Blanes, “Politics of Sovereignty”

Blanes, Ruy Llera. 2015. “Politics of Sovereignty: Evangelical and Pentecostal Christianity and Politics in Angola.” In The Anthropology of Global Pentecostalism and Evangelicalism. Simon Coleman and Rosalind I.J. Hackett, eds. 197-213. New York: NYU Press.

Review: Ruy Blanes on “Christianity and Gender”

Part I: Review Forum, “Anthropology of Christianity: Unity, Diversity, New Directions”

Christianity and Gender

Eriksen, Annelin. 2014. Sarah’s Sinfulness: Egalitarianism, Denied Difference, and Gender in Pentecostal Christianity. Current Anthropology 55(s10): s226-s237.

Mayblin, Maya. 2014. People Like Us: Intimacy, Distants, and the Gender of Saints. Current Anthropology 55(s10): s271-s280.

By: Ruy Blanes (University of Bergen)

Unlike other, previous ‘nation-building’ endeavors, Current Anthropology’s special issue on the ‘Anthropology of Christianity: Unity, Diversity, New Directions’, edited by Joel Robbins and Naomi Haynes, is particularly valuable due to its explicit tackling of the epistemological limitations and potentialities of this disciplinary project. It congregates many protagonists of the emergence of this subdiscipline, with the identified goal of producing what could be called an ‘angelus novus move’. When Walter Benjamin wrote his theses on the philosophy of history (1968), he began his reflections with Paul Klee’s famous painting “Angelus Novus”, in which an angel appears, ‘moving forward but looking backward’. Benjamin interpreted this movement as the inevitable ‘storm of progress’ (1968: 258), in which we are involuntarily pushed into the future while looking back at what is left. This issue can be seen as one in which a similar looking back while moving forward takes place. Continue reading

Sites and Politics of Religious Diversity in Southern Europe: Book Review

Mapril, José and Ruy Blanes (eds). 2013. Sites and Politics of Religious Diversity in Southern Europe: The Best of All Gods. Leiden and Boston: Brill.

By: Kim Knibbe (University of Groningen)

The anthropology of religion in the South of Europe is alive and well. That is the resounding conclusion after reading this volume. Furthermore, it has stepped out well beyond the bounds of the classic ‘anthropology of the Mediterranean’. In an important sense, this volume also falls outside the scope of the anthropology of Christianity, since its subject is religious diversity, and it includes studies of Islam, Sikhism, Umbanda and Candomblé, New Age, and neo-paganism. In fact, only a small number of chapters deal with Christianity as their main subject matter. Nevertheless, the volume raises some important questions that are worth discussing in this forum.

The introduction by the editors does a good job of introducing the subject and providing a framework for the very diverse contributions to the volume. It starts out with the question of the religious heritage of Europe that emerged around the issue of a European constitution: can this be thought of only in terms of Christianity (in other discussions, ‘Judeo-’ is sometimes added in front of Christianity, still not self-evidently part of what is thought of as the European heritage)? This volume aims to show that the groups discussed here conceptualize Europe in quite different ways, and create new cartographies of this place called Europe. Each of these cartographies in their own right can be read as a challenge to the ‘secularist hegemony’ of public opinion and, one might add, of Eurocrats (1). Europe, even the south of Europe, which appeared so homogenously Christian in the anthropology of the Mediterranean, is quite diverse in terms of religion.

Continue reading

Blanes, A Prophetic Trajectory

Blanes, Ruy Llera. 2014. A Prophetic Trajectory: Ideologies of Place, Time, and Belonging in an Angolan Religious Movement. New York: Berghahn. 

Publisher’s DescriptionCombining ethnographic and historical research conducted in Angola, Portugal, and the United Kingdom, A Prophetic Trajectory tells the story of Simão Toko, the founder and leader of one of the most important contemporary Angolan religious movements. The book explains the historical, ethnic, spiritual, and identity transformations observed within the movement, and debates the politics of remembrance and heritage left behind after Toko’s passing in 1984. Ultimately, it questions the categories of prophetism and charisma, as well as the intersections between mobility, memory, and belonging in the Atlantic Lusophone sphere.

Eriksen and Blanes, “What kind of God?”

Eriksen, Annelin and Ruy Blanes. 2013. What kind of God? Hau: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 3(3): 375-80.

Excerpt: The anthropologist reader of When God talks back does not need to open the book to begin to collect information about what it is trying to convey, and how. By looking at the cover, feeling the pages in your fingers and, especially, glancing through the back cover, one quickly understands that this book, despite being written by an anthropologist, is not written as an “anthropology book” nor is it intended for only a disciplinary academic audience: the endorsements from newspaper reviews and famous neuroscientists, the thin, soon-to-be-brown airport bestseller paper, the mainstream publisher. . . . All these sensorial acknowledgements easily confirm our suspicion.

Blanes, “Time For Self Sacrifice”

Blanes, Ruy Llera. 2013. Time For Self Sacrifice.  Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology. (early digital release: DOI:10.1080/00141844.2013.806946).

Abstract: In this article I propose an approach to sacrifice through notions of time, memory and expectation, moving away from classical formalist definitions that highlight the ‘nature and function’ of sacrifice, and into ideas of meaning and experience and their insertion in particular ideologies of time. I will argue that sacrifice entails particular temporalities, participating in political and experiential realms of memory and expectation. For this, I will invoke a particular regime of sacrifice: the notion of self-sacrifice, as it circulates among a prophetic and messianic Christian movement of Angolan origin, the Tokoist Church.

Blanes, “Prophetic Visions of Europe”

Blanes, Ruy. 2013. Prophetic Visions of Europe: Rethinking Place and Belonging among Angola Christians in Lisbon. In Sites and Politics of Religious Diversity in Southern Europe. Ruy Blanes and Jose Mapril, eds. 19-36. London: Brill.