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A Companion to the Anthropology of Religion

Janice Boddy (Editor), Michael Lambek (Editor)
ISBN: 978-0-470-67332-4
584 pages
October 2013, Wiley-Blackwell
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A Companion to the Anthropology of Religion presents a collection of original, ethnographically-informed essays that explore the variety of beliefs, practices, and religious experiences in the contemporary world and asks how to think about religion as a subject of anthropological inquiry.

  • Presents a collection of original, ethnographically-informed essays exploring the wide variety of beliefs, practices, and religious experiences in the contemporary world
  • Explores a broad range of topics including the ‘perspectivism’ debate, the rise of religious nationalism, reflections on religion and new media, religion and politics, and ideas of self and gender in relation to religious belief
  • Includes examples drawn from different religious traditions and from several regions of the world
  • Features newly-commissioned articles reflecting the most up-to-date research and critical thinking in the field, written by an international team of leading scholars
  • Adds immeasurably to our understanding of the complex relationships between religion, culture, society, and the individual in today’s world
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List of Figures viii

Notes on Contributors ix

Preface and Acknowledgments xiv

What Is “Religion” for Anthropology?

And What Has Anthropology Brought to “Religion”? 1
Michael Lambek

Part I Worlds and Intersections 33

1 Presence, Attachment, Origin: Ontologies of “Incarnates” 35
Philippe Descola

2 The Dynamic Reproduction of Hunter-Gatherers’ Ontologies and Values 50
Sylvie Poirier

3 Cohabiting an Interreligious Milieu: Reflections on Religious Diversity 69
Veena Das

4 Religious and Legal Particularism and Universality 85
Winnifred Fallers Sullivan

Part II Epistemologies 101

5 Are Ancestors Dead? 103
Rita Astuti and Maurice Bloch

6 Coping with Religious Diversity: Incommensurability and Other Perspectives 118
Eva Spies

7 Varieties of Semiotic Ideology in the Interpretation of Religion 137
Michael Lambek

8 Religion and the Truth of Being 154
Paul Stoller

Part III Time and Ethics 169

9 Ethics 171
James Laidlaw

10 The Social and Political Theory of the Soul 189
Heonik Kwon

11 Ghosts and Ancestors in the Modern West 202
Fenella Cannell

12 The Work of Memory: Ritual Laments of the Dead and Korea’s Cheju Massacre 223
Seong-nae Kim

13 The Globalization of Pentecostalism and the Limits of Globalization 239
Girish Daswani

Part IV Practices and Mediations 255

14 Food, Life, and Material Religion in Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity 257
Tom Boylston

15 Trading with God: Islam, Calculation, Excess 274
Amira Mittermaier

16 Ritual Remains: Studying Contemporary Pilgrimage 294
Simon Coleman

17 Mediation and Immediacy: Sensational Forms, Semiotic Ideologies, and the Question of the Medium 309
Birgit Meyer

Part V Languages and Conversions 327

18 Translating God’s Words 329
Wendy James

19 Christianity as a Polemical Concept 344
Pamela E. Klassen

20 Reconfi guring Humanity in Amazonia: Christianity and Change 363
Aparecida Vilaça

21 Language in Christian Conversion 387
William F. Hanks

Part VI Persons and Histories 407

22 Canonizing Soviet Pasts in Contemporary Russia: The Case of Saint Matrona of Moscow 409
Jeanne Kormina

23 Reflections on Death, Religion, Identity, and the Anthropology of Religion 425
Ellen Badone

24 Spirits and Selves Revisited: Zâr and Islam in Northern Sudan 444
Janice Boddy

Part VII Powers 469

25 The Political Landscape of Early State Religions 471
Edward Swenson

26 A Syariah Judiciary as a Global Assemblage: Islamization and Beyond in a Southeast Asian Context 489
Michael G. Peletz

27 The Catholicization of Neoliberalism 507
Andrea Muehlebach

28 The Sacred and the City: Modernity, Religion, and the Urban Form in Central Africa 528
Filip De Boeck

Index 549

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Janice Boddy is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Toronto. Her books include Wombs and Alien Spirits: Women, Men and the Zar Cult in Northern Sudan (1989); Aman: The Story of a Somali Girl (1994); and Civilizing Women: British Crusades in Colonial Sudan (2007).

Michael Lambek is Professor of Anthropology and Canada Research Chair at the University of Toronto Scarborough. His books include Human Spirits (1981, 2009); Knowledge and Practice in Mayotte: Local Discourses of Islam, Sorcery, and Spirit Possession (1993); The Weight of the Past (2002); and Ordinary Ethics (2010). He is also the editor of A Reader in the Anthropology of Religion (Wiley-Blackwell, 2008).

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"Striking a balance between theoretical exploration, state of the art topical synthesis, and vivid case studies, Boddy and Lambek’s remarkable volume proves that the anthropology of religion remains one of the discipline’s most vibrant fields of inquiry." – Stephan Palmié, University of Chicago

“After a period of relative quiescence, the anthropology of religion is once again thriving and playing a central role in some of the most important theoretical and empirical debates in contemporary anthropology.  With a first rate selection of authors both junior and senior, this volume will serve as a solid reference for what has been accomplished so far.  More than that, the wide range and originality of the entries will surely stimulate further developments in the field as well.” – Webb Keane, University of Michigan

“Can we re-invent the anthropology of religion? These essays suggest ways to do so, ranging from perspectivism to morality, and from epistemology to practice, which entice us with innovations and inspirations for new ways to proceed.” – Janet Hoskins, University of Southern California

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