Handman, Courtney and Opas, Minna. (2019) “Institutions, Infrastructures, and Religious Sociality: The Difference Denominations Make in Global Christianity.” Anthropological Quarterly. 92(4): 1001-1014.
Abstract: Scholars working in the anthropology of Christianity have focused in large part on the subject in Protestantism, emphasizing the ways in which the modern subject is a Christian subject (Robbins 2004, 2007; Keane 2007; Meyer 1999; Elisha 2011; O’Neill 2010). This follows a wider trend in the renewed anthropological analyses of religion, morality, and ethics that have been oriented around religious subjectivities as the primary sites of investigation (e.g., Hirschkind 2006, Mahmood 2005, Laidlaw 2013, Lambek 2010). As productive as this line of questioning has been in conceptualizing Christian subjects, it has largely come at the expense of an emphasis on the social groups in and through which Christian practice takes place. Although relatedness has been understood to contribute to the rise of individuals’ faith (e.g., Bielo 2009, Coleman 2015, Elisha 2011, Luhrmann 2004), the significance of institutionalized structures of sociality has rarely been addressed. In this collection, we ask: what is lost when the institutions and infrastructures of Christian practice are elided? In addressing this question, we pay particular attention to the denominational form, doing so in the face of long-standing theological and ethnographic traditions that have resolutely denied the importance of this institution.
Mayblin, Maya. 2018. “A brilliant jewel: sex, celibacy, and the Roman Catholic Church. Religion. DOI: 10.1080/0048721X.2018.1525774
Abstract: As clerical sexual abuse scandals hit the news and the crisis of vocations worsens each year, debate about the merits of mandatory clerical celibacy continues to grow. The fact remains, however, that supposedly celibate priests have been sexually active in significant numbers throughout history and that their sexual activity has barely affected the power of the Church. In this article, I focus on the ‘everyday’ nature of sexual ‘incontinence’ among a group of Northeast Brazilian priests and analyse the relative systematicity with which vow-breaking is accommodated. Such systematicity, I suggest, reveals an ongoing stable-instability at the heart of the Church as an institution; a dynamic which, if better understood, can help to explain the most characteristic (but often overlooked) feature of institutions more generally: their impressive longevity.
Kraybill, Jeanine E. 2016. “Non-ordained: Examining the Level of Female Religious Political Engagement and Social Policy Influence within the American Catholic Church.” Fieldwork in Religion 11(2): DOI: 10.1558/firn.32964
Abstract: The Catholic Church, constructed on an all-male clerical model, is a hierarchical and gendered institution, creating barriers to female leadership. In interviewing members of the clergy and women religious of the faith, this article examines how female non-ordained and male clerical religious leaders engage and influence social policy. It specifically addresses how women religious maneuver around the institutional constraints of the Church, in order to take action on social issues and effect change. In adding to the scholarship on this topic, I argue that part of the strategy of women religious in navigating barriers of the institutional Church is not only knowing when to act outside of the formal hierarchy, but realizing when it is in the benefit of their social policy objectives to collaborate with it. This maneuvering may not always safeguard women religious from institutional scrutiny, as seen by the 2012 Doctrinal Assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, but instead captures the tension between female religious and the clergy. It also highlights how situations of institutional scrutiny can have positive implications for female religious leaders, their policy goals and congregations. Finally, this examination shows how even when women are appointed to leadership posts within the institutional Church, they can face limitations of acceptance and other constraints that are different from their female religious counterparts working within their own respective religious congregations or outside organizations.
Barker, John. 2014. The One and the Many: Church-Centered Innovations in a Papua New Guinean Community. Current Anthropology DOI: 10.1086/678291
Abstract: The emerging field of the anthropology of Christianity appears suspended between two poles: a concern with understanding the continuous and relatively coherent traits of the religious tradition as a whole (the “One”), and the documentation of the highly contingent forms found in local communities (the “Many”). This tension, in turn, feeds sometimes intense debates about whether conversion to Christianity along the modern missionary frontier is best understood as rupture from or continuity with indigenous cultural forms and understandings. While such binaries have been highly productive, they are still misleading, because many if not most Christians do not experience the religion in such terms but rather largely in the context of institutionalized rituals, dogmas, and church organizations. I illustrate this point by examining the ways the Maisin people of Papua New Guinea have both adjusted and adapted to Anglicanism over the past century through three modes I describe as “accommodations,” “repurposings,” and “spandrels.” Studying such institutional configurations, I suggest, provides anthropologists a strategic point to consider local versions of Christianity as both One and Many.
Lindholm, Charles. 2013. The Anthropology of Religious Charisma: Ecstasies and Institutions. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.
Publisher’s Description: How can the irrational force of charisma co-exist within rationalized religious institutions? To answer this question, this book provides the first comparative anthropological explorations of charisma as it occurs among Charismatic Catholics, Evangelical Protestants, Sufis, Hassidic Jews, Buddhist cultists, and Native American shamans in locations ranging from Massachusetts to Syria; from Taiwan to the Dominican Republic; from Angola to the jungles of Paraguay, from Rome to Brooklyn. These cases reveal how various religious traditions incorporate ecstatic charismatic experiences within their overarching organizational systems, and so provide new insight into the nature of religion today.
Table of Contents:
Introduction: Charisma in Theory and Practice; Charles Lindholm
PART I: PERFORMING CHARISMA
1. Performing the Charismatic Ritual; Keping Wu
2. Knowledge and Miracles: Modes of Charisma in Syrian Sufism; Paulo G. Pinto
PART II: GENDERING CHARISMA
3. Female Sufis in Syria: Charismatic Authority and Bureaucratic Structure; Gisele Fonseca Chegas
4. The Gender of Charisma: Notes from a Taiwanese Buddhist Transnational NGO; C. Julia Huang-Lemmon
5. Residual Masculinity and the Cultivation of Negative-Charisma in a Caribbean Pentecostal Community; Brendan Jamal Thornton
PART III: CHARISMA AND POLITICS
6. Extraordinary Times: Charismatic Repertoires in Contemporary African Prophetism; Ruy Llera Blanes
7. The Routinization of Improvisation in Avá-Guaraní Shamanic Leadership; Eric Michael Kelley
PART IV: POSTHUMOUS CHARISMA
8. Unruly Miracles: Embodied Charisma and Modern Sainthood, from Padre Pio to “Papa Buono”; Sara M. Bergstresser
9. Habad, Messianism, and the Phantom Charisma of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Scheerson; Yoram Bilu