, Roger, A Goddess in Motion: Visual Creativity in the Cult of María Lionza, 212 pp., notes, glossary, references, index. New York: Berghahn Books, 2017. Hardback, $120.00. ISBN 9781785336126.
Desjarlais , Robert, Subject to Death: Life and Loss in a Buddhist World, 304 pp., halftones, postscript, notes, references, index. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016. Paperback, $30.00. ISBN 9780226355870.
Espinosa, Gastón, Latino Pentecostals in America: Faith and Politics in Action, 520 pages, halftones, notes, index. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016. Paperback, $22.95. ISBN 9780674970915.
Folk, Holly, The Religion of Chiropractic: Populist Healing from the American Heartland, 366 pp., halftones, notes, bibliography, index. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2017. Paperback, $34.95. ISBN 9781469632797.
Hannig, Anita, Beyond Surgery: Injury, Healing, and Religion at an Ethiopian Hospital, 256 pp., halftones, notes, references, index. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017. Paperback, $27.50. ISBN 9780226457291.
Haynes, Naomi, Moving by the Spirit: Pentecostal Social Life on the Zambian Copperbelt, 224 pp., illustrations, notes, references, index. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2017. Paperback, $34.95. ISBN 9780520294257.
Ingman, Peik, Terhi Utriainen, Tuija Hovi, and Måns Broo , eds., The Relational Dynamics of Enchantment and Sacralization: Changing the Terms of the Religion Versus Secularity Debate, 292 pp., illustrations, notes, index. Sheffield: Equinox, 2016. Paperback, $29.95. ISBN 9781781794753.
Jokic, Zeljko, The Living Ancestors: Shamanism, Cosmos and Cultural Change among the Yanomami of the Upper Orinoco, 296 pp., illustrations, bibliography, index. New York: Berghahn Books, 2015. Hardback, $130.00. ISBN 9781782388173.
Louis, Bertin M., Jr., My Soul Is in Haiti: Protestantism in the Haitian Diaspora of the Bahamas, 200 pp., notes, references, index. New York: New York University Press, 2015. Hardback, $75.00. ISBN 9781479809936.
Robertson, David G., UFOs, Conspiracy Theories and the New Age: Millennial Conspiracism, 264 pp., illustrations, notes, bibliography, index. London: Bloomsbury, 2017. Paperback, $35.96. ISBN 9781350044982.
Rocha, Cristina, John of God: The Globalization of Brazilian Faith Healing, 288 pp., halftones, notes, references, index. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017. Paperback, $31.95. ISBN 9780190466718.
Woodbine, Onaje X. O., Black Gods of the Asphalt: Religion, Hip-Hop, and Street Basketball, 224 pp., illustrations, notes, bibliography, index. New York: Columbia University Press, 2018. Paperback, $22.00. ISBN 9780231177290.