Probasco, “Prayer, Patronage, and Personal Agency in Nicaraguan Accounts of Receiving International Aid”

Probasco, LiErin. 2016. Prayer, Patronage, and Personal Agency in Nicaraguan Accounts of Receiving International Aid. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion Doi: 10.1111/jssr.12263

Abstract:This article examines how religious beliefs and practices influence the reception of international relief and development aid in impoverished communities. Specifically, I explain how Nicaraguan recipients’ prayers both enhance and constrain their ability to assert themselves as “empowered” actors during aid interactions. Data come from observations and interviews over a two-year period with 81 Nicaraguans in communities that receive aid from Christian development organizations. Compared to secular constructions of aid interactions, prayers provide space for Nicaraguans to position themselves as influential actors effecting change for themselves or their families. Through prayers, recipients portray themselves as influencing the actions of more powerful parties, including God and potential donors. They also pray for donors’ well-being, thereby offering spiritual reciprocity for material gifts. However, the same prayers that empower individuals at the interpersonal level constrain their ability to envision transformation of social structures. These findings shape understandings of prayer as aligning actions, of the moral and social dimensions of receiving care from strangers, and of the complex and contradictory ways religious practices influence discourses of empowerment and development.

Chua, “Gifting, Dam(n)ing and the Ambiguation of Development in Malaysian Borneo”

Chua, Liana. 2016. Gifting, Dam(n)ing and the Ambiguation of Development in Malaysian Borneo. Ethnos 81(4):737-757.

Abstract: This article seeks to move beyond the critical politicizing impulse that has characterized anthropologies of development since the 1990s towards a more open-ended commitment to taking seriously the diverse moral and imaginative topographies of development. It explores how members of four small Bidayuh villages affected by a dam-construction and resettlement scheme in Sarawak draw on both historically inflected tropes of gifting and Christian moral understandings in their engagements with Malaysia’s peculiar brand of state-led development. These enable the affected villagers not to resolve the problems posed by Malaysian developmentalism, but to ambiguate them and actually hold resolution at bay. I conclude by considering the implications of such projects of ambiguation for the contemporary anthropology of development.

Auvinen-Pöntinen and Jørgensen (eds), “Mission and Money”

Auvinen- Pöntinen, Mari-Anna and Jonas Adelin Jørgensen, eds.  2016.  Mission and Money: Christian Mission in the Context of Global Inequalities.  Leiden: Brill.

Publisher’s Description: Mission and Money; Christian Mission in the Context of Global Inequalities offers academic discussion about the mission of the Church in the context of contemporary economic inequalities globally, challenging the reader to reconsider mission in the light of existing poverty, and investigating how economic structures could be challenged in the light of ethical and spiritual considerations. The book includes contributions on the subjects of poverty and inequality from the theologians, economists and anthropologists who gave keynote presentations at the European Missiological Conference (IAMS Europe) that took place in April 2014 in Helsinki, Finland. This conference was a major step forward in terms of discussion between missiologists and economists on global economic structures and their influence on human dignity.

Contents:

Introduction – Jonas Adelin Jørgensen and Mari-Anna Auvinen-Pöntinen
Introducing Authors

Part I
A Challenge of Theological-Missiological Reflection on Money and Mobility in the Globalizing World – Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen

Part II
Ethics and Global Economics – Vesa Kanniainen
Asian Perspectives on Global Economic Inequality – Felix Wilfred
Christian Mission in a World under the Grip of an Unholy Trinity: Inequality, Poverty and Unemployment – Tinyiko Sam Maluleke
Poverty and Power: African Challenges to Christian Mission – Gerrie ter Haar
The Mission of the Church amidst European Social and Economic Crisis: The Case of Greece – Evi Voulgaraki-Pissina
Interreligious Liberation Theologies, Money and Just Relations – Ulrich Duchrow
Economic Development and Christian Mission: A Perspective from History of Mission – Jonathan J. Bonk

Part III
Mission and Money in Two Recent Mission Documents: The WCC’s Together towards Life and Pope Francis’s Evangelii Gaudium – Stephen Bevans
Mission and Money—Mapping the Field – Mika Vähäkangas

Cox, “Israeli Technicians and the Post-Colonial Racial Triangle”

Cox, John.  2015. Israeli Technicians and the Post-Colonial Racial Triangle in Papua New Guinea.  Oceania.  Early online publication.

Abstract: Papua New Guinean imaginings of Israel as a potential development partner draw on Christian renderings of the Bible, but they also reflect an understanding of Israel as a modern, technologically advanced nation. As middle-class Papua New Guineans reflect on the failures of national development since gaining independence from Australia, they express ambivalence about the appropriateness of Western models of development for the Papua New Guinean context. However, the influx of Asian investment is also seen as lacking, or even threatening; therefore, Asian models of development also fail to offer an appealing hope for the future. In this paper, I argue that these racialised understandings of modernity represent a ‘post-colonial racial triangle’, a discursive field within which the moral implications of development are understood and debated. Within this triangle, Melanesians are thought to have ‘culture’ and (Christian) ‘morality’ but lack ‘development’. Australians or ‘whitemen’ are thought to have ‘development’ and ‘morality’ but to lack ‘culture’. ‘Asians’ are thought to have ‘development’ and ‘culture’ but to lack (Christian) morality. Taking this moral framing of race into account, Israel emerges as a possible aid donor with the credentials to reconcile these three positions as it is seen to be the possessor of ‘development’, ‘culture’, and ‘morality’.

Having People, Having Heart: Book Review

Scherz, China. 2014. Having People, Having Heart: Charity, Sustainable Development, and Problems of Dependence in Central Uganda. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

By: Andrea Grant (University of Cambridge)

During my fieldwork in Rwanda, I was asked to write a “needs assessment” report for a centre for disabled youth outside of Kigali run by Catholic nuns. I was asked by a friend, a prosperous Rwandan woman in her 40s, who was a member of the centre’s volunteer board, made up of other Rwandan women who wanted to help the centre “morally and materially”. The centre was woefully underfunded and understaffed, and my friend felt that the report might help secure funding in the future. Although my research was focused on the new post-genocide Pentecostal churches, I agreed, thinking the centre might provide an interesting point of comparison. Over the course of several months, I made a number of trips to the centre, interviewing some of the sisters who ran it and some of the disabled youth. Even in my brief engagement with the centre, I was impressed by the sisters’ devotion to the residents, and their ability to provide so much care – and, indeed, what seemed to me to even be love – with such limited means. I couldn’t help but contrast this everyday engagement with the “drop in” visits Pentecostals made to orphanages or widows’ groups as part of their “outreach activities”. (Although these visits, it should be pointed out, were often accompanied by gifts and the sharing of food.) Entirely different understandings of community – of who was and was not included within it; of the kinds of persons and the kinds of relations that made it up – seemed to be at work.

It was with great interest, then, that I read China Scherz’s Having People, Having Heart: Charity, Sustainable Development, and Problems of Dependence in Central Uganda. Scherz in many ways tackles these issues head-on, although her focus is more pointedly on development. She compares “secular” discourses of sustainable development with Catholic understandings of charity, and explores how they converge with and diverge from local Kiganda notions of personhood and exchange. The book, she writes, is about “understanding the ways these different ethicomoral assemblages – or the heterogeneous ways people understand and orient themselves toward something we might imperfectly call ‘the good’ or ‘the right’ – come together in collision, collaboration, coexistence and compromise” (7).

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Haustein, et al. “Roundtable – Pentecostalism and Development Practice”

Haustein, Jörg, Carole Rakodi, Daniel Akhazemea, Mike Battcock, Rick James, Claudia Währisch-Oblau. Roundtable – Pentecostalism and Development Practice.  PentecoStudies 14(2): 241-260.

Abstract: This article revisits central questions arising from Pentecostal actors’ development practices. These were raised during the final panel discussion of the 2014 GloPent conference on “Pentecostalism and Development”. The four panel participants, all development actors from various organisational and religious backgrounds, considered whether Pentecostal approaches to development work are distinctive, as well as identifying various benefits that can be gained from the engagement of Pentecostal churches in development and some challenges that arise during collaboration between development actors and Pentecostal churches. The discussion was conducted through two rounds of statements by the panel participants, complemented by editorial comments and reflections. It concludes that neither the Pentecostal approach to development nor Pentecostal churches’ links with development actors are necessarily distinctive. However, more exchanges are needed between Pentecostal organisations and their members, development practitioners working with Pentecostal churches and scholars of the Pentecostal movement to improve development work among Pentecostals, links between Pentecostals and other development actors and scholarly awareness of the most salient issues.

Deacon, “Kenya: A Nation Born Again”

Deacon, Gregory.  2015.  Kenya: A Nation Born Again.  PentecoStudies 14(2): 219-240.

Abstract: In much of the work on Pentecostalism and development to date, Pentecostals have been considered as individual, adult converts adopting new (in contrast to traditional) socioeconomic approaches. These are seen by some authors as having transformative results for personal wellbeing and economic success as they are no longer subject to the restrictions of state, nation and society; others present opposite conclusions. As an alternative point of departure, this article considers that Charismatic, Pentecostal Christianity has been of great importance in the creation and evolution of Kenya as a state and nation. This understanding is used to illuminate the themes that dominated the country’s general election of 2013 and its developmental ramifications. It is suggested that exploring Pentecostalism at the level of nation and state, whilst continuing to allow for the importance of conceptions of personal responsibility, offers an additional and complimentary approach for exploring Pentecostalism and development.

Drønen, “Material Development and Spiritual Empowerment?”

Drønen, Tomas Sundnes.  2015. Material Development and Spiritual Empowerment?  Pentecostalism in Northern Cameroon.  PentecoStudies 14(2): 205-218.

Abstract: This article seeks to shed light on the relationship between material development and spiritual empowerment among Pentecostal churches in Northern Cameroon. Field studies show that several Pentecostal churches recently have been established in the area, and that they are “negotiating space” in order to find places and areas where they can influence the local community. Due to the strong Muslim control over the economy in the region, the new churches have little focus on prosperity, but the material and developmental discourse focus on entrepreneurship through education and hard work. The article concludes that the relative success achieved by the churches is connected to their focus on global mobility, local flexibility, spiritual authority and human dignity.

Burgess, “Pentecostals and Development in Nigeria and Zambia”

Burgess, Richard H.  2015. Pentecostals and Development in Nigeria and Zambia: Community Organizing as a Response to Poverty and Violence.  PentecoStudies 14(2): 176-204.

Abstract:

Faith-based community organising is becoming increasingly recognized as an effective form of democratic engagement and community development, especially among low-to-middle income urban communities in the United States and Britain. This article focuses on two African Pentecostal initiatives with no formal links to Western community organising networks: the Young Ambassadors for Community Peace and Inter-Faith Foundation in Nigeria and the Jubilee Centre in Zambia. In both countries, neoliberal economics, associated with diminished public sectors and decreased government interventionism, has taken its toll, resulting in increased levels of unemployment, poverty and violent conflict. In response, these initiatives are engaged in citizen mobilization through training church and community leaders, and empowering ordinary people to improve the quality of life in their communities. While faith-based community organising is relatively rare in Nigeria and Zambia, the case studies discussed in this article show the potential of this form of intervention for generating social capital and addressing the dual crises of poverty and violence that assail the African continent. The article assesses the added value of Pentecostal beliefs and practices in relation to civic engagement and development.

Clarke, “Friend or Foe?”

Clarke, Matthew.  2015. Friend or Foe? Finding Common Ground between Development and Pentecostalism.  PentecoStudies 14(2): 156-175.

Abstract: Religious belief is a common human characteristic with 80 percent of the world’s population professing some religious affiliation. Indeed, global surveys report an increase in ‘religiosity’ across the globe in recent decades. Within Christianity, Pentecostalism has experienced considerable growth in contrast with the more traditional Christian churches. This growth is occurring across the globe, but is extremely evident within developing countries. Within development studies (both the theory and practice), religion has been negatively portrayed, misunderstood, or set aside as not being of importance to development outcomes. Such an approach towards religion is misguided and limits development effectiveness. While religion is certainly not the ‘answer’ to eradicating poverty or overcoming global injustices, authentic engagement by development actors with religion does provide important opportunities to enhance development outcomes. This paper will consider the basic tenets of development theory and practice and contrast those against Pentecostal theological teaching in order to determine where there exists common ground and where there exists misalignment of values and thus tension. Such assessment is important in order to enhance the religious literacy of the development sector to better understand how to authentically engage with communities expressing this belief.