Tapp, “Religious Issues in China’s Rural Development: The Importance of Ethnic Minorities”

Tapp, Nicholas. 2014.  Religious Issues in China’s Rural Development: The Importance of Ethnic Minorities. The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, 15(5):433-452.

Abstract: This paper considers Chinese religion in relation to the changing nature of rural society and modernisation. Rural/urban distinctions are questioned, while the realities of religious differences between them are affirmed. Development is related to modernisation and multiple sources of Chinese modernity are considered. Religion is examined in terms of its tendencies towards diversification and capacity to embody visions of an alternative moral order. Some aspects of ethnic minority religion and its renewal are introduced, with reference to the ethnography of the Hmong, to show that minority religious issues can reflect broader religious issues in China. Geomancy and ancestral worship are shared by Hmong and Han Chinese. In conclusion it is argued that religion is increasingly presented as cultural in China through a process of ‘folklorisation’, which in the larger sense may not be problematic, yet important aspects of spirituality are lost which may find expression in mass Christian conversions.

Gross, “Incompatible Worlds?”

Gross, Toomas. 2012. Incompatible Worlds? Protestantism and Costumbre in the Zapotec Villages of Northern Oaxaca. Folklore: Electronic Journal of Folklore 51:191-218.

Abstract: In recent decades, Protestant population has grown rapidly in most Latin American countries, including Mexico. The growth has been particularly fast in rural and indigenous areas, where Protestantism is often claimed to trigger profound socio-cultural changes. This article discusses the impact of Protestant growth on customs, collective practices and local identities using the example of indigenous Zapotec communities of the Sierra Juárez in northern Oaxaca. Drawing on the author’s intermittent fieldwork in the region since 1998, most recently in 2012, the article first scrutinises some of the recurring local perceptions of Protestant growth in the Sierra Juárez and their impact on communal life. Particular attention will be paid to converts’ break with various customary practices pertaining to what locally is referred to as usos y costumbres. The article will then critically revise the claims about the culturally destructive influence of Protestantism, suggesting that the socio-cultural changes in contemporary indigenous communities of Oaxaca may actually be caused by more general modernising and globalising forces, and that the transformative role of Protestantism is often exaggerated.

Di Bella, “Glossolalia and Possession among Pentecostal groups of the Mezzogiorno”

Di Bella, Maria Pia “Glossolalia and Possession among Pentecostal groups of the Mezzogiorno” (translated by Olga Koepping) in Elizabeth Koepping (ed.), World Christianity, London, Routledge (Critical concepts in Religious Studies), 2011, vol. 2, pp. 307-320.

Excerpt: “This study of the emergence of the new doctrine within a rural environment started at Accadia in Apulia, a centre for Oneness Pentecostalism, and later extended to other villages where this doctrine developed . . . Moreover, a comparison has been drawn with certain Trinitarian Pentecostal groups in the neighbouring Apulian towns of Anzano and Monteleone. The introduction of Pentecostalism and its development in a rural environment clearly followed the same pattern in these different locations. Three distinct phases could be discovered in the process, each marked by resistance to rural local values . . . “