Access

You are not currently logged in.

Access your personal account or get JSTOR access through your library or other institution:

login

Log in to your personal account or through your institution.

Christianity, Anthropology, Politics

Ruth Marshall
Current Anthropology
Vol. 55, No. S10, The Anthropology of Christianity: Unity, Diversity, New Directions ( December 2014), pp. S344-S356
DOI: 10.1086/677737
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/677737
Page Count: 13
Subjects: Anthropology
Find more content in these subjects: Anthropology
  • Download PDF
  • Add to My Lists
  • Cite this Item
We're having trouble loading this content. Download PDF instead.

Abstract

In this article I engage with the conceptual difficulties that studying Christianity poses for anthropology, revisiting and expanding on the critical moves made in the development of the subfield, especially in debates among Robbins, Haynes, Cannell, Garriott, and O’Neill. In particular, I consider the theoretical challenges and the political implications involved in elaborating an adequate concept of Christianity or the Christian. I argue that studying Christianity as a “tradition” implicates the anthropologist in much more than the study of “a religion,” and while Asad’s approach to the study of Islam is methodologically sound, applying it to the case of Christianity involves specific challenges. I use my reading of these methodological and conceptual challenges to critically consider the ways in which anthropology engages with alterity as an epistemological or ethical ground and the political implications of this engagement. Finally, I offer some methodological insights drawn from my study of Pentecostal Christianity that might assist the researcher in studying these specific forms of Christian practice today.

Notes and References

This item contains 124 references.

References Cited
  • ['Abeysekara, A. 2008. The politics of postsecular religion: mourning secular futures. New York: Columbia University Press.']
  • ['Agrama, H. 2012. Questioning secularism: Islam, sovereignty and the rule of law in Egypt. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.']
  • ['Anidjar, G. 2009. The idea of an anthropology of Christianity. Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies 11(3):367–393.']
  • ['———. 2014. Blood: a critique of Christianity. New York: Columbia University Press.']
  • ['Asad, T. 1986. The idea of an anthropology of Islam. Occasional Paper Series. Washington, DC: Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University.']
  • ['———. 2003. Formations of the secular: Christianity, Islam, Modernity. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.']
  • ['———. 2007. On suicide bombing. New York: Columbia University Press.']
  • ['Austin-Broos, D. 1997. Jamaica genesis: religion and the politics of moral orders. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.']
  • ['Badiou, A. 2001. Ethics: an essay on the understanding of evil. London: Verso.']
  • ['Bamford, S., and J. Robbins. 1997. Fieldwork in the era of globalization. Special issue, Anthropology and Humanism 22(1).']
  • ['Bandak, Andreas. 2014. Of refrains and rhythms in contemporary Damascus: urban space and Christian-Muslim coexistence. Current Anthropology 55(suppl. 10):S248–S261.']
  • ['Barber, D. 2011. On diaspora: Christianity, religion and secularity. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock.']
  • ['Barker, John. 2014. The One and the Many: church-centered innovations in a Papua New Guinean community. Current Anthropology 55(suppl. 10):S172–S181.']
  • ['Bastian, Jean-Pierre. 1993. Le Protestantisme en Amérique Latine: une approche socio-historique. Paris: Labor et Fides.']
  • ['Bender, C., and P. Klassen. 2010. After pluralism: reimagining religious engagement. New York: Columbia University Press.']
  • ['Bialecki, J. 2010. Angels and grass: church, revival and the neo-Pauline turn. South Atlantic Quarterly 109(4):695–717.']
  • ['———. 2012. Virtual Christianity in an age of nominalist anthropology. Anthropological Theory 12(3):295–319.']
  • ['Bialecki, J., N. Haynes, and R. Robbins. 2008. The anthropology of Christianity. Religion Compass 2(6):1139–1158.']
  • ['Boyarin, Daniel. 1994. A radical Jew: Paul and the politics of identity. Berkeley: University of California Press.']
  • ['Brouwer, S., P. Gifford, and S. Rose. 1996. Exporting the American gospel: global Christian fundamentalism. London: Routledge.']
  • ['Brown, N. 2004. {∅, $} ∈ {$}? or, Alain Badiou and Slavoj Žižek, waiting for something to happen. CR: New Centennial Review 4(3):289–319.']
  • ['Brown, W. 2006. American nightmare: neoliberalism, neoconservatism and de-democratization. Political Theory 34(6):690–714.']
  • ['-———. 2008. Regulating aversion: tolerance in the age of identity and empire. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.']
  • ['Burdick, John. 1993. Struggling against the devil: Pentecostalism and social movements in urban Brazil. In Rethinking Protestantism in Latin America. David Stoll and Virginia Garrard-Burnett, eds. Pp. 20–44. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.']
  • ['Burgess, R., K. Knibbe, and A. Quaas. 2010. Nigerian-initiated Pentecostal churches as a social force in Europe: the case of the Redeemed Christian Church of God. PentecoStudies 9(3):97–121.']
  • ['Butler, J. 2005. Giving an account of oneself. New York: Fordham University Press.']
  • ['Candea, M., M. Carrithers, K. Sykes, M. Holbraad, and S. Venkatesan. 2010. Ontology is just another word for culture: motion tabled at the 2008 meeting of the Group for Debates in Anthropological Theory, University of Manchester. Critique of Anthropology 30(2):152–200.']
  • ['Cannell, F. 2005. The Christianity of anthropology. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 11:335–356.']
  • ['———, ed. 2006. The anthropology of Christianity. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.']
  • ['Casanova, J. 2001. Religion, the new millennium, and globalization. Sociology of Religion 62:415–441.']
  • ['Chesnut, R. A. 1997. Born again in Brazil: the Pentecostal boom and the pathogens of poverty. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.']
  • ['Cleary, E. L., and H. W. Stewart-Gambino, eds. 1997. Power, politics, and Pentecostals in Latin America. Boulder, CO: Westview.']
  • ['Clifford, J., and G. Marcus, eds. 1986. Writing culture: the poetics and politics of ethnography. Berkeley: University of California Press.']
  • ['Coleman, Simon. 2000. The globalisation of charismatic Christianity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.']
  • ['———. 2002. The faith movement: a global religious culture? Culture and Religion: An Interdisciplinary Journal 3(1):3–19.']
  • ['———. 2006. Studying “global” Pentecostalism: tensions, representations and opportunities. PentecoStudies 5(1):1–17.']
  • ['———. 2010. An anthropological apologetics. South Atlantic Quarterly 109:4.']
  • ['———. 2012. Prosperity unbound? debating the “sacrificial economy.” In The economics of religion: anthropological approaches. L. Obadia and D. Wood, eds. Pp. 23–45. Research in Economic Anthropology, vol. 31. Bingley, UK: Emerald.']
  • ['———. 2014. Pilgrimage as trope for an anthropology of Christianity. Current Anthropology 55(suppl. 10):S281–S291.']
  • ['Comaroff, J. 2009. The politics of conviction: faith on the neo-liberal frontier. Social Analysis 53(1):17–38.']
  • ['Comaroff, J., and J. L. Comaroff. 2002. Second comings: neo-protestant ethics and millennial capitalism in South Africa, and elsewhere. In 2000 years and beyond: faith, identity and the common era. P. Gifford, ed. Pp. 106–126. London: Routledge.']
  • ['———. 2003. Ethnography on an awkward scale: postcolonial anthropology and the violence of abstraction. Ethnography 4(2):147–179.']
  • ['Connolly, W. 2008. Capitalism and Christianity, American style. Raleigh-Durham, NC: Duke University Press.']
  • ['Daswani, G. 2012. Global Pentecostal networks and the problems of culture: the Church of Pentecost in Ghana and abroad. In Global Pentecostal movements: migration, mission, and public religion. Michael Wilkinson, ed. Pp. 71–90. Leiden: Brill.']
  • ['Davis, M. 2004. Planet of slums: urban involution and the informal proletariat. New Left Review 26:5–34.']
  • ['Derrida, J. 1992. On a newly arisen apocalyptic tone in philosophy. In Derrida and negative theology. H. Coward and T. Foshay, eds. Pp. 25–72. Albany: State University of New York Press.']
  • ['———. 2001. “Above all, no journalists!” In Religion and Media. H. de Vries and S. Weber, eds. Pp. 56–93. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.']
  • ['———. 2002. Faith and knowledge: the two sources of “religion” at the limits of reason alone. In Acts of Religion. G. Anidjar, ed. Pp. 40–101. New York: Routledge.']
  • ['———. 2005. On touching, Jean-Luc Nancy. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.']
  • ['de Vries, H., and S. Weber, eds. 2001. Religion and media. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.']
  • ['Douglas, M. 1966. Purity and danger: an analysis of the concepts of pollution and taboo. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.']
  • ['Engelke, M. 2010a. Number and the imagination of global Christianity; or, mediation and immediacy in the work of Alain Badiou. South Atlantic Quarterly 109(4):811–829.']
  • ['———. 2010b. Past Pentecostalism: notes on rupture, realignment, and everyday life in Pentecostal and African independent churches. Africa: Journal of the International African Institute 80(2):177–199.']
  • ['Engelke, M., and J. Robbins, eds. 2010. Global Christianity, global critique. Special issue, South Atlantic Quarterly 109(4).']
  • ['Englund, Harri. 2003. Christian independency and global membership: Pentecostal extraversions in Malawi. Journal of Religion in Africa 33(1):83–111.']
  • ['Ferguson, J., and A. Gupta. 1997. Anthropological locations: boundaries and grounds of a field science. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997.']
  • ['Foucault, M. 2004. Sécurité, territoire, population: cours au Collège de France (1977–78). Paris: Gallimard/Seuil.']
  • ['Freston, Paul. 2001. Evangelicals and politics in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.']
  • ['Gandhi, L. 2011. The pauper’s gift: postcolonial theory and the new democratic dispensation. Public Culture 23(1):27–38.']
  • ['Garriott, W., and K. L. O’Neill. 2008. Who is a Christian? toward a dialogic approach in the anthropology of Christianity. Anthropological Theory 8(4):381–397.']
  • ['Gifford, P. 1987. “Africa shall be saved”: an appraisal of Reinhard Bonnke’s pan-African crusade. Journal of Religion in Africa 17:63–92.']
  • ['———. 1988. The religious right in southern Africa. Harare: University of Zimbabwe Publications.']
  • ['Hackett, R. 1995. The gospel of prosperity in Africa. In Religion and the transformation of capitalism. R. Roberts, ed. London: Routledge.']
  • ['Handman, Courtney. 2014. Becoming the body of Christ: sacrificing the speaking subject in the making of the colonial Lutheran church in New Guinea. Current Anthropology 55(suppl. 10):S205–S215.']
  • ['Hann, Chris. 2007. The anthropology of Christianity per se. Archives Européennes de Sociologie 48(3):391–418.']
  • ['———. 2014. The heart of the matter: Christianity, materiality, and modernity. Current Anthropology 55(suppl. 10):S182–S192.']
  • ['Harding, S. 1991. Representing fundamentalism: the problem of the repugnant cultural other. Social Research 58(2):373–393.']
  • ['———. 2000. The book of Jerry Falwell: fundamentalist language and politics. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.']
  • ['Haynes, N. 2012. Pentecostalism and the morality of money: prosperity, inequality, and religious sociality on the Zambian Copperbelt. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 18(1):124–139.']
  • ['Hirschkind, C. 2006. The ethical soundscape: cassette sermons and Islamic counterpublics. New York: Columbia University Press.']
  • ['Hobbes, T. 1982 (1660). Leviathan. London: Penguin.']
  • ['Hoskins, Janet Alison. 2014. An unjealous God? Christian elements in a Vietnamese syncretistic religion. Current Anthropology 55(suppl. 10):S302–S311.']
  • ['Humphrey, Caroline. 2014. Schism, event, and revolution: the Old Believers of Trans-Baikalia. Current Anthropology 55(suppl. 10):S216–S225.']
  • ['Huntington, S. 1996. The clash of civilizations and the remaking of world order. New York: Simon & Schuster.']
  • ['Jenkins, P. 2002. The next Christendom: the coming of global Christianity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.']
  • ['———. 2006. The new faces of Christianity: believing the Bible in the global south New York: Oxford University Press.']
  • ['Kalu, Ogbu U. 2010. Religions in Africa: conflicts, politics and social ethics. Wilhelmina J. Kalu, Nimi Wariboko, and Toyin Falola, eds. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press.']
  • ['Klassen, P. 2011. Spirits of Protestantism: medicine, healing, and liberal Christianity. Berkeley: University of California Press.']
  • ['Knibbe, K., and P. Versteeg. 2008. Assessing phenomenology in anthropology: lessons from the study of religion and experience. Critique of Anthropology 28(1):47–62.']
  • ['Larkin, B. 2008. Signal and noise: media, infrastructure and urban culture in Nigeria. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.']
  • ['Larkin, B., and B. Meyer. 2006. Pentecostalism, Islam and culture: new religious movements in West Africa. In Themes in West African history. E. Akyeampong, ed. Pp. 286–312. Oxford: Currey.']
  • ['Mahmood, Saba. 2005. The politics of piety: the Islamic revival and the feminist subject. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.']
  • ['Mandair, A.-P. S. 2009. Religion and the spectre of the West: Sikhism, India, postcoloniality and the politics of translation. New York: Columbia University Press.']
  • ['Marshall, R. 2009. Political spiritualities: the Pentecostal revolution in Nigeria. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.']
  • ['———. 2010. The sovereignty of miracles: Pentecostal political theology in Nigeria. Constellations 17(2):197–223.']
  • ['———. 2011. Global Christianity, global critique: falling on the sword of the spirit. Immanent Frame. http://blogs.ssrc.org/tif/2011/02/28/falling-on-the-sword-of-the-spirit/.']
  • ['Martin, D. 2001. Pentecostalism: the world their parish. Oxford: Blackwell.']
  • ['Mas, R. 2011. On the apocalyptic tones of Islam in secular time. In Secularism and religion making. Arvind Mandair and Markus Dressler, eds. Pp. 87–103. Oxford: Oxford University Press.']
  • ['———. Forthcoming. Crisis and the secular rhetoric of Islamic paradise. In Roads to paradise: concepts of eschatology in the hereafter in Islam. Sebastian Guenther and Todd Lawson, eds. Leiden: Brill Academic.']
  • ['Masuzawa, T. 2005. The invention of world religions; or, how European universalism was preserved in the language of pluralism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005.']
  • ['Mayblin, Maya. 2014. People like us: intimacy, distance, and the gender of saints. Current Anthropology 55(suppl. 10):S271–S280.']
  • ['Meyer, B. 1998. “Make a complete break with the past”: memory and postcolonial modernity in Ghanaian Pentecostal discourse. In Memory and the postcolony: African anthropology and the critique of power. R. Werbner, ed. Pp. 182–208. London: Zed.']
  • ['———. 2006. Impossible representations: Pentecostalism, vision and video technology in Ghana. In Media, religion and the public sphere. B. Meyer and A. Moors, eds. Pp. 290–312. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.']
  • ['———. 2010. Aesthetics of persuasion: global Christianity and Pentecostalism’s sensational forms. South Atlantic Quarterly 109(4):741–763.']
  • ['Meyer, B., and A. Moors, eds. 2006. Media, religion and the public sphere. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.']
  • ['Nancy, J.-L. 2008. Dis-enclosure: the deconstruction of Christianity. New York: Fordham University Press.']
  • ['Ngada, N. 1985. Speaking for ourselves. Braamfontein, South Africa: Institute of Contextual Theology.']
  • ['Norton, Anne. 2011. Pentecost: democratic sovereignty in Carl Schmitt. Constellations 18(3):389–402.']
  • ['O’Neill, K. 2009. City of God: Christian citizenship in postwar Guatemala. San Diego: University of California Press.']
  • ['———. 2012. The soul of security: corporatism, Christianity, and control in postwar Guatemala. Social Text 32(2):21–42.']
  • ['Pandian, Anand. 2012. The time of anthropology: notes from a field of contemporary experience. Cultural Anthropology 27(4):547–571.']
  • ['Rancière, J. 1995. La mésentente Paris: Galilée.']
  • ['———. 1997. Democracy means equality: interview. Radical Philosophy 82(1):29–35.']
  • ['Robbins, J. 2003a. On the paradoxes of global Pentecostalism and the perils of continuity thinking. Religion 33(3):221–231.']
  • ['———. 2003b. What is a Christian? notes toward an anthropology of Christianity. Religion 33(3):191–199.']
  • ['-———. 2004a. Becoming sinners: Christianity and moral torment in a Papua New Guinea Society. Berkeley: University of California Press.']
  • ['———. 2004b. The globalization of Pentecostal and charismatic Christianity. Annual Review of Anthropology 33:117–143.']
  • ['———. 2006. Anthropology and theology: an awkward relationship? Anthropological Quarterly 79(2):285–294.']
  • ['———. 2007. Continuity thinking and the problem of Christian culture: belief, time and the anthropology of Christianity. Current Anthropology 48(1):5–38.']
  • ['———. 2009. Pentecostal networks and the spirit of globalization: on the social productivity of ritual forms. Social Analysis 53(1):55–66.']
  • ['———. 2010. Anthropology, Pentecostalism, and the new Paul: conversion, event, and social transformation. South Atlantic Quarterly 109(4):633–652.']
  • ['Roy, O. 2006. Globalized Islam: the search for a new Ummah. New York: Columbia University Press.']
  • ['Schmitt, C. 2005. Political theology: four chapters on the concept of sovereignty. G. Schwab, trans. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.']
  • ['Smith, J. K. A. 2010. “The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets”: global Pentecostalism and the re-enchantment of Critique. South Atlantic Quarterly 109(4):677–669.']
  • ['Spivak, G. 1987. In other worlds: essays in cultural politics. London: Routledge.']
  • ['Spivak, G., S. Danius, and S. Jonsson. 1993. An interview with Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Boundary 2 20(1):24–50.']
  • ['Steigenga, T. J. 2001. The politics of the spirit: the political implications of Pentecostalized religion in Costa Rica and Guatemala. Lanham, MD: Lexington.']
  • ['Stoll, D. 1990. Is Latin America turning protestant? the politics of evangelical growth. Berkeley: University of California Press.']
  • ['Taubes, J. 2003. The political theology of Paul. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.']
  • ['Tonda, J. 2002. La guérison divine en Afrique centrale (Congo, Gabon). Paris: Karthala.']
  • ['Vilaça, Aparecida. 2014. Culture and self: the different “gifts” Amerindians receive from Catholics and Evangelicals. Current Anthropology 55(suppl. 10):S322–S332.']
  • ['Viveiros de Castro, E. 2003. AND: after-dinner speech given at Anthropology and Science, the 5th Decennial Conference of the Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK and Commonwealth, 2003. Manchester Papers in Social Anthropology, no. 7. Manchester: Department of Social Anthropology, University of Manchester.']
  • ['Wariboko, N. 2011. The Pentecostal principle: ethical methodology in the new spirit. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.']
  • ['Zizek, S. 2010. Living in the end times. London: Verso.']