Abstract: Since the turn of the twenty-first century, the rapid growth of Peru’s extractive industries has unleashed diverse forms of political resistance to an economic system dependent on ecological destruction and human harm. In the central highlands of Peru, a Catholic scientific project based out of the Archdiocese of Huancayo undertook six years of research on heavy-metal contamination in the Mantaro Valley. This included lead-exposure studies in the notoriously polluted city of La Oroya, home to the country’s largest polymetallic smelter. How did the Catholic Church become an apt institution for the production of science in this region? Drawing on fieldwork with the Revive the Mantaro Project, this article conceptualizes the integration of religious and scientific practitioners and practices and the political landscape that necessitated, shaped, and limited them. Technocratic governance and anti-leftist sentiments made science a suitable political idiom for the Catholic Church to enact its ethos of abundance and demand the legitimacy of life beyond bare life. A state of endemic corruption and epistemic mistrust also obliged Catholic accompaniment to scientific practices to generate trust for the researchers and to provide ethical credibility as their knowledge entered the fray of national mining politics. Ultimately contending with entrenched systems of power, the Revive the Mantaro Project’s significance extended beyond political efficacy; its practices enacted a world of democracy, rights, and legal protections not yet of this world.
Abstract: Contrary to the assumption that religious conversion is strongly influenced by the hegemony of global forces (colonialism and modern state formation) over local communities, this paper argues that internal class antagonisms and material conditions also play an important role in the dynamics of adoption of or resistance to Christianity. By taking narratives of inter-class contestation between aristocrats (paren) and commoners (panyin) and ritual changes among the Kayan-Kenyah in upland Central Borneo during periods of religious conversion, this paper shows the significance of social hierarchy on people’s decisions to change or retain their religious practices.
Abstract: How do American Charismatic Evangelicals imagine human difference? Ethnographic fieldwork with the Vineyard, a Southern California originated but now nation-wide Charismatic Evangelical movement, suggests that for many lay American Charismatic Evangelicals, difference is conceptualized in three different modes, involving potentialities, relations, and boundedness. Much like a grammar shapes communication without imposing a single meaning, these forms of conceiving human difference mandate no single intrinsic political position, but do affect the way that American Charismatic evangelicals express and contest notions of human difference.
Publisher’s Description: Issues of homosexuality are the subject of public and political controversy in many African societies today. Frequently, these controversies receive widespread attention both locally and globally, such as with the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda. In the international media, these cases tend to be presented as revealing a deeply-rooted homophobia in Africa fuelled by religious and cultural traditions. But so far little energy is expended in understanding these controversies in all their complexity and the critical role religion plays in them. Complementing the companion volume, Public Religion and the Politics of Homosexuality in Africa, this book investigates Christian politics and discourses on homosexuality in sub-Saharan Africa. The contributors present case studies from various African countries, from Nigeria to South Africa and from Cameroon to Uganda, focusing on Pentecostal, Catholic and mainline Protestant churches. They critically examine popular Christian theologies that perpetuate homophobia and discrimination, but they also discuss contestations of such discourses and emerging alternative Christian perspectives that contribute to the recognition of sexual diversity, social justice and human rights in contemporary Africa.
Part I: Pentecostalism as a Public Religion
1. Sexual Bodies, Sacred Vessels: Pentecostal Discourses on Homosexuality in Nigeria Asonzeh Ukah
2. Scandal Makers: Competition in the Religious Market among Pentecostal-Charismatic Churches in Uganda Caroline Valois
3. The Homophobic Trinity: Pentecostal End-time, Prosperity and Healing Gospels as Contributors to Homophobia in Cameroon Frida Lyonga
4. A Kenyan Queer Prophet: Binyavanga Wainaina’s Public Contestation of Pentecostalism and Homophobia Adriaan van Klinken
Part II: Broader Christian Case Studies and Perspectives
5. Christianity, Homosexuality and Public Politics in Zambia Derrick M. Muwina
6. The Anti-homosexual Narrative in the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe: Political Diatribe or Religious Conservatism? Lovemore Ndlovu
7. Queer Fragility and Christian Social Ethics: A Political Interpolation of the Catholic Church in Cameroon S.N. Nyeck
8. Is “Being Right” More Important than “Being Together”? Intercultural Bible Reading and Life-giving Dialogue on Homosexuality in the Dutch Reformed Church, South Africa Charlene van der Walt
Part III: Christian Subversions and Transformations
9. Enduring and Subverting Homophobia: Religious Experiences of Same-sex Loving People in Zimbabwe Nelson Muparamoto
10. ‘Born this Way’: The Imago Dei in Men Who Love Other Men in Lusaka, Zambia Lilly Phiri
11. Unlikely Allies? Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Activists and Church Leaders in Africa Ezra Chitando and Tapiwa P. Mapuranga
12. Reconfiguring a Biblical Story (Genesis 19) in the Context of South African Discussions about Homosexuality Gerald O. West
Abstract: The role of religion in Latin American politics can no longer be interpreted with reductionist schemes. The faithful—citizens—are combining faith and politics in unprecedented ways, and churches and denominations are no longer factors of political identity. The reconfiguration of new social and political movements interweaves complex linkages with the religious. The transformations of the political field and especially of democratic processes have reshaped identities in a context of increasing religious and cultural diversity with relatively less Catholic presence and greater Evangelical presence. Institutional secularization and religious pluralism seem to go hand in hand with a new cleavage between religion and politics.
Abstract: This paper focuses on contemporary charismatic Christian practices of spiritual warfare and its techniques of warfare prayer. The paradigm of “global spiritual warfare” with its apocalyptic visions, violent language and its obsession with enemies, appears as a particularly polemical instance of Christian supersessionism and expansionism. Drawing on material from Nigeria and the United States, I briefly explore two related axes in order to bring to light the centrality of prayer conceived as a form of political praxis. First, the ways in which charismatic Christianity self-consciously and antagonistically constructs itself as a global force. In this global expansion, prayer as an embodied form of inspired speech is central both to the construction of militant subjects and the occupation of public space. Secondly, since the violence of spiritual warriors is mostly effected through their prayers and testimonies, we are led to question the place of an activist, pragmatist, or even performative model of truth for a political problematics of emancipation and democratization.
Luehrmann, Sonja. 2015. The politics of prayer books: Delegated intercession, names, and community boundaries in the Russian Orthodox Church. Journal of Religious and Political Practice. Early online publication.
Abstract: Prayer is most easily conceived of as political speech when it is a spontaneous practice showing individual and group reactions to current events. Where prayer is a routinized activity involving the recitation of canonical texts, interpreters locate politics in the disciplining of bodies and acts of claiming space. This paper takes inspiration from ethnographies of oral ritual performance and Quranic recitation to include texts and the delegation of speech roles in the analysis of recited prayer. Most Russian Orthodox Christians either pray from a prayer book or order such prayers to be said by specialists. Focusing on the use of baptismal names as indexical elements in intercessory prayer, I argue that Orthodox Christian textual practices sustain a particular form of fractal social authority. Standardized prayer texts synchronize lay and delegated clerical voices, while individualizing responsibility for non-Orthodox kin and acquaintances. Through analyzing canonical and non-canonical intercessory formulae, one can see that part of the political force of prayer lies in constructing community boundaries while dynamically readjusting them.
Abstract: Kingdom tok is an expression that is increasingly used in Honiara. It describes a set of ideas and practices related to what Solomon Islanders see as a recent ‘season’ in their history. Such a season is characterised by the reappropriation of particular meanings of their faith that they perceive as influenced by recent historical processes such as the colonial era, the introduction of Christianity, and the first few decades from independence. In terms of ‘Kingdom’, they envision the possibility to challenge political hierarchies, social stratification, and issues of governance, as well as to re-define their identities in relation to a general state of empowerment. In Honiara, Pentecostal churches and groups with a strong identification with Judaism make use of Kingdom tok discourses. I claim that they experience the actualisation of Kingdom tok as concrete projects of social action and service provision, which they see as concrete alternatives to historical churches, the state, and the ‘way of the waitman’.
Publisher’s Description: The Handbook of Global Contemporary Christianity: Themes and Developments in Culture, Politics, and Society maps the transformations, as well as the continuities, of the largest of the major religions – engaging with the critical global issues which relate to the faith in a fast changing world. International experts in the area offer contributions focusing on global movements; regional trends and developments; Christianity, the state, politics and polity; and Christianity and social diversity. Collectively the contributors provide a comprehensive treatment of health of the religion as Christianity enters its third millennium in existence and details the challenges and dilemmas facing its various expressions, both old and new. The volume is a companion to the Handbook of Contemporary Global Christianity: Movements, Institutions, and Allegiance.
Abstract: The article shows that in Foucault’s late 1970s and early 1980s analyses of pastoral, conductive power—most essentially in early and medieval Christianity—the issue of sight and visual perception recurs and occupies a crucial status. In Foucault’s discussion, these Christian relations of power, knowledge, and truth are attached with a surveying gaze that is both totalizing as well as individualizing, one that is mobilized by the thrust towards perfect visibility, transparency, and illumination of the subject turned into an object. The intention is also to develop Foucault’s analysis further, by demonstrating how Christian, providential government can be and actually has been detached from the totalizing modality of optics, and instead become articulated with a very different sort of sight and seeing, one that is non-totalizing and affirms its own limits. The article maintains that from this angle, Foucault’s conception of modern, economic-liberal governmentality has essential convergences with the Christian form of providential government, even though Foucault himself leaves these convergences partly inarticulate.