Timmer, ‘Building Jerusalem in North Malaita, Solomon Islands’

Timmer, Jaap. 2015.  Building Jerusalem in North Malaita, Solomon Islands. Oceania. doi:10.1002/ocea.5110

Abstract: Amid a variety of ideas of Israelite genealogies for To’abaita speakers in North Malaita, Solomon Islands, ‘Holy Land’ features as a utopian fantasy of a just nation, not in Israel but grounded in the ancestral soil of the island. I analyse this mimetic gesture as part of attempts to reconcile kastom (custom) with Christianity and as evoking a sense of an essentialised group identity. In particular for followers of the All People’s Prayer Assembly (APPA), the idea of an essentialised group of To’abaita as a nation in the canonical ‘Table of Nations’ in Genesis 10 is quite prominent. This dialectic between ‘religion’ and ‘nation’ explains the ways in which people claim to have found authentic To’abaita foundations for a nation unifying distinct lineage groups, with a religious form at the centre, namely: Jerusalem. In this article I will show that APPA’s theology weakens the claim of the ‘secular’ state while strengthening the force of religious imagination and ideas about local sovereignty and a related notion of nation.

Lim (ed), “Christianity in Contemporary China”

Lim, Francis Khek Gee, ed.  2012.  Christianity in Contemporary China: Socio-cultural Perspectives.   New York: Routledge.

Publisher’s Description: Christianity is one of the fastest growing religions in China. Despite its long history in China and its significant indigenization or intertwinement with Chinese society and culture, Christianity continues to generate suspicion among political elites and intense debates among broader communities within China. This unique book applies socio-cultural methods in the study of contemporary Christianity. Through a wide range of empirical analyses of the complex and highly diverse experience of Christianity in contemporary China, it examines the fraught processes by which various forms and practices of Christianity interact with the Chinese social, political and cultural spheres. Contributions by top scholars in the field are structured in the following sections: Enchantment, Nation and History, Civil Society, and Negotiating Boundaries. This book offers a major contribution to the field and provides a timely, wide-ranging assessment of Christianity in Contemporary China.

Galal, “Coptic Christian practices”

Galal, Lise Paulsen. 2012. Coptic Christian practices: formations of sameness and difference. Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations. 23(1):45-58.

Abstract: Phrases such as ‘the only difference is one of faith’ construct Copts and Muslims in Egypt as, although different, mainly the same as each other. Similar constructions of sameness are also dominant in historical and current Egyptian narratives on national unity. However, as a result of the privileging of sameness and the underplaying of differences, the interaction between narratives of sameness and difference has been left unexplored and partly ignored, not only by national movements, but also by research. Thus, the main issue examined in this article is how current Orthodox Christian practices in Egypt take shape under the influence of hegemonic narratives of sameness and difference. Supported by data collected from ethnographic fieldwork carried out in Egypt, the argument is that the Copts, by positioning themselves as Christians in specific locations and situations, are mediating the antithetical potentialities of being the same as or different from the national Muslim majority. In other words, Christianity not only makes a difference as a sign of the Copts’ minority position, but also simultaneously offers Copts a way out of their marginal position as a minority.