Bandak, “Repeated Prayers”

Bandak, Andreas.  2016. Repeated prayers: saying the rosary in contemporary Syria.  Religion.  Early online publication.

Abstract: Mauss’ seminal doctoral thesis, On Prayer [1909], captured the social character of prayer, but he sidelined the rosary as a merely mechanical prayer of repetition. This article also finds repetition at play in the rosary, as it is performed in the shrine of Our Lady of Soufanieh, Damascus, in pre-2011 Syria. However, it argues that repetition need not be conceptualised as dulling and inhibiting for the devotee. Rather, repetition can be seen like a heartbeat: something alive and pulsating. The repetition of the prayers among the followers is seen as unforced, a voluntary response to a grace already bestowed upon them by the Virgin Mary and Christ. Prayers are a response to this grace and, in this sense, repetition is to be understood as re-petition. This re-petition is seen as modelling the individual in the image of the Virgin Mary and, by this, exemplifying the saintly character of the devout.

Sturm and Frantzman, “Religious Geopolitics of Palestinian Christianity”

Sturm, Tristan and Seth Frantzman.  2014. Religious Geopolitics of Palestinian Christianity: Palestinian Christian Zionists, Palestinian Liberation Theologists, and American Missions to Palestine.  Middle Eastern Studies.  Early online publication.

Abstract: The introduction of Protestantism into the Middle East by American missionaries in the nineteenth century met with limited success while the responses and internalizations of local converts proved incredibly diverse. The two resultant theological descendants are Palestinian Christian Zionists and Palestinian Liberation Theologists. The article provides a short history of these two movements and highlights influential voices through interviews and media analysis. This article argues that hybrid religious identifications with nation and place has transcended, in some cases, political struggle for territory.

Bandak, “Reckoning with the Inevitable”

Bandak, Andreas.  2014. Reckoning with the Inevitable: Death and Dying among Syrian Christians during the Uprising.  Ethnos (Early Online Publication).

Abstract: Since 15 March 2011, Syria has seen a humanitarian crisis escalate and we are now witnessing outright civil war in many parts of the country. From a relatively peaceful start, the whole affair has turned ugly. Bombs are exploding not just in remote parts of Syria but in its largest cities. Death and dying has now become a salient feature of Syrian life, both inside and outside its national borders. It is this salience of death and dying that I explore in this paper. My focus will be on Syrian Christians and their ways of perceiving the materiality of death. Most centrally, I argue that the fear of extinction that death and dying evoke in the minority prevents them from embracing oppositional politics and is instead used by the regime to propagate the fact that it alone will be able to ensure a future for all of the country’s citizens.

Dik, “‘Your prayer moves God'”

Dik, Oleg.  2015.  “‘Your Prayer Moves God.'”  In Religion and Volunteering, edited by Lesley Hustinx, Johan von Essen, Jacques Haers, and Sara Mels, 263-282, Springer International Publishing.

Abstract: The Charismatic/Pentecostal (C/P) movement has emerged mainly due to its capacity to mobilize new believers towards strong participation in their emergent groups amidst a fragmented post-war city. In this chapter, I examine how volunteering of C/P believers is rooted in the benefits and religious culture of emergent C/P communities. After analysing the particular religious and sociopolitical culture of volunteering, I attempt to draw a conclusion as to whether C/P volunteering in Beirut contributes to social solidarity. The common sociopolitical analysis contends that religious volunteering in Lebanon is divisive. Religious volunteering is mainly carried out through religious welfare organizations (RWO). While I agree with the common overall political analysis, I also attempt to show that the effect of religious volunteering on social solidarity is not static, but hinges mainly on the religious culture within which the volunteering is embedded, the larger sociopolitical context, and the concrete setting and encounter of volunteers. By considering both the larger sociopolitical structure and the C/P culture as influencing the volunteering practices, I attempt to overcome the insider–outsider, agency–structure dichotomy, which often undergirds social analysis. The article contributes to a fuller understanding of how religiously motivated volunteering works in post-war societies with weak state institutions.

Kaell, “Trash Talk: US Pilgrims in Israel-Palestine”

Kaell, Hillary (2012) “Trash Talk: US Pilgrims in Israel-Palestine.” Anthropology News 53(8):12-13.

Opening Paragraph: “Each year nearly 300,000 US Christians walk where Jesus walked,’ traveling halfway around the world to visit biblical sites in Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA). As they tread hallowed ground, gaze from bus windows, and snap photos at panoramic lookouts, these pilgrims notice trash: litter, abandoned cars, unkempt houses. Garbage is always present at idealized sites, of course, but most tourists overlook it (Urry, 2002). In the Holy Land, however, it is too symbolically resonant to ignore. In fact, ‘trash talk’ serves a crucial role in the trip’s discourse. It offers US pilgrims a way to speak in a moral register about Israelis and Palestinians without engaging regional politics directly, which most try hard to avoid.”

Albera and Couroucli (eds), “Sharing Sacred Spaces in the Mediterranean: Christians, Muslims, and Jews at Shrines and Sanctuaries”

Albera, Dionigi and Maria Couroucli, eds. (2012). Sharing Sacred Spaces in the Mediterranean: Christians, Muslims, and Jews at Shrines and Sanctuaries. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Description

While devotional practices are usually viewed as mechanisms for reinforcing religious boundaries, in the multicultural, multiconfessional world of the Eastern Mediterranean, shared shrines sustain intercommunal and interreligious contact among groups. Heterodox, marginal, and largely ignored by central authorities, these practices persist despite aggressive, homogenizing nationalist movements. This volume challenges much of the received wisdom concerning the three major monotheistic religions and the “clash of civilizations.” Contributors examine intertwined religious traditions along the shores of the Near East from North Africa to the Balkans.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Sharing Sacred Places—A Mediterranean Tradition / Maria Couroucli
1. Identification and Identity Formation around Shared Shrines in West Bank Palestine and Western Macedonia / Glenn Bowman
2. The Vakëf: Sharing Religious Space in Albania / Gilles de Rapper
3. Komsiluk and Taking Care of the Neighbor’s Shrine in Bosnia-Herzegovina / Bojan Baskar
4. The Mount of the Cross: Sharing and Contesting Barriers on a Balkan Pilgrimage Site / Galia Valtchinova
5. Muslim Devotional Practices in Christian Shrines: The Case of Istanbul / Dionigi Albera and Benoît Fliche
6. Saint George the Anatolian: Master of Frontiers / Maria Couroucli
7. A Jewish-Muslim Shrine in North Morocco: Echoes of an Ambiguous Past / Henk Driessen
8. What Do Egypt’s Copts and Muslims Share? The Issue of Shrines / Catherine Mayeur-Jaouen
9. Apparitions of the Virgin in Egypt: Improving Relations between Copts and Muslims? / Sandrine Keriakos
10. Sharing the Baraka of the Saints: Pluridenominational Visits to the Christian Monasteries in Syria / Anna Poujeau
Conclusion: Crossing the Frontiers between the Monotheistic Religions, an Anthropological Approach / Dionigi Albera

Shenoda, “Public Christianity in a Revolutionary Egypt”

Shenoda, Anthony (2012) “Public Christianity in a Revolutionary Egypt” Hot Spots: Revolution and Counter-Revoltuion in Egypt. Cultural Anthropology. 4 February 2012.

first paragraph:

Coptic Orthodox Christians in Egypt make up roughly 10% of the Egyptian population. This brief essay concerns the ways in which they publicly confess their Christianity, the potential hazards of such confessions, and what I think such confessions communicate, and to whom. I focus on the Maspero Massacre, of October 9, 2011, when mostly Coptic protestors in front of the Maspero state television building in Cairo were mowed down by army Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) and bullets. Twenty-eight civilians were killed that day.

Farhadian, “Introducing World Christianity”

Farhadian, Charles E.  (2012) Introducing World Christianity. Madden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

Publisher’s Description: This interdisciplinary introduction offers students a truly global overview of the worldwide spread and impact of Christianity. It is enriched throughout by detailed historic and ethnographic material, showing how broad themes within Christianity have been adopted and adapted by Christian denominations within each major region of the world.

  • Provides a comprehensive overview of the spread and impact of world Christianity
  • Contains studies from every major region of the world, including Africa, Asia, Latin America, the North Atlantic, and Oceania
  • Brings together an international team of contributors from history, sociology, and anthropology, as well as religious studies
  • Examines the significant social, cultural, and political transformations in contemporary societies brought about through the influence of Christianity
  • Takes a non-theological approach, focusing instead on the impact of and response to Christianity
  • Discusses Protestant, Evangelical, Catholic, and Orthodox forms of the faith
  • Features useful maps and illustrations
  • Combines broader discussions with detailed regional analysis, creating an invaluable introduction to world Christianity

This is an engaging multidisciplinary introduction to the worldwide spread and impact of Christianity. Bringing together chapters from leading scholars in history, sociology, anthropology, and religious studies, this book examines the major transformations in contemporary societies brought about through the influence of Christianity.

Each chapter shows how the broad themes within Christianity have been adopted and adapted by Christian denominations within each major region of the world. In this way, the book paints a global picture of the impact of Christianity, enriched by detailed historic and ethnographic material for each particular region. Throughout, the chapters examine Protestant, Evangelical, Catholic and Orthodox forms of Christianity. The combination of broader perspectives and deep analysis of particular regions, illuminating the social, cultural, political, and religious features of changes brought about by Christianity, makes this book essential reading for students of world Christianity.

Stadler, “Between Scripture and Performance”

Stadler, Nurit (2011) “Between scripture and performance: cohesion and dissent at the Feast of Mary’s Dormition in Jerusalem,” Religion [advance copy – volume, issue, & page to be announced later]

Abstract: In contrast to popular Marian rites throughout the world, the Jerusalem Dormition Feast is held on a canonical route that includes the purported sites of some of the key moments in the Virgin’s life. The festival boasts an ancient liturgical order consisting of utterances and customs that are assiduously preserved by Jerusalem’s Greek-Orthodox Church. Drawing on Engelke’s distinction (2007) between scriptural authority and religious performance and numerous scholarly analyses of cohesion and dissent at assorted Marian shrines (e.g., Eade and Sallnow [1991]), this article explores the reactions to the local ceremonial on the part of various participants. While the clergy strives to impose its particular reading of the Scriptures on all the attendees, the different lay groups insist on performing rituals that give expression to their own knowledge of the canon and their own understanding of the Virgin’s nature. All told, their reactions range from rigid obedience to creative practices and heated dissent. The event ultimately splinters off into several factions and the host’s orderly script is compromised.