Montemaggi, “The making of the relational Christian self”

Montemaggi, Francesca. 2017. “The making of the relational Christian self of New Monastics in the UK, US, and Canada.” In Monasticism in Modern Times, Isabelle Jonveaux and Stefania Palmisano, eds. 209-227.  London: Routledge.

Abstract: The chapter presents an overview of Anglo-American new monasticism based on ethnographic research in the UK, US, and Canada. New monastics are lay members of grass-roots communities, who do not belong to an established Monastic order; rather each community is autonomous and agrees a ‘rule’, a set of moral values and aspirations on how to live one’s life. The cross-national sample of communities points to the inclusivity as the overarching value for new monastics. This refers to inclusivity inside the group of fellow monastics and people attending monastic activities, but also to inclusivity of people at the margin of society, in particular in urban areas. This is expressed through the notion of hospitality. Taking as inspiration old monastic practices of the monastery as a safe haven, New monastic communities seek to ‘welcome the stranger’ in their midst. However, in contrast with old monastic communities, they choose to be located in inner-city areas to have a transformative impact on neighbourhoods facing socio-economic inequality. The chapter argues that inclusivity directs the formation of a Christian self that is relational and in dialectical opposition to – what they feel to be – the individualism of mainstream society.

Harkness, “Voicing Christian aspiration”

Harkness, Nicholas. 2015. Voicing Christian Aspiration: the semiotic anthropology of voice in Seoul. Ethnography 16(3): 313-330.

Abstract: This article proposes some analytical and methodological approaches to the urban ethnography of the human voice. Drawing on research among Protestant Christians in Seoul, South Korea, I consider the voice along three semiotic dimensions: the relationship between body and sound, the relationship between speech and song, and the relationship between the literal voice and more metaphorical understandings of voice (as perspective, political position, personhood, style, etc.). By focusing on Seoul’s rapid postwar urbanization, the growth of Protestant Christianity, and the intersection of these two phenomena in the suppression and erasure of signs of struggle and hardship by a certain population among the city’s Christians, I demonstrate how a focus on the human voice has the potential to illuminate important issues in the urban ethnography of newer Asian ‘megacities.’

Formenti, “Going for God”

Formenti, Ambra. 2014. Going for God: Mobility, Place and Temporality among Evangelical Guineans in Lisbon. Doctoral Dissertation, Dept. of Anthropology. Lisbon, Portugal: University of Lisbon.

Abstract: In the last decades the intensification of migratory flows has led to a gradual pluralisation of urban religious landscapes in Europe. One of the most relevant aspects of this process is the spreading of Evangelical and Pentecostal churches founded by African migrants, a phenomenon that contributed to the emergence of new configurations of Christianity in Europe. The town of Lisbon (Portugal), a place where different experiences of spirituality and distinct worldviews meet and interact, is an emblematic case of religious encounter between deep-rooted Catholicism and imported forms of Christianity. This dissertation provides an ethnography of Guinean Evangelical Christianity in Lisbon, focusing on the case of the Missão Evangélica Lusófona (MEL), a church settled in the outskirts of Lisbon and attended mostly by migrants from Guinea-Bissau.

Taking the MEL as a case-study of African Churches in the diaspora, I try to describe
and analyse the centrality of religion in the lives of Evangelical Guinean migrants in Lisbon.
My central argument is that, in this context, religious faith appears as a way to make sense of the experiences of dislocation and re-location of believers. Accordingly, in the following
pages I portray MEL as an emblematic example of how Evangelical Christianity sustains
migrants in their transnational movements while concurringly enables them to create a sense of place in the localities in which they chose to dwell.

Furthermore, by examining the experiences and life stories of MEL’s members, I
address a series of issues, such as: the meaning of conversion for individuals and
communities; the connection between religious faith and the condition of stranger; the
relationship between global/universal and local/particular dimensions of religious identity; the ways in which religious actors appropriate and transform the urban space where they live in; the emergence and transformation of peculiar visions of space and time, including the ways how human groups produce their past, present and future.

Middleton and Yarwood, “Christians, out here?”

Middleton, Jennie and Richard Yarwood. 2015. “Christians, out here?” Encountering Street-Pastors in the post-secular spaces of the UK’s night-time economy. Urban Studies 52(3): 501-516.

Abstract: This paper explores the concept of the post-secular city by examining the growing presence of Street-Pastors in the night-time economy of British cities. Street-Pastors are Christian volunteers who work to ensure the safety of people on a ‘night out’. We contribute to work that has called for greater attention to be placed on the ways in which religious faith and ethics are performed to create liminal spaces of understanding in urban areas. Drawing upon in-depth ethnographic research conducted in a range of UK towns and cities, we consider this distinct form of faith-based patrolling in relation to the spatial processes and practices of urban-nightscapes. By exploring the geographies of Street-Pastors, we not only contribute to more nuanced accounts of ‘drinking spaces’ but provide an empirical engagement with the growing body of work on urban rhythms and encounters.

Strhan, “Christianity and the City”

Strhan, Anna. 2014 Christianity and the City: Simmel, Space, and Urban Subjectivities. Religion and Society: Advances in Research. 4(1): 125-149.

Abstract: This article examines the growing scholarly interest in urban religion, situating the topic in relation to the contemporary analytical significance of cities as sites where processes of social change, such as globalization, transnationalism, and the influence of new media technologies, materialize in interrelated ways. I argue that Georg Simmel’s writing on cities offers resources to draw out further the significance of “the urban” in this emerging field. I bring together Simmel’s urban analysis with his approach to religion, focusing on Christianities and individuals’ relations with sacred figures, and suggest this perspective opens up how forms of religious practice respond to experiences of cultural fragmentation in complex urban environments. Drawing on his analysis of individuals’ engagement with the coherence of God, I explore conservative evangelicals’ systems of religious intersubjectivity to show how attention to the social effects of relations with sacred figures can deepen understanding of the formation of urban religious subjectivities.

Onuoha, “‘Exit’ and ‘Inclusion'”

Onuoha, Godwin. 2013. “Exit” and “Inclusion”: The Changing Paradigm of Pentecostal Expression in the Nigerian Public Sphere. In Topographies of Faith: Religion in Urban Spaces, Edited by Irene Becci, Marian Burchardt, and José Casanova, 207-226. Leiden: Brill.

Burchardt, “Belonging and Success”

Burchardt, Marian. 2013. Belonging and Success: Religious Vitality and the Politics of Urban Space in Cape Town. In Topographies of Faith: Religion in Urban Spaces, Edited by Irene Becci, Marian Burchardt, and José Casanova, 167-188. Leiden: Brill.

Day, “Faith on the Avenue”

Day, Katie. 2013. Faith on the Avenue: Religion on a City Street. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Publisher’s Description: In a richly illustrated, revelatory study of Philadelphia’s Germantown Avenue, home to a diverse array of more than 90 Christian and Muslim congregations, Katie Day explores the formative and multifaceted role of religious congregations within an urban environment. Germantown Avenue cuts through Philadelphia for eight and a half miles, from the affluent neighborhood of Chestnut Hill through the high crime section known as “the Badlands.” The congregations along this route range from the wealthiest to the poorest populations in Philadelphia. Some congregants are immigrants who find safety and support in close fellowship, while others are long-time residents whose congregations work actively to provide social services. Cities undergo constant change, and their congregations change with them. As Day observes, some congregations have sprung up in former commercial strips, harboring new arrivals and recreating a sense of home, and others form an anchor for a neighborhood across generations, providing a connection to the past and a hope of stability for the future. Drawing on years of research, in-depth interviews with religious leaders and congregants, and a wealth of demographic data, Day demonstrates the powerful influence cities exert on their congregations, and the surprising and important impact congregations have on their urban environment.

Selka, “Cityscapes and contact zones”

Selka, Stephen. 2013. Cityscapes and contact zones: Christianity, Candomble, and African heritage tourism in Brazil. Religion 43(3): 403-420.

Abstract: In this article the author explores the ways in which Catholic, evangelical, and Candomblé actors produce competing framings that shape encounters taking place in the city of Cachoeira in the Brazilian state of Bahia. The framing of Cachoeira as a site of heritage tourism – one where local religious practices are read as part of the African heritage and attractions for African American ‘roots tourists’ – obscures as much as it reveals. This is not to suggest that this framing is entirely inaccurate or to deny that many visitors themselves describe their trips to Bahia this way. But I contend that the ‘heritage frame’ masks key issues that complicate diasporic encounters in Cachoeira, particularly different understandings of heritage and religion and their relationship to black identity that African Americans and Afro-Brazilians bring to these encounters.