Peel, “Time and difference in the anthropology of religion (The 2000 Frazer Lecture)”

Peel, J.D.Y. 2016. Time and difference in the anthropology of religion (The 2000 Frazer Lecture). HAU 6(1):533-551.

Abstract: J. D. Y. Peel’s Frazer Lecture of 2000, published here posthumously, presented his early thoughts about the three-sided comparison that would culminate his trilogy of works on Yoruba religion. Working through these arguments would occupy another decade and a half until the publication of Christianity, Islam, and Orisa religion: Three traditions in comparison and interaction (2016, University of California Press). As a historian and sociologist, John was by turns stimulated and exasperated by anthropologists. An ethnographic method was essential to comparison he accepted, but anthropologists were poor at temporality in a number of senses: when locating their own researches, the lives of those they met, the sources they used, their own notes; and when delineating what they meant by context, what it meant to their subjects, and where it came from; and most germane here, in recognizing the historical trajectories imparted to religions by their histories, discourses and practices. In short, for all they wrote a deal about it, anthropologists were practically poor when describing the consequences of humans being beings in time. The lecture proposes solutions to these lacks.

Davie-Kessler, “‘Discover Your Destiny’: Sensation, Time, and Bible Reading among Nigerian Pentecostals”

Davie-Kessler, Jesse. 2016.  “Discover Your Destiny”: Sensation, Time, and Bible Reading among Nigerian Pentecostals. Anthropologica 58(1):1-14.

 Abstract: Pentecostal Christians in southwest Nigeria claim to experience divine revelations of personal destiny by reading scripture. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork with the Redeemed Christian Church of God, this article argues that members’ sensual reading practices are entangled with perceptions of time. Church members use bodily experience to construct a near future that they understand as continuous with the lived present. To examine the production of embodied religious temporality, I use a stage-based analysis of Pentecostal hermeneutic development. Church members gradually progress from “beginning” to “advanced” stages of Bible reading, generating new relationships to the self and to a Christian cosmology.

Ikeuchim, “Back to the Present”

Ikeuchim, Suma.  2015. Back to the Present: The ‘Temporal Tandem’ of Migration and Conversion among Pentecostal Nikkei Brazilians in Japan.  Ethnos.  Early online publication.

Abstract: This article contributes to the emerging area of research in the anthropology of Christianity that focuses on mobility and temporality. It does so by elaborating on the concept of ‘temporal tandem’, which is defined as a process of joint temporalization by which seemingly disparate projects of migration and conversion become interlocked. Pentecostal converts among Brazilians of Japanese descent (Nikkeis) in Japan will serve as a case study to delineate this concept. Temporality figures as a central theme in their stories of migration to the supposed ancestral homeland as well as in their narratives of conversion in Japan. I will illustrate the ways in which conversion addresses common concerns regarding time among the migrant converts, such as ‘putting aside living for the future’. The article concludes with an observation that Nikkeis often experience Pentecostal conversion as a ‘return to the present’, where life is no longer perceived to be suspended.

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.

Brightman, “Maps and Clocks”

Brightman, Marc. 2012. Maps and Clocks in Amazonia: the things of conversion and conversation. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 18(3):554-571.


Engaging with the recent interest in materiality in the anthropology of Amazonia, this article focuses on objects which might seem to present a challenge to indigenous systems of thought. Maps and clocks separate and abstract space and time from each other, and from the phenomena of experience, by reducing them to plane and number. Partly for this reason, and partly because of their association with Christian conversion, they may be seen as symbols and instruments of colonialism and of the technological foundations of European power. The article offers an analysis of an Amazonian group’s strong interest in these objects and in the modes of thought which they represent. It concludes with reflections on native historicity and the modalities of cultural change in a context of sustained contact with alterity.


Dans la ligne du récent intérêt de l’anthropologie amazoniste envers la matérialité, l’auteur examine des objets qui semblent poser un défi aux systèmes de pensée autochtones. Cartes et horloges dissocient l’espace et le temps et les séparent des phénomènes perceptibles en les réduisant à des plans et des nombres. Pour cette raison, et aussi à cause de leur association à la conversion au christianisme, elles apparaissent comme symboles et instruments du colonialisme et des fondements technologiques de la puissance européenne. Le présent article analyse le vif intérêt d’un groupe amazonien pour ces objets et les modes de pensée qu’ils représentent. Il se conclut par des réflexions sur l’historicité indigène et les modalités du changement culturel, dans un contexte de contact permanent avec l’altérité.

Naumescu, Vlad (2011) “The Case for Religious Transmission: Time and Transmission in the Anthropology of Christianity”

Naumescu, Vlad. 2011. The Case for Religious Transmission: Time and Transmission in the Anthropology of Christianity. Religion and Society: Advances in Research. 2(1):54-71.


Acknowledging the growing interest in issues of religious transmission, this article reviews two promising yet contradictory approaches to religion that could be described as historicist and universalist. It offers an alternative view premised on their convergence in a pragmatic approach that can link the material, contextual, and institutional dimensions of transmission with corresponding cognitive, perceptive, and emotional processes. This perspective recognizes the historicity of religious transmission and its cognitive underpinnings while attending to the materiality of its semiotic forms. The article focuses on the relationship between time and transmission in recent ethnographies of Christianity that show how Christian temporalities influence perceptions of social continuity or rupture and individuals’ becoming in history. Within this frame, it examines the case of Old Believers, an apocalyptic movement that emerged out of a schism in seventeenth-century Russian Orthodoxy, to indicate how a pragmatic approach works in practice.