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.

Jacobs, “‘Giving God his due?'”

Jacobs, Evan Carl Edward.  2015. “Giving God his due?” Understanding tithing and its function within the Seventh-Day Adventist Church.  Anthropology Southern Africa. Early online publication.

Abstract: This paper focuses on the practice of tithing as an extraordinary form of religious giving. Tithing involves habitually giving ten percent of one’s income to the church, and since this is such a significant portion of a person’s income, its giving should reflect that significance. The paper seeks to understand why people tithe, and whether they expect anything in return from the community to which they tithe. In an attempt to find answers, attention is placed on members of the South African division of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, as this denomination has exhibited an upward trend in tithe-giving behaviour over the last decade. The information gathered through participant-observation is analysed by placing it within an anthropological discourse of gift-exchange. Through this lens, the paper argues that tithing functions to produce group solidarity by maintaining the relationships between clergy, laity and their deity.

Haynes, “On the Potential and Problems of Pentecostal Exchange”

Hanyes, Naomi. 2013. “On the Potential and Problems of Pentecostal Exchange.” American Anthropologist 115(1):85-95.

Abstract: In this article, I draw on ethnography from the Zambian Copperbelt to examine the social productivity of the Pentecostal prosperity gospel, a Christian movement centered on the idea that it is God’s will for believers to be wealthy. In the light of the challenges that recent economic history has posed to Copperbelt relational life, Pentecostalism has become an important source of hierarchy—and, therefore, of social organization. This social productivity is evident in the complex patterns of exchange that emerge as believers make gifts to God and religious leaders. An analysis of Pentecostal exchange reveals that the hierarchical relationships forged through religious adherence are often in danger of being undermined by economic concerns, and prosperity gospel practice is therefore continually mobilized to protect these ties. In this discussion, I foreground the position of Pentecostalism among the repertoire of ideas, practices, and beliefs involved in negotiating social life in times of economic uncertainty.

Kaell, “Of gifts and grandchildren: American Holy Land souvenirs”

Kaell, Hillary (2012) “Of gifts and grandchildren: American Holy Land souvenirs.” Journal of Material Culture. 17(2):133–151

Abstract: Despite significant scholarship in anthropology and tourism studies related respectively to gifts and souvenirs, little is known about why and to whom people give souvenir gifts. Using an American case study, this article shows how Holy Land pilgrimage and its attendant gift-giving are a crucial way that older women navigate tensions specific to the consumer culture and religious patterns of the 21st-century US. By giving souvenirs, pilgrims uphold the importance of individuality (as consumers and as believers), while also fulfilling what they believe is their special responsibility to bolster collective faith, particularly amongst networks of female friends and family. Crucial in this endeavor is how pilgrims negotiate the fluid line between commodity and religious object. Sometimes they imbue these commercial objects with divine presence, thereby creating powerful tools for asserting ‘soft’ authority at home. At other times, they present religious souvenirs as commodities, downplaying their spiritual value in order to circumvent rejection.

Tomlinson, “Passports to Eternity: Whales’ Teeth and Transcendence in Fijian Methodism”

Tomlinson, Matt (2012) “Passports to Eternity: Whales’ Teeth and Transcendence in Fijian Methodism,” in Lenore Manderson, Wendy Smith, & Matt Tomlinson (eds) Flows of Faith: Religious Reach and Community in Asia and the Pacific (Springer, New York).

Abstract: Christianity is often considered a religion of transcendence, in which divinity “goes beyond” human space and time. Recent anthropological scholarship has noted, however, that claims to transcendence must be expressed materially. This chapter examines the ways in which Fijian Methodists attempt to achieve a kind of Christian transcendence in which they escape negative influences of the vanua (land, chiefdoms, and the “traditional” order generally). They do so by offering sperm whales’ teeth to church authorities in order to apologise and atone for the sins of ancestors. Such rituals do not achieve the transcendence they aim for, however, as the whales’ teeth–the material tokens offered to gain divine favour–gain their ritual value precisely because of their attachment to the vanua.

Dullo, “Uma pedagogia da exemplaridade: a dádiva cristã como gratuidade” [A pedagogy of the exemplarity: the christian gift as gratuity]

Dullo, Eduardo (2011) “Uma pedagogia da exemplaridade: a dádiva cristã como gratuidade” Religião & Sociedad 31(2)


Durante pesquisa de campo, observei diversas atitudes de ‘ajuda’. O presente artigo é uma descrição dessas relações sob a ótica da interação de dois coletivos de agentes: os católicos que presidem o Centro Social Marista e os jovens atendidos por esse Centro. A partir das ‘ajudas’ e da decorrente alteração de status advinda da consideração de uma bem sucedida ‘inclusão social’, analiso a produção de indivíduos exemplares, de cuja pedagogia traço a face ritual. Tais indivíduos estabelecem com outros jovens uma relação de exemplaridade que, por sua vez, e fechando o circuito, é central para a concretização do sistema de trocas baseadas na gratuidade e para a tentativa de consolidação de uma comunidade moral de semelhantes.

ABSTRACT During the fieldwork, I observed several attitudes of ‘help’. This text is a description of this relations from the point of view of two collectives of agents that interact in a daily routine: the Catholics that manage the Centro Social Marista and the young persons assisted by them. Beginning with the ‘helps’ and the change of statuses they receive when acknowledged as well succeeded in the ‘social inclusion’, I analyze the production of the exemplar individual, by tracing the ritual face of the pedagogy that made them. Those individuals establish a relationship of exemplarity with other young persons that makes a whole system of changes based in the gratuity be effective and that are central to close the circuit and try to consolidate a moral community of similars.