A School of Thought in Christian Anthropology

A discussion on ontology, religion, and the limits of secularity

in Religion and Society
Author:
Jon Bialecki Lecturer, University of California, USA jbialecki@ucsd.edu

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Eloise Meneses Director, Eastern University, USA emeneses@eastern.edu

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Abstract

In what follows, Jon Bialecki, an anthropologist of Christianity, and Eloise Meneses, a Christian anthropologist, discuss the matter of ontological differences between anthropologists and how these might be crossed effectively to further the work of the discipline. An analogy is made to computers that must communicate with one another across incompatible operating systems. The discussion begins with a proposal from Eloise that involves entertaining the possibility of schools of thought rooted in differing ontologies.

“No one is truly modern who does not agree to keep God from interfering with Natural Law as well as with the laws of the Republic.”

— Bruno Latour, We Have Never Been Modern (1993: 33)

Eloise

I would like to propose a new school of thought in Christian anthropology. This would be an unremarkable proposal were it not suggesting the use of a religious orientation or perspective in a scientific discipline. We have schools of thought in Marxism, feminism, and other perspectives. Furthermore, none of these is necessarily mutually exclusive. I, for instance, identify as both Christian and Marxist. But I also identify as an economic anthropologist (not an anthropologist of Christianity or of religion), and that is not a school of thought but rather a subdiscipline. So the proposal is not about a difference in subject material; it is about a different subject position (Howell 2007).

A school of thought in Christian anthropology would view both theory and ethnography from a Christian perspective, that is, with Christian starting assumptions rooted in Christian theology, history, and tradition. Not unlike Marxist anthropology, Christian anthropology would hold both ontological and ethical premises, as well as stated teleologies. Of course, I am not suggesting that these premises and ends could not be questioned, both from within and from outside the school of thought. But I am suggesting that appeals could be made to Christian thought and belief when interpreting ethnographic data and theorizing about it in ways that are not now possible.

I am aware that this proposal, along with at least some of the suggestions emerging from the dialogue between anthropology and theology (Fountain 2013; Lemons 2018; Meneses and Bronkema 2017; Robbins 2006, 2020), could give other anthropologists the sense that we are stretching the limits of the discipline's boundaries too far, perhaps threatening its internal structure, even its very cohesion. In anthropology, the central structure of the discipline is more contested than established. Yet, when boundaries are stretched, that structure's very real existence comes into play. In this case, it is the set of tenets that constitute the secular perspective that is most relevant, including (but not limited to) the natural/supernatural and nature/culture divides, a God who is not an actor, religion as socially and culturally constructed, and so on. Khaled Furani (2019: 43) helpfully expands the secular to include “facts, sensibilities, dispositions, orientations, practices, concepts, paradigms and ultimately values” that exclude the divine (which he calls the “theosphere”).

Good work has been done on identifying the genealogy of the secular and its contingent existence (Asad 1993, 2003; Taylor 2007), which was placed into reverse view by ethnography from early on (Evans-Pritchard 1976), and is now being entertained theoretically as well (Robbins 2020; Viveiros de Castro 2014). Yet, even now, to propose a school of thought in Christian anthropology tampers with what arguably has been the one perspective that all anthropologists have shared, at least for purposes of method. Furthermore, if one opens the door to nonsecular perspectives, what would be the limit to what can be allowed without damage to the credibility of the field in the broader academy? One can imagine, for instance, valuable work emerging from Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, and Buddhist schools of thought. But what about scientologist, or creationist, or for that matter openly racist schools of thought? Even I think there must be a limit.

I do not think, however, that it will be easy to determine the criteria for identifying such a limit, and I recognize that this proposal could open a Pandora's box. Still, I feel bound to make the suggestion owing to the fact that I myself, along with many others, have so far been required to live in two worlds and to practice what I consider a very truncated form of analysis. As a Christian and an anthropologist (not a theologian), it is a matter of being able to decompartmentalize my thought and to construct a view of the subject material that is both coherent and whole. The kind of compartmentalization between religious and secular views that is necessary to function as a scholar in the academy may be easier to manage in math or the hard sciences (or may not). But in the social sciences, and especially in a profound study of people, it can leave gaping holes not only in our understanding of human situations but also in our ability to propose wholesome solutions.

For instance, I am currently working on and intending to write about global socioeconomic systems and the problem of poverty. To that larger end, I have been investigating various views on the ontological status of money. Anthropological (and sociological) writings on the subject have been very helpful, describing money as exchange, form, and value that is material, relational, and symbolic, and now a quasi-object. Yet as a Christian I want to go deeper. Does money have a spiritual character? Why did the Apostle Paul say, “The love of money is the root of all evil” (I Timothy 6:10)? What is it about money (whether in material or digital forms, present or futuristically imagined) that gets buried in human hearts and relationships such that they are willing to protect and enrich themselves to the exclusion and harm of their neighbors? Marxist thought enters the analysis at this point and leads me naturally toward Christian views of God's purposes for society and of our human deviation from them (Milbank 2006).

How will such a work be received? Or, for that matter, how can it be received by those who do not share Christian faith and assumptions? There is an ontological divide here that seems uncrossable. With regard to the ongoing discussions between anthropology and theology, in a previous essay you have pointed out that the most serious problem with dialogue across ontologies is the difficulty in critiquing the proposals made (Bialecki 2018: para. 17). Recently you have proposed an analogy to different “operating systems,” that is, programs that are built on such different platforms that they cannot communicate directly with one another (Bialecki 2022). I can easily find resonances with that analogy since, as both a Christian and an anthropologist, I wrestle constantly with the two languages involved and with the difficulty of resolving them into a common conversation. Furthermore, as with operating systems, the difference runs deep, involving reality itself. In fact, I wouldn't want those who do not think the divine is real to be forced to agree to it any more than I want myself to functionally have to deny it. This is a matter not of the relativity of truth but of fairness, of a level playing field for all participants.

Still, no one is forced to agree with what they read. Differences in theoretical perspectives, including mutually incompatible ones such as the extremes of materialist and idealist positions, are part of what makes our field dynamic. Furthermore, theorizing across differences also occurs and adds value over time. Sometimes full conversions occur, as when we all gave up unconsidered ethnocentrism (or tried to). So it seems to me that if there is a criterion for maintaining even loose or flexible boundaries around the discipline of anthropology, it should be the Kuhnian one of provisionally held paradigms that gain general acceptance over time, or lose it. I am suggesting that we give the idea of a school of thought in Christian anthropology a shot. The onus would be on the adherents to demonstrate the value added. But certainly an expansion of the discipline's current parameters, factors that define the field, would be needed to permit it a hearing.

Jon

There is nothing more shrill in academic discussions than the sound of a police officer's whistle. I certainly don't want what I say here to be taken as what people should or should not be doing. I am certainly not against having dialogues that breach fundamental ontological divides; the very presence of this document attests to the fact that both of us endorse these sorts of conversations, and later on in our exchange, when I return to the partial metaphor, partial schematic of a protocol, I will be offering it in furtherance of further discussions and mutual feedback. And I wholeheartedly agree with your statement that “no one is forced to agree with what they read.” Also, I can imagine the pain accompanying the plight of having to compartmentalize core aspects of one's cognitive armature, even if I suspect that this is a problem that in anthropology may not be unique to those with religious commitments. Finally, when I use the term secular in this discussion, I want to be clear that I am not endorsing secularism as a final horizon of rational human thought, and that I acknowledge that secularism has come with some deeply troubling aspects, or at the very least that secularism's claims to universality is at best suspect.

And here it is, the ‘but’ you have been waiting for, or at least been tiredly expecting as you read that previous paragraph. So, now to get to it: but I worry that this project you are proposing has deep flaws, and risks running afoul of some quite troubling dangers, and might allow for some less gifted academics to fall prey to some of their weaknesses. Again, this does not mean that it is fatally flawed: every academic project has fissures, sharp edges, and blind spots, so to single out your endeavor could only be an act locatable somewhere on a continuum that runs from churlish to discriminatory. Further, there are times when a bug can be massaged into a feature, or look like a positive instead of a negative when viewed from certain vantages; I want to be clear that this is only a statement of how your project appears when viewed from my position, and not from some fictive absolute judgment of it (though whether such a vantage is fictive may be a point where we are not fully in agreement—not to say, of course, that you are claiming to inhabit such as space!). So I hope you take this in the sense of how I intend to offer it: light back-and-forth for purposes of mutually beneficial training and exercise rather than as sparring or open combat.

You mention that you are not an anthropologist of Christianity. But I am. I bring this up in part because I will later circle back to the anthropology of Christianity, but also to meditate on what the stakes are in the particular mode of Christian anthropology being proposed. Specifically, I do this because the project you put forward, a non-anthropology-of-Christianity-oriented Marxist analysis informed by Christian views regarding money, sounds entirely unobjectionable. So unobjectionable, in fact, that it probably speaks to the hearts (to use a perhaps inaptly religious metaphor, considering my position here) of many secular anthropologists, even if they would use a different set of source domains in making their own parallel arguments. That is because, in some aspects, there is not much light between certain anthropological and Christian sensibilities here. One could, in fact, also imagine this project being cast, at least as it is presented here, in secular language; there are undoubtedly secular articulations of the Christian imaginings of money that can serve as a functional stand-in, much like E. E. Evans-Pritchard's religious sensibilities found a way to wear a secular guise when he was writing Nuer Religion (see Larsen 2014: 107–111).

This possible resonance between a secular and a Christian anthropological analysis suggests a few possibilities. If we can have a secular and a Christian articulation of the same Marxist project, then what we have is something along the lines of theming, the way that a restaurant might take on a certain aesthetic in its advertising, art, and language but still be functionally another iteration of the same sorts of restaurants one sees in other locales, different only in the choice of how they market their food. Another possibility in the scenario I've spun here—a Christian ethnographic or anthropological project that happens to be amenable to secular anthropological sensibilities and politics—is that its Christianity is doing work. But the work being done might have to do not with the nominal ethnographic material and theoretical argument of the work but rather with some other issue. The lazy choice here on my part would be to suggest that the self-avowed Christianity component might be a form of proselytization; I can't imagine you doing that, but I could see less gifted anthropologists taking that turn. And again, this danger is not unique to a Christian anthropology alone; there are all sorts of anthropological groupings, schools, and movements that work to persuade and seduce. Still, a use of Christian doctrine and theology merely for rhetorical purposes is arguably ungainly. And this is not considering other real work that the Christianity might be doing in this hypothetical project; an intervention in intra-Christian debates, or making room for the acceptability of some new approach in denominationally or religiously affiliated colleges and universities, to put forward two possibilities that come readily to mind. And again, this would not be a tactic particular to this proposed school of anthropology in any way. But a piece of Christian-oriented academia that crosses over to an anthropological secular intellectual territory space only to be able to cross back and do its work on Christian academia or Christianity itself seems like a poorly fated endeavor.

Again, this is just a hypothetical, weighted toward generating less healthy scholarship, a purposeful leaning into unhappy scenarios. It could well be that a biblical sensibility would substantively be a difference that makes a difference, generating useful insights. But then, the question is, which Biblical sensibilities? One could imagine that a Marxian analysis that is coupled to views of money and wealth drawn from the Prosperity Gospel, for instance, might be a pretty different beast. (An unlikely scenario, to be sure, but sometimes an exaggeratedly stark opposition can illuminate the point, albeit in a slightly cartoonish way.) And would the principles being chosen out of a multitude of Christian understandings be selected based on what produces the best scholarship, or would it be driven by either personal or institutional fideistic concerns? If one is locked into certain tenets at the beginning, then the decentering work of ethnography, the transformative shock that comes with engaging a differently arranged mode of life, and therefore anthropology, might be foreclosed from the start. This is not to say that other anthropologies are immune from this danger—indeed, the fixities and invariances of secular anthropological thought have been given a great deal of attention as of late—or that religious life does not have its own moments and modes of interruption and surprise (see, e.g., Bialecki 2017). But there does seem to be a risk that because one's position is not just socially grounded in something beyond academic scholarship, but intellectually grounded outside too, there might be a lack of pliability that would appear dogmatic. (Though I realize that my classifying Christian thought as outside academic scholarship is to a degree to presume through definition the very point I'm arguing for here.)

Debates over which expression of a theory or philosophy might be the right one to use are nothing new. Indeed, catalyzing debates over points like this may well be one of the benefits of such a proposed movement. But in this case, the possibility of being locked into specific positions based on first principles does come with a particular danger, one that, because of my background as an anthropologist of Christianity (which, again, is something different from a Christian anthropologist), I find particularly chilling. As the imagined ethnographic object of a Christian anthropology drifts more in the direction of religion, the choice of what Christian standpoint to inhabit becomes more important, and the consequences, regardless of what choice is made, become increasingly fraught. To the degree that there is a disconnect between the faith of the ethnographer and the faith of their interlocutors in the field, the ultimate resulting ethnography can only be critical-but-not-critique, or alternatively, patronizing. But what is worse is when there is a fit between faith. The focus shifts from the sociological to the theological, as the possibility conditions for whatever collectivity is the object of inquiry disappear; if the mode of life being lived is true, as confirmed by theology and doctrine, then whatever other explanation is necessary? It would seem that, if real, God would trump the social sciences. At the same moment, having like explain like means that any internal variation is annulled, either by being discounted as immaterial or through having any dissidents classificatorily resituated as outside either the group or poor members of the group, because those dissidents would not hold the same convictions as the ethnographer; rather than having the population test the ethnographer, the ethnographer tests the population (see Bialecki 2018). And what variation remains is made invisible; if the debates and contestation don't touch on the theological, and hence now theoretical, issues chosen by the ethnographer, these debates cannot be seen as meaningfully material.

And how does someone outside this particular movement argue with such an analysis in a way that is about the substance of the claim being made? We are discussing the viability of such an anthropological movement, but that is something different than contesting individual claims made by someone adhering to such an approach. If what we have is theory set in place by revelation, or even more troubling, revelation as theory, then opponents can do only what others do when faced with claims of revelation: either accede to it, or . . . be placed in whatever category one is situated in when one rejects revelation, be it either blind, blinkered, stubborn, or damned. One could imagine that in cases where there is not a theological alignment between ethnographer and interlocutor, other potential Christian understandings could be presented, as counter-hypothetical if nothing else. But where there is this alignment between the ethnographic writer and the ethnographic written, then ethnographic description, theo-anthropological theory, and the overall fidelity to entities natural and supernatural merge, creating a crystal that there is no way of getting into—and no avenue for escaping.

Again, I am not saying that anthropologists cannot think with ethnography or that religiously oriented anthropologists are incapable of using doctrinally oriented religious convictions or understandings when producing ethnographic writing or anthropological theory (one particular favorite example of this is Brian Howell's [2017] essay on using Christian mysteries as a way of imagining the ethnographic encounter). But it seems to me that such a process works only if there is a moment or an air of disconnection, where such thought is either carried out ironically (in the Kierkegaardian sense of the term) or bracketed at critical passages. It works as either explanandum or as a metaphor, not as explanans alone. Ethnography and anthropology, after all, provide a way to get outside one's own convictions; it is about an encounter with modes of thought and ways of being that one has not already been shaped by. And I have anxieties about such an encounter in the project being proposed. I am also aware of the irony of a secular anthropologist insisting on the importance of a secular framework because such a frame opens oneself to difference. So it might be best to say that what I'm expressing here are anxieties, and not the rational for some interdict, and I am more than happy if you can allay my concerns, by showing either how they could be met or why they are not well-grounded in the first place!

Eloise

First, I think your fears are well-grounded, so in what follows I will attempt to allay them. They are well-grounded because it is possible for scholars to have hidden agendas and to be so blinded by them as to have detrimental results to the scholarship. Political ideologies can have this result as easily as religious ones, maybe more so. Again, the parallel to Marxist thought is helpful, I think, where some of the works provide profound insight and others seem blinkered. Then, just generally, it is always difficult, and annoying, to try to speak to someone who is determined not to listen. And when that determination is rooted in a sense of superior knowledge, held a priori, it can be next to impossible to have a conversation at all.

So how then can we avoid this kind of rigidity? You mention three possible ways in which a Christian anthropology might be approached: as relatively acceptable proposals put into different language, as work done with an alternate agenda (such as proselytization), or as providing useful insights. Of course, I am referring to the last of these in my proposal of a Christian anthropology (with a caveat that I'll give below), but your concern here is that a religious commitment will cause an ethnographer to be either too critical of interlocutors with different commitments or completely uncritical of those with the same commitments. Either way the anthropology will not be good, in no small part because the relevant critical tools are being chosen not by a criterion of best scholarship, but by personal or institutional commitments.

I have found the work of Michael Polanyi on the nature of practiced science to be very helpful in describing how faith commitments and reasoned research can be, not competitors, but mutually beneficial tools for the advancement of knowledge in a field. Polanyi begins by pointing out that if we were to truly examine the universe objectively it would result in “a lifelong preoccupation with interstellar dust.” Instead, he says, “as human beings, we must inevitably see the universe from a centre shaped by the exigencies of human intercourse” (1974: 3). Polanyi goes on to build a case for a fideistic epistemology of science that relies on a combination of previously established truths, passed down by tradition and held constant for the moment, and intuitive leaps of faith, guided by “clues” obtained by immersing oneself in the subject. In this way, a researcher can contact a reality that is not immediately apparent to others, and then endeavor to promote it as universally true. The stakes are high, says Polanyi, and the risk of failure in the sense of getting it wrong is very real. Still, researchers must take the risk of actively promoting their views in the hopes that others will “see” what they see.

So, to your point that dogma will cause Christian anthropologists to be locked into certain views, unwilling to critically assess them for their explanatory or truth value (or lack thereof), I would begin by saying that, on the one hand, Christian theology is not just dogma in the negative sense, but also a discipline of inquiry. It exists precisely because we do not know about God, ourselves, or the world, and, with the help of the narrative of Scripture and church tradition (which is parallel to scientific tradition for this purpose), are trying to think things through. Even these things—Scripture, church tradition, and our understanding of revelation—must be tested, interpreted, applied, and so on. As you mention above, there is plenty of room for debate over dogma; in fact, arguably, the church has been a hotbed of such debate down through the centuries of its existence.

But, on the other hand, Polanyi's primary point is that faith (dogma in the good sense) is an essential protection for all knowing against the deeply corrosive effects of unending skepticism (1974: 245). He comments, “Doubt has been acclaimed not only as the touchstone of truth, but also as the safeguard of tolerance . . . It remains deeply ingrained in the modern mind . . . that though doubt may become nihilistic and imperil thereby all freedom of thought, to refrain from belief is always an act of intellectual probity as compared with the resolve to hold a belief . . . [which] is felt to be a surrender of reason” (271). This belief in skepticism as the most trustworthy path to knowledge is neither actually practiced nor of supreme value in science, according to Polanyi. Rather, all knowledge is necessarily “personal knowledge,” not in the sense of a mere personal opinion, but in the sense of something held as a faith-based commitment.

All this is not to say that we should have no constraints on what we propose or why we propose it. The Western academy has a culture like any other human institution, which means that it has values (honesty, diligence, fairness), standards (degrees, academic positions), rules for processes (of discourse and communication), and goals (the advancement of knowledge)—and it should, even must, have these things. There must be some structure to our conversations. But I find the rule against using religiously based thought as an explanatory or critical tool to be regrettable, as do at least some others. The general understanding is that this rule is necessary to protect science. But in fact the reason for its existence is historical, rooted in the very unfortunate wars between the Christians of sixteenth-century Europe. It can be hard to remember that there was indeed science before that, and that in the West it was done primarily by monks who did not think that the study of God precluded doing due diligence to the study of the world.

I can hear, and feel the force of, the objection most would make. The last four hundred years of secularism has opened up an arena in which scientific inquiry has more than ignited, it has exploded. Science would not have gotten this far this fast without secularism, or so it seems. Still, our confidence in the secular arena, even as a purely intellectual space (much less a political one), is now being threatened. Polanyi comments, “The critical movement, which seems to be nearing the end of its course today, was perhaps the most fruitful effort ever sustained by the human mind . . . But its incandescence had fed on the combustion of the Christian heritage in the oxygen of Greek rationalism, and when this fuel was exhausted the critical framework itself burnt away” (1974: 265–266).

Being a Christian, I find that the crisis in knowing we are experiencing now causes me to turn to the long history of the church tradition rooted in the Bible. So perhaps this can serve as another example of what a Christian anthropology might look like. Reading the Bible as a narrative whole, and watching for underlying themes (not just specific verses), the ontology is of Creator and creation, with humanity as representatives of God on Earth with associated responsibilities; and the epistemology is one of faithful (or unfaithful) witness to the limited knowledge imparted to us by God. Does viewing the world through this ontological and epistemological lens mean that I will claim to know more than you do about a particular subject? No, because my witness is always based on partial (and fallible) knowledge, embodied in my own life story, and passed on from one person to another as personal knowledge, not pronounced from on high. Particularly in the New Testament, that is how the most important knowledge, that of Jesus’ identity, was passed on. There was no expectation that others would not have a choice. On the contrary, persuasion was used, and unlike scientific pronouncements, there was always an invitation to believe.

That brings me to the caveat I mentioned above. You very kindly exclude me from the category of those who would try to proselytize for the faith in the academy. But I honestly have trouble telling the difference between trying to persuade someone of the value of a theory and trying to persuade them of a religious commitment (given that such commitments do change). In fact, it seems to me that we try to persuade one another all the time. “Try the chocolate!” Why do we do this? Of course, there is an injunction in Christianity, rooted in Jesus’ own words, that we “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19–20). But I think it is a deeper matter than just a single injunction. Polanyi writes about the need we have to convince others, which I will quote at length because of its relevance to this concern:

Heuristic passion seeks no personal possession. It sets out not to conquer but to enrich the world. Yet such a move is also an attack. It raises a claim and makes a tremendous demand on other men; for it asks that its gift to humanity be accepted by all. In order to be satisfied, our intellectual passions must find response. This universal intent creates a tension: we suffer when a vision of reality to which we have committed ourselves is contemptuously ignored by others. For a general unbelief imperils our own convictions by evoking an echo in us. Our vision must conquer or die. (1974: 150)

So would Christians, and others, try to proselytize for their faiths in the academy? Probably! But it seems to me that the academy, with its requirements for weighing the evidence and providing reasoned arguments, would be an especially well-equipped arena in which to assess the proposals being made.

As for the quality of the scholarship, that is simply a matter of holding to standards. I have always been clear that a Christian anthropology must be well researched, well considered, and well presented. Furthermore, representing others fairly and accurately in ethnography must be done honestly by anyone, and there must be daylight between the ethnographer and the interlocutors or there is no point in writing at all. The only matter remaining is whether real conversations, in which there are mutual touchpoints of understanding, can be had between anthropologists of such widely differing ontologies. And here I think language is actually a significant barrier. For instance, referring to the earth as ‘creation’ versus referring to it as ‘a planet’ calls to mind two very different understandings of the universe. Michael Lambek (2012) would call them incommensurable terms and insist that we must use the secular one in anthropology. But secular terms package meanings in ways that forbid me to describe the larger order in which I think human life takes place, much less to offer it purpose or “hope for real change” (Robbins 2006: 293). So it seems to me that we need some minimal means of communication that will allow us to understand one another, to promote ideas, to resist and debate them, and to hope for perhaps unexpectedly positive outcomes.

Jon

I have to admit that what you put forward is both measured, self-consistent, and rational; further, you've been more than clear that many of my misgivings are yours as well and that you've already meditated on how to avoid, alleviate, or reclassify them. Still, I find myself troubled. I'm troubled not only by the concerns that we've traded back and forth, but by another issue that is situated right at the edge of my ability to articulate, unfortunately, so I hope you'll forgive me if I have trouble laying it out with all the clarity that I might like (and perhaps, with the degree of clarity that you might favor as well). Something about the way that this proposal has been put forward—and to be honest, about the way that I have responded to it as well—seems to unconsciously posit religion as secularism's other. This bent is problematic in that it occludes how deeply the religious and the secular are intertwined in this dispensation (Asad 2003), and now much of what is recognized as religion is a function of the state legal apparatus (e.g., Sullivan 2005; see also McIvor 2020). Perhaps what is more salient for anthropology, though, is that the logic of religion as secularism's other situates religion as the space of freedom outside of the academy; we see this in discussions where religion is the space of what is spoken about as infinite and as true difference, as a ‘theosphere’ (Furani 2019); this move I would argue works to either parochialize or obscure other forms of radical difference and incommensurable thought that are situated outside of secularism, anthropology, and religion.

However, it is unfair to lay this at the feet of your proposed new school of anthropology; after all, even if one were to grant that my (somewhat fuzzy) claim has some validity to it, foreclosing a Christian anthropology would not undo the cultural logics that are brought to the fore by a discussion of this hypothetical school's existence. And, while I am skeptical, it may be that the establishment of such a school as you propose would move us closer to a sort of post-secularism that would constitute not a return to pre-secular intellectual formations nor the creation of a secularism in a non-secular drag, but perhaps to something new. So it might be that the best way forward for someone in my position is not to either labor to dissuade you, or alternately just to ignore your proposal (as I am sure many others will do), but rather to find ways that we can have our scholarship—and particularly our ethnographic work—continue to communicate with one another.

A breakdown of conversation is a concern, of course, because your project implies an ontology that is quite differently arrayed than what we might call the ‘assumed ethnography’ of secular-academic anthropology. I call this an ‘assumed ethnography’ because what I am thinking of is not the actual ontological commitments and presuppositions that anthropologists may hold as individuals or even as members of collectivities but rather as adherents to methodological atheism that characterizes much of the discipline; there is more than one anthropologist who brackets their religiosity when acting in a professional mode.

Methodological atheism, of course, does not preclude the appearance of at least some forms of the sort of entities and phenomena that stand at the heart of much of religious life. I've argued that certain modes of speculative realism allow for the presence of ‘supernatural’ beings and events in an agentive way that exceeds any idea of them as merely human representations, which is, I would argue, the status they are given in most of cultural anthropology (see Bialecki 2014, 2022).1 However, these are entities that are ‘real’ only to the extent that under this ontology, everything, even fictive entities, are real in that even fictive things have effects and thus can be said to exist, and these entities are agentive only to the degree that they are the locus for emergent effects created by the interactions of other processes, systems, and entities. But as observed by a critic, such a position is unlikely to be persuasive to those whose ontological commitments include granting the divine a reality in the more traditionally understood sense of things (Robbins 2020: 149–151).

Of course, ontological differences are often capable of being framed as more insurmountable obstacles than they actually are. But disjuncts between ontologies still challenge. As I have said elsewhere:

One of the facts about ontologies is that they are neither fungible nor commutable; even if one may, say, shift from a dividual to an individualist footing and back again depending on the situation, it is still difficult to see these two positions as just topological variants of one another. People can cross ontologies. But ontologies cannot be mapped onto one another. (Lemons et al 2022: xxx)

But there are other things that cannot be mapped onto each—such as operating systems. Operating systems can be thought of as autonomous architectures of information, each processing its material in its own manner; alternately, we could think of them as separate languages. Despite this difference, though, networked operating systems are enabled to communicate with each other through protocols, which operate something like a metalanguage—or more properly, a metagrammar—that orders, sequences, marks, and routes packets of information. This second-tier organizing principle enables two things. First, such marking prevents any contamination, as the information is passed from machine to machine as it works its way across the network. Second, it allows for recipient machines to understand what sort of data each packet is intended to be by the sending machine. It does not mandate that the information be used in such a manner—it cannot mandate its use—but it does facilitate data's interoperability.

This discussion of protocols and metagrammars is obviously a metaphor, and perhaps a dangerous metaphor, given that I'm working at the very fringes of my technical ability to understand. And as you will see, there is something tragically nostalgic about the modernist sensibilities underlying this metaphor, too. But it is still possible to imagine some kind of ‘network protocol’ for a decentered, yet hopefully still networked, anthropology. And luckily, such a protocol is basically an argument for a phenomenon-focused ethnography: a dedication to fine-grain evidence and a purposeful disjunct between evidence and claim so that moments of induction, deduction, and abduction are marked, allowing not only for repurposing or counter-readings of evidence but also what might be called ‘allegorical’ readings of theoretical claims, where organizing motifs (such as “money being the root of all evil”) can be rearticulated with similar structured but substantively different statements (“money functions to inevitably trigger a particular set of anti-social behaviors”).

Again, there are problems with this. Owing to issues of how saliency and attention are shaped by frames, separating evidence and theory is most likely impossible, at least if the test of possibility is complete success without any remainder. However, I imagine that, as an evangelical, you're at least conceptually open to a system that presumes a certain fallenness and brokenness—and one that might need just a little bit of grace to succeed!

Eloise

I continue to be struck by our points of agreement (part of the reason I thought we could write this dialogue successfully). To begin with, we agree that we disagree on ontology and that that matters, a point that is sometimes glossed over in well-intended efforts to be collegial. And we agree that ontologies are not just versions of one another, or of some more basic generally accepted ontology, as your very helpful quote above makes clear. Thus, while ontologies can be crossed, in a process that Christians (and others) might call ‘conversion’, they cannot be reduced to one another. In general, reductionism is a problem because it is an intellectual takeover of one ontology by another.

Also, I do like your solution to the problem of incommensurability through phenomenon-focused ethnography. It seems to me to be the only way forward. But I'll highlight the deep paradox at play that you note. On the one hand, our theoretical orientations pervade our very ability to perceive objects, and certainly so in the area of social life. So there really is no such thing as just the data. And on the other hand, it is at the point of observation that we must meet, partly because it is the purpose of the discipline, and partly because it is the arena in which the truth can most readily confront our preconceptions and possibly alter our thinking. Then, it is just a matter of fairness and honesty that we acknowledge those points at which we are theorizing and place a degree of distance between our own views and those of our interlocutors. Yes, this is all a matter of fallenness and grace!

Particularly helpful from the computer world is the notion that protocols allow information to cross operating systems without losing all their original contexts (by sending it in packets). Here that would mean that conceptions of the divine, for instance, would need to retain something of their origin lest they be reduced to another ontology. It is true that this would make for some awkwardness in the use of these concepts. But that awkwardness might be the very means of bringing insight from one ontology to another, as in the case of referring to the world as ‘creation’ rather than ‘planet’.

Finally, as for the matter of opposing religions to the secular, from a Christian theological standpoint the secular arena is actually necessary for human freedom, including the freedom to reject God's offer of reconciliation (Newbigin 2011: 21–22). But there is an irony in modern secularism: it was declared to be an arena free of religious constraint, but now is experienced by religious people as confining (cf. Asad 2013). Perhaps our point of agreement here is that some measure of freedom is necessary to academic pursuits, and that we both encourage “a decentered, yet still hopefully networked, anthropology.” As for the proposed school of thought in Christian anthropology, I'll just reiterate that the onus is on us to prove the value added. Through a project at my university that includes an online journal, entitled “On Knowing Humanity,” we are endeavoring to do just that.

Jon

I want to close by noting that while we may be done (after all, there are restraints on length thanks to limitations of paper as a material substrate, and even more significant constraints on how much we can feel comfortable taxing our readers’ attention spans!), we are by no means finished. There is, in other words, much more to explore.

First, there are those issues that we have already touched on in passing but not grappled with in necessary detail. As an example, I feel that we have only scratched the surface when it comes to the presentation of ‘supernatural’ or more-than-human entities in anthropology; what is at stake when we include these beings in both methodologically atheist works (Bialecki 2014; Schielke 2019) and in ethnographies predicated on the sorts of ontologies that you are suggesting here? Given that we are in an age where anthropologists can unproblematically call for an “ethnography of God” (Mittermaier 2021), it seems that fleshing out details of how to use the metaphorical protocols to read across ontological divides would be an effort worth undertaking.

A second class of concerns we would undoubtedly address in a more extended exchange involves the political. My mind was turned to this issue by your observation that secularism “was declared to be an arena free of religious constraint, but now is eperienced by religious people as confining.” This comment raises the question of what work an intellectual freedom from secularism would do for those who feel so limited by the construct. The importance of ontology to your project is probably key in thinking this through. Some of the nthropologists who have championed ‘ontology’ as a new theoretical way forward have claimed that the pluriverse supposedly opened up by this approach is by its nature liberatory; ontologically inflected anthropology is a political project aiming for the “permanent decolonization of thought” (Viveiros de Castro 2011: 128) and the “ontological self-determination of the world's people” (Holbraad et al. 2014).

This liberatory potential is usually understood as resulting from the way that allowing ontologies to proliferate contributes to the provincialization of Europe as just another territory rather than viewing it as the fulcrum of world history (see Chakrabarty 2000). Whatever one thinks of this claim in general, it is not clear that it holds here. Christianity has never been solely a European-settler religion, and the fact that the faith's current demographic center of gravity lies outside Europe and anglophone North America makes that point more true now than it has ever been over the last half-millennium. Still, as either justification of or means for expansion, it is undeniable that there is an intimate, if complex, relationship between Christianity and colonialism. Then there is the point that in the current domestic political climate, a faith in the automatic, liberatory promise of a Christian-leaning ontology seems even less convincing given the rise of Christian Nationalism, both within and without the West.

Then again, not all forms of Christianity were complicit in colonialism, and some forms were shaped by an active opposition to it. There is also the fact that an engagement with “disappointing subalterns” (Bialecki et al. 2008: 1140)—or even engaging ethnographically with people who are not subaltern at all—does not invalidate a project. On top of that, there is the possibility that all forms of decolonization are not necessarily goods in and of themselves; as Yasmin Moll (2023) has recently pointed out, it is also important to consider what comes after epistemic and ontological decolonization, as some post-secular, illiberal decolonial ontologies and epistemes can be as exclusionary as some of the liberal, secular ontologies and epistemes that they would supplant. Finally, we would have to weigh in the blunt fact that those drawn to your proposed school do not seem in any way sympathetic to some of the more unsettling political projects associated with colonial Christianity and Christian nationalism; I doubt very much your Marxian sensibilities would mark you as an acceptable ‘fellow traveler’ to unsettling Christian Nationalist movements and figures!

It is probably unfair of me to raise these issues in the concluding moments of our back-and-forth; perhaps it is enough to note that the political valence of your proposed school is an open question, and more productive conversations could be had if time and space allowed. But then, many aspects of your proposed school of anthropology have an open end to them. I mean this last observation not as criticism but as something positive—a project that arrives fully formed has no room to grow, and a project that is already protected by a regimented apologetic shell in its first moments is one that neither seeks nor engages in the kind of dialogue we have here. This willingness to engage is important because, for those like me who do not feel called to be a part of your project, dialogues like this one may well be the most important part of the project. Foreclosing in advance novel theoretical directions in anthropology does no one any good. Such limitations serve only to frustrate and marginalize those who would wish to go in these new directions. And unspoken bans on new proposals do nothing more than allow for the thought of those critics who would question these novel directions to grow sclerotic. Encounters like the one that we've had here are good for anthropology as a whole; perhaps, from time to time, they are even essential for the discipline. So, I want to close by thanking you for taking the time and intellectual energy you brought to this project, and I can only hope that you feel the same about me as an interlocutor as well.

Eloise

Absolutely!

Note

1

Similarly, at other times, I have posited that there are situations where it is a mistake to ‘go behind’ some phenomena, such as miracles, as attempts to ‘explain’ them via any mechanism, be it materialist-reductive or theological-religious, occludes the formal features of what is being investigated (Bialecki 2017). Such a move is more of a bracketing of ontology, though, than taking an ontological stance.

References

  • Asad, Talal. 1993. Genealogies of Religion: Discipline and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Islam. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

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  • Asad, Talal. 2003. Formations of the Secular: Christianity, Islam, Modernity. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

  • Asad, Talal. 2013. “Free Speech, Blasphemy, and Secular Criticism.” In Is Critique Secular? Blasphemy, Injury, and Free Speech, ed. Talal Asad, Wendy Brown, Judith Butler, and Saba Mahmood, 1435. New York: Fordham University Press.

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    • Export Citation
  • Bialecki, Jon. 2014. “Does God Exist in Methodological Atheism? On Tanya Luhrman's When God Talks Back and Bruno Latour.” Anthropology of Consciousness 25 (1): 3252. https://doi.org/10.1111/anoc.12017

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bialecki, Jon. 2017. A Diagram for Fire: Miracles and Variation in an American Charismatic Movement. Berkeley: University of California Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bialecki, Jon. 2018. “Anthropology and Theology in Parallax.” Anthropology of This Century 22. http://aotcpress.com/articles/anthropology-theology-parallax.

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    • Export Citation
  • Bialecki, Jon. 2022. “Harman, a Prophet, a Church, a Name: A Portrait of Four Objects.” In Philosophy on Fieldwork: Case Studies in Anthropological Analysis, ed. Nils Bubandt and Thomas Schwarz Wentzer, 249266. London: Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bialecki, Jon, Naomi Haynes, and Joel Robbins. 2008. “The Anthropology of Christianity.” Religion Compass 2 (6): 11391158. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1749-8171.2008.00116.x

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chakrabarty, Dipesh. 2000. Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Evans-Pritchard, E. E. 1976. Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic among the Azande. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Fountain, Philip. 2013. “Toward a Post-Secular Anthropology.” Australian Journal of Anthropology 24 (3): 310328. https://doi.org/10.1111/taja.12053

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Furani, Khaled. 2019. Redeeming Anthropology: A Theological Critique of a Modern Science. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Holbraad, Martin, Morten Axel Pedersen, and Eduardo Viveiros de Castro. 2014. “The Politics of Ontology: Anthropological Positions.” Society for Cultural Anthropology, 13 January. https://culanth.org/fieldsights/the-politics-of-ontology-anthropological-positions.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Howell, Brian M. 2007. “The Repugnant Cultural Other Speaks Back: Christian Identity as Ethnographic ‘Standpoint’.” Anthropological Theory 7 (4): 371391. https://doi.org/10.1177/1463499607083426

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    • Export Citation
  • Howell, Brian M. 2017. “Mystery: To Know and Be Known in Ethnography.” In Meneses and Bronkema 2017: 3353. New York: Routledge.

  • Lambek, Michael. 2012. “Facing Religion, From Anthropology.” Anthropology of This Century May (4). http://aotcpress.com/articles/facing-religion-anthropology.

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    • Export Citation
  • Larsen, Timothy. 2014. The Slain God: Anthropologists and the Christian Faith. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Latour, Bruno. 1993. We Have Never Been Modern. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

  • Lemons, J. Derrick, ed. 2018. Theologically Engaged Anthropology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Lemons, J. Derrick, Courtney Handman, Jon Bialecki, Naomi Haynes, Maya Mayblin, Timothy Larsen, and Joel Robbins. 2022. “Book Forum on Joel Robbins’ Theology and the Anthropology of and Christian Life.” Anthropology and History 33 (4): 516547. https://doi.org/10.1080/02757206.2022.2119232

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    • Export Citation
  • McIvor, Méadhbh. 2020. Representing God: Christian Legal Activism in Contemporary England. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

  • Meneses, Eloise, and David Bronkema, eds. 2017. On Knowing Humanity: Insights from Theology for Anthropology. New York: Routledge.

  • Milbank, John. 2006. Theology and Social Theory: Beyond Secular Reason. Malden, MA Blackwell.

  • Mittermaier, Amira. 2021. “Beyond the Human Horizon.” Religion and Society: Advances in Research 12: 2138. https://doi.org/10.3167/arrs.2021.120103.

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    • Export Citation
  • Moll, Yasmin. 2023. “Can There Be a Godly Ethnography? Islamic Anthropology, Epistemic Decolonization, and the Ethnographic Stance.” American Anthropologist 125 (4): 746760. https://doi.org/10.1111/aman.13911

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Newbigin, Lesslie. 2011. A Faith for This One World. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock.

  • Polanyi, Michael. 1974. Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-critical Philosophy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  • Robbins, Joel. 2006. “Anthropology and Theology: An Awkward Relationship?Anthropological Quarterly 79 (2): 285294.

  • Robbins, Joel. 2020. Theology and the Christian Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Schielke, Samuli. 2019. “The Power of God: Four Proposals for an Anthropological Engagement.” ZMO Programmatic Texts 13.

  • Sullivan, Winnifred. 2005. The Impossibility of Religious Freedom. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

  • Taylor, Charles. 2007. A Secular Age. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

  • Viveiros de Castro, Eduardo. 2011. “Zeno and the Art of Anthropology: Of Lies, Beliefs, Paradoxes, and Other Truths.” Common Knowledge 17 (1): 128145. https://doi.org/10.1215/0961754X-2010-045

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  • Viveiros de Castro, Eduardo. 2014. Cannibal Metaphysics. Minneapolis, MN: Univocal Publishing.

Contributor Notes

ELOISE MENESES is a cultural anthropologist and Director of the MA in Theological and Cultural Anthropology at Eastern University. She is currently investigating and writing about a faith-based and anthropologically informed approach to global economic processes and the problem of poverty. Her publications include “Engaging the Religiously Committed Other: Anthropologists and Theologians in Dialogue” (coauthored, Current Anthropology, 2014), “Religiously Engaged Ethnography” (Ethnos, 2019), Love and Revolutions (2007), and Studying the Image (2019). She is editor of the On Knowing Humanity Journal, which brings a Christian theologically informed perspective to the study of anthropology. Email: emeneses@eastern.edu

JON BIALECKI is a continuing lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California San Diego; he has previously taught at Reed College and the University of Edinburgh. His first monograph, A Diagram for Fire: Miracles and Variation in an American Charismatic Movement, is a study of the miraculous and differentiation in American religion, with a focus on ethics, politics, language, and economic practices; it was awarded the 2017 Sharon Stephens Prize by the American Ethnological Society and Honorable Mention in the 2018 Clifford Geertz Prize by the Society for the Anthropology of Religion. A second book, Machines for Making Gods: Mormonism, Transhumanism, and Worlds Without End (2022), addresses religious transhumanism. He has also published more than 50 peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, and essays and is a series coeditor for Bloomsbury Press's New Directions in the Anthropology of Christianity. Email: jbialecki@ucsd.edu

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Advances in Research

  • Asad, Talal. 1993. Genealogies of Religion: Discipline and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Islam. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Asad, Talal. 2003. Formations of the Secular: Christianity, Islam, Modernity. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

  • Asad, Talal. 2013. “Free Speech, Blasphemy, and Secular Criticism.” In Is Critique Secular? Blasphemy, Injury, and Free Speech, ed. Talal Asad, Wendy Brown, Judith Butler, and Saba Mahmood, 1435. New York: Fordham University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bialecki, Jon. 2014. “Does God Exist in Methodological Atheism? On Tanya Luhrman's When God Talks Back and Bruno Latour.” Anthropology of Consciousness 25 (1): 3252. https://doi.org/10.1111/anoc.12017

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bialecki, Jon. 2017. A Diagram for Fire: Miracles and Variation in an American Charismatic Movement. Berkeley: University of California Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bialecki, Jon. 2018. “Anthropology and Theology in Parallax.” Anthropology of This Century 22. http://aotcpress.com/articles/anthropology-theology-parallax.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bialecki, Jon. 2022. “Harman, a Prophet, a Church, a Name: A Portrait of Four Objects.” In Philosophy on Fieldwork: Case Studies in Anthropological Analysis, ed. Nils Bubandt and Thomas Schwarz Wentzer, 249266. London: Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bialecki, Jon, Naomi Haynes, and Joel Robbins. 2008. “The Anthropology of Christianity.” Religion Compass 2 (6): 11391158. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1749-8171.2008.00116.x

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chakrabarty, Dipesh. 2000. Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Evans-Pritchard, E. E. 1976. Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic among the Azande. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Fountain, Philip. 2013. “Toward a Post-Secular Anthropology.” Australian Journal of Anthropology 24 (3): 310328. https://doi.org/10.1111/taja.12053

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Furani, Khaled. 2019. Redeeming Anthropology: A Theological Critique of a Modern Science. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Holbraad, Martin, Morten Axel Pedersen, and Eduardo Viveiros de Castro. 2014. “The Politics of Ontology: Anthropological Positions.” Society for Cultural Anthropology, 13 January. https://culanth.org/fieldsights/the-politics-of-ontology-anthropological-positions.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Howell, Brian M. 2007. “The Repugnant Cultural Other Speaks Back: Christian Identity as Ethnographic ‘Standpoint’.” Anthropological Theory 7 (4): 371391. https://doi.org/10.1177/1463499607083426

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Howell, Brian M. 2017. “Mystery: To Know and Be Known in Ethnography.” In Meneses and Bronkema 2017: 3353. New York: Routledge.

  • Lambek, Michael. 2012. “Facing Religion, From Anthropology.” Anthropology of This Century May (4). http://aotcpress.com/articles/facing-religion-anthropology.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Larsen, Timothy. 2014. The Slain God: Anthropologists and the Christian Faith. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Latour, Bruno. 1993. We Have Never Been Modern. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

  • Lemons, J. Derrick, ed. 2018. Theologically Engaged Anthropology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Lemons, J. Derrick, Courtney Handman, Jon Bialecki, Naomi Haynes, Maya Mayblin, Timothy Larsen, and Joel Robbins. 2022. “Book Forum on Joel Robbins’ Theology and the Anthropology of and Christian Life.” Anthropology and History 33 (4): 516547. https://doi.org/10.1080/02757206.2022.2119232

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McIvor, Méadhbh. 2020. Representing God: Christian Legal Activism in Contemporary England. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

  • Meneses, Eloise, and David Bronkema, eds. 2017. On Knowing Humanity: Insights from Theology for Anthropology. New York: Routledge.

  • Milbank, John. 2006. Theology and Social Theory: Beyond Secular Reason. Malden, MA Blackwell.

  • Mittermaier, Amira. 2021. “Beyond the Human Horizon.” Religion and Society: Advances in Research 12: 2138. https://doi.org/10.3167/arrs.2021.120103.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Moll, Yasmin. 2023. “Can There Be a Godly Ethnography? Islamic Anthropology, Epistemic Decolonization, and the Ethnographic Stance.” American Anthropologist 125 (4): 746760. https://doi.org/10.1111/aman.13911

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Newbigin, Lesslie. 2011. A Faith for This One World. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock.

  • Polanyi, Michael. 1974. Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-critical Philosophy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  • Robbins, Joel. 2006. “Anthropology and Theology: An Awkward Relationship?Anthropological Quarterly 79 (2): 285294.

  • Robbins, Joel. 2020. Theology and the Christian Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Schielke, Samuli. 2019. “The Power of God: Four Proposals for an Anthropological Engagement.” ZMO Programmatic Texts 13.

  • Sullivan, Winnifred. 2005. The Impossibility of Religious Freedom. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

  • Taylor, Charles. 2007. A Secular Age. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

  • Viveiros de Castro, Eduardo. 2011. “Zeno and the Art of Anthropology: Of Lies, Beliefs, Paradoxes, and Other Truths.” Common Knowledge 17 (1): 128145. https://doi.org/10.1215/0961754X-2010-045

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Viveiros de Castro, Eduardo. 2014. Cannibal Metaphysics. Minneapolis, MN: Univocal Publishing.

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