Abstract: This brief afterword comments on the papers from this special issue, arguing that each explores current complexities of interactions between national and transnational orientations, but also helps to nuance understandings of the global through the invocation of history. As a result, we not only observe the interplay between colonial and post-colonial regimes of religion and politics, but also gain an appreciation of transnational religious impulses that were in operation well before the last few decades of explicitly ‘global consciousness’. Christianisation has a significant history in the regions covered, but it cannot be understood through crude, unilinear models of development or progress.
Abstract: This article explores two seemingly contrasting types of Christian worship (one led by the pipe organ and the other by satsang), which I repeatedly experienced (between 2006 and 2010) during my fieldwork in Shimla, North India. Although it is often assumed that the pipe organ speaks more to colonial worship and satsang to postcolonial worship, this article demonstrates that both of these styles of worship are actually postcolonial attempts to negotiate colonial history. This suggests a need to complicate contemporary external discussions of the inculturation of Christian worship in India. Furthermore, by focusing on the way that contemporary Christians work with missionary histories to create living landscapes of worship, this article demonstrates that Christian worship is central to the identity of many non-Christian residents and tourists, who are also central to the formation of Christian landscapes of worship. The article concludes by suggesting that these groups also need to be brought into debates about the nature of Christian worship in contemporary India.
Abstract: When compared to the extensive historiography on missionary activity, the anthropology of missions is a relative newcomer, emerging as such in the context of the recent critique of the colonial system. In view of the importance of historiographical literature in outlining the subject, on the one hand, and of the impact of the decolonization of the African continent on anthropology, on the other hand, my purposes in this essay are, firstly, to examine how the historiography of colonial America and of African colonialism has handled the subject of missions; secondly, to describe the role of missionary activity in the historiographical debate in the context of the crisis of colonialism; and, lastly, to analyze how post-colonial critique has given rise to a new anthropology of missions.
Comaroff, Jean & John Comaroff (2012) “Neo-Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism: Perspectives from the Social Sciences” in Elias Kifon Bongmba, ed, The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to African Religions. Wiley & Sons, Malden MA, Pp. 62-78.
Excerpt: “Prolegomenon: Herewithin three glimpses into the new religious world order. The First is from Post-apartheid South Africa. The New Life Church is to be found in Malifkeng, in the North West Province. Founded just before the fall of apartheid, it typifies as brand of upbeat, technically-hyped Pentecostalism that is aspiring to fill the moral void left by a withering of revolutionary ideals and civic norms in the postcolony. While New Life is the creation of a talented pair of pastors, a husband and wife who had reshaped it independently of denominational oversight, their community belongs to the International Federation of Christian Churches; this is a global network of congregations, all of which combine a lively charismatic realism with a frank morality, the latter embodied in a subject not embarrassed by this-worldly desire. . . “
Abstract: There was a time when mission studies benefitted from a symbiotic relationship with the social sciences. However, it appears that relationship has stagnated and now is waning. The argument is made here, in the case of cultural anthropology both in Europe and the United States, that a once mutually beneficial though sometimes strained relationship has suffered a parting of the ways in recent decades. First, the article reviews the relationships between missionaries and anthropologists before World War II when it was possible to be a `missionary anthropologist’ with a foot in both disciplines. In that period, the conversation went two ways with missionary anthropologists making important contributions to anthropology. Then, the article reviews some aspects of the development of the two disciplines after World War II when increasing professionalism in both disciplines and a postmodern turn in anthropology took the disciplines in different directions. Finally, the article asks whether or not the conversation, and thus the cross-fertilization, can be restarted, especially since the youngest generation of anthropologists has recognized the reality of local Christianities in their fields of study.