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Contemporary Religiosities

Contemporary Religiosities: Emergent Socialities and the Post-Nation-State

Bruce Kapferer
Kari Telle
Annelin Eriksen
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 220
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  • Book Info
    Contemporary Religiosities
    Book Description:

    The last decade has seen an unexpected return of the religious, and with it the creation of new kinds of social forms alongside new fusions of political and religious realms that high modernity kept distinct. For a fuller understanding of what this means for society in the context of globalization, it is necessary to rethink the relationship between the religious and the secular; the contributors - all leading scholars in anthropology - do just that, some even arguing that secularization itself now takes a religious form. Combining theoretical reflection with vivid ethnographic explorations, this essential collection is designed to advance a critical understanding of social and personal religious experience in today's world.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-534-5
    Subjects: Anthropology, Political Science, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction: Religiosities toward a Future—in Pursuit of the New Millennium
    (pp. 1-16)
    Bruce Kapferer, Kari Telle and Annelin Eriksen

    Benedict Anderson once commented that nationalism was the modernist political movement that appeared to have had the most resilience contrasted with other political ideological movements of the time. Anderson ([1983] 1991) was writing when the nation-state, whose imaginary of community and shared history and identity constitutes a transcendent ideal, was in the ascendant. Encouraging and/or inventing such a nationalist consciousness, the agents of state power often strove to create and to legitimate the social order of the state within the terms of a nationalist consciousness, augmenting their authority and potency accordingly. In many instances, the agents and the agencies of...

  4. Chapter 1 The Politics of Conviction: Faith on the Neo-liberal Frontier
    (pp. 17-38)
    Jean Comaroff

    The sacred, it seems, is becoming ever more prominent in profane places. Like the message beside a highway to Sun City, northwest of Johannesburg, reading “Jesus is the answer” in large, uneven letters, or the image of the Virgin Mary that revealed itself to construction workers in Chicago on a damp afternoon in April 2005.¹ The workers had been repairing a concrete underpass on the Kennedy Expressway, one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares.² Fanned by avid television reportage from across the country, the news spread, and soon hundreds of people had gathered, wreathing the image with flowers and votive candles....

  5. Chapter 2 Strategic Secularism: Bible Advocacy in England
    (pp. 39-54)
    Matthew Engelke

    In late September 2003, the Bible Society of England and Wales posted images of guns and flowers on billboards and bus stop shelters around Nottingham.¹ There was nothing else on these posters: just guns and flowers. A week later, the posters were rehung with more information. Alongside the image of the gun ran some text: “Is Lisa right to seek revenge on Phil Mitchell? Text yes or no to 82100.” Below the gun was the logo of the Bible Society, although without the accompanying text to identify it as such. Alongside the flowers, tagged with the same logo, the text...

  6. Chapter 3 Pentecostal Networks and the Spirit of Globalization: On the Social Productivity of Ritual Forms
    (pp. 55-66)
    Joel Robbins

    The neo-liberal global order has proven to be a harsh environment for a wide range of social, economic, and political institutions. Many of those local and more globally diffused institutions that once in various ways buffered people from the depredations of the market economy have been so starved for human and material resources in the current climate that they have retreated or simply disappeared. In the face of the ‘institutional deficit’ that has resulted, people have had fewer and fewer ways to sustain spaces in which social relations can be organized by non-market logics to meet non-market goals (Martin 1998:...

  7. Chapter 4 Healing the Nation: In Search of Unity through the Holy Spirit in Vanuatu
    (pp. 67-81)
    Annelin Eriksen

    Pentecostal Christianity, characterized by the belief in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as prophesying and the ability to speak in tongues and heal (Robbins 2004b: 117), is, as several have noted (see, e.g., ibid.), among the fastest growing global movements, with more than 250 million adherents. Consequently, we have seen a great growth in the literature on these movements (e.g., Engelke 2007; Martin 2002; Meyer 2004) and also in Melanesian anthropology (e.g., Jebens 2005; Robbins 2004a; Stewart and Strathern 2000a). Jorgensen (2005), writing about a new wave of Pentecostal enthusiasm in New Guinea, argues that understanding Pentecostal Christianity...

  8. Chapter 5 What Happened to Cargo Cults? Material Religions in Melanesia and the West
    (pp. 82-102)
    Ton Otto

    Cargo cults were once at the forefront of the anthropological imagination. They no longer are. Although a continual stream of books and articles are published on the subject, it no longer kindles the same intense intellectual debate as it once did. What happened to cargo cults? In this chapter I will discuss theoretical analyses of old and new cults, some of which suggest that the term should be abolished, or at least avoided. The history of anthropology teaches us that it is very hard, if not impossible, to obliterate an analytical term once it has been well established in the...

  9. Chapter 6 Gold for a Golden Age: Sacred Money and Islamic Freedom in a Global Sufi Order
    (pp. 103-122)
    Nils Bubandt

    This chapter is the outline of an argument that takes issue with the above depiction of contemporary Western rebellion. The case upon which this argument builds is the Murabitun movement, a relatively small but global group of converts to Sufi Islam. The Murabitun movement is a Sufi order with established communities in 21 countries throughout the world. It is a proselytizing, orda’wa, order that consists of converts to Islam from the countries in which it settles, and it is led mainly by European converts. The head of the order is Abdal-Qadir-as-Sufi, a Scotsman who converted in the late 1960s...

  10. Chapter 7 Sri Lankan Civil Society and Its Fanatics
    (pp. 123-140)
    Rohan Bastin

    Contemporary Buddhist militancy or fanaticism in Sri Lanka reacts against Christian evangelism and Tamil separatism as it articulates with broader global discourses concerning so-called civil society. It thus reveals features of the relationship between complicity and resistance in the formation and re-formation of current global singularities. The idea of global singularity will be discussed below, but first I will expand on fanaticism and its connection to civil society. I derive the idea from Dominique Colas (1997), who argues that European history is marked by moments of fanatical iconoclasm—the smashing or destruction of ideal representations of the seemingly ‘natural’ order...

  11. Chapter 8 Dharma Power: Searching for Security in Post–New Order Indonesia
    (pp. 141-156)
    Kari Telle

    Enormously seductive, the metaphysical discourse of security is inherently paradoxical. Anthony Burke argues in “Aporias of Security” (2002: 20) that the “promise” of security “breaks down when we consider that, because ‘security’ is bound into a dependent relation with ‘insecurity’, it can never escape it: it must continue to produce images of ‘insecurity’ in order to retain its meaning.” From this perspective, it is analytically futile to attempt to stabilize security’s ontology.¹ Instead, Burke identifies “an urgent need to interrogate the images of self and other that animate (in)secure identities, and to expose the violence and suppression that is so...

  12. Chapter 9 An Ancient Case of Interrogation and Torture
    (pp. 157-172)
    Bruce Lincoln

    Occasionally, past and present can be made to collide so that old, obscure events modify our understanding of contemporary circumstances, and vice versa. The extreme case is that which Walter Benjamin described in his much-cited sixth thesis “On the Concept of History”: “Articulating the past historically does not mean recognizing itthe way it really was. It means appropriating a memory as it flashes up in a moment of danger” (Benjamin [1940] 2003: 391; emphasis in original). With this in mind, I want to begin by narrating an incident from ancient Persia: a struggle for imperial succession in the Achaemenian...

  13. Chapter 10 The Terrorist as Humanitarian
    (pp. 173-192)
    Faisal Devji

    On the fifth anniversary of 9/11, a jihadist Web site posted a long interview with Osama bin Laden’s lieutenant, Ayman al-Zawahiri, in which he described Muslim militancy as offering an opportunity for all the world’s oppressed, whether or not they converted to Islam:

    Interviewer:Speaking of the plunder of resources, grievances, and the oppressed ones in the world, in recent statements by Al-Qa’ida of Jihad calls for supporting the oppressed in the world have been repeated. Is this a new Al-Qa’ida approach?

    Al-Zawahiri:No, this is a confirmed jurisprudence-based law. God, the exalted, said in [a] Hadith Qudsi: “O my...

  14. Chapter 11 Reflections on the Rise of Legal Theology: Law and Religion in the Twenty-First Century
    (pp. 193-216)
    John L. Comaroff

    Looking ahead toward the third millennium,Jubilaeum A.D. 2000, an organ of the Vatican, carried an essay by Giuseppe Dalla Torre (1998), a leading Catholic intellectual. Entitled “A Strong Moral Conscience for a Culture of Legality,”¹ it was an extended reflection, from a theological perspective, on the law—specifically, on its growing hegemony. Dalla Torre’s argument need not detain us here: he makes a rather conventional case for justice over the jural, for collective duty over individual rights, for the recognition of social responsibility. Noteworthy, however, was what he had to say about the views of the papacy on jurisprudence,...

  15. Index
    (pp. 217-222)