Feldman, “A Jewish Guide in the Holy Land: How Christian Pilgrims Made Me Israeli”

Feldman, Jackie. 2016. A Jewish guide in the Holy Land: how Christian pilgrims made me Israeli. Bloomington; Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.

Publisher’s description: For many Evangelical Christians, a trip to the Holy Land is an integral part of practicing their faith. Arriving in groups, most of these pilgrims are guided by Jewish Israeli tour guides. For more than three decades, Jackie Feldman—born into an Orthodox Jewish family in New York, now an Israeli citizen, scholar, and licensed guide—has been leading tours, interpreting Biblical landscapes, and fielding questions about religion and current politics. In this book, he draws on pilgrimage and tourism studies, his own experiences, and interviews with other guides, Palestinian drivers and travel agents, and Christian pastors to examine the complex interactions through which guides and tourists “co-produce” the Bible Land. He uncovers the implicit politics of travel brochures and religious souvenirs. Feldman asks what it means when Jewish-Israeli guides get caught up in their own performances or participate in Christian rituals, and reflects on how his interactions with Christian tourists have changed his understanding of himself and his views of religion.

Boylston, “Death and the Semiotics of Remembrance”

Boylston, Tom. 2015. “And Unto Dust Thou Shalt Return”: Death and the Semiotics of Remembrance in an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Village. Material Religion 11(3): 281-302.

Abstract: This ethnographic article discusses funerary practice, Orthodox Christian ideas of body and spirit, and the ways in which people make memorials for each other on the Zege Peninsula in northwest Ethiopia. I pay special attention to gravestones because, here as in many other places, physical memorials to the dead become locations where latent uncertainties and conflicts about the relationship between spirit and matter, body and soul, and this world and the next, tend to crystallize. I show that material memorials highlight ambiguities in Orthodox attitudes to human embodiment and challenge priestly monopolies over relations between the living and the dead. Because of material chains of mediation and memorialization, the disaggregating practices of Orthodox funerary ritual can never fully untangle the deceased from their worldly social entanglements.

Lynch, “Ritual, Social Change, and Globalization”

Lynch, Andrew P. 2016. “Ritual, Social Change, and Globalization: The Catholic Liturgy in Modern Australia.” In Religious Diversity Today: Experiencing Religion in the Contemporary World. Edited by Liam D. Murphy, 1-22. Santa Barbara: Praeger.

Excerpt: “In this chapter, I will examine how two different Catholic communities use ritual to help make sense of an ever-changing social environment. This use of ritual will be analyzed through an examination of the impact that globalization, secularization, and post secularism are having on society, and in particular religious groups, in contemporary times.”

Dulin, “Reversing Rupture: Evangelicals’ Practice of Jewish Rituals and Processes of Protestant Inclusion”

Dulin, John. 2015. “Reversing Rupture: Evangelicals’ Practice of Jewish Rituals and Processes of Protestant Inclusion.’ Anthropological Quarterly 88(3): 601-634. 

Abstract: This article explores how an evangelical community in southern California can embrace disparate worship modalities—formalistic/anti-formalistic, Jewish/Christian—as legitimate and acceptable moral options. It argues that a major engine driving the acceptance of a previously excluded worship form is the way that Jewish rituals become framed within a particular Christian model of time. The meta-ritual discourse of religious leaders and lay people connects the ritual context to other moments in Christian narratives, opening up a pocket of biblical temporality where divine phenomena can crystallize into material worship forms. The model of time I discuss instantiates distinct aspects of Christian metaphysics—immanence/transcendence, spirit/absence/incarnation—at discrete periods in salvation history. The ethnography and argument presented here suggest that attention to discourses that connect different temporal contexts may help us understand how theological ideas drive shifts toward both exclusion and greater inclusion of disparate worship forms in Christian communities.

Robbins, “Ritual, value, and example”

Robbins, Joel. 2015. Ritual, value, and example: on the perfection of cultural representations. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 21(s1):18-29.

Abstract: For modes of thinking influenced by the fact/value distinction, values are often defined as in some sense unreal. Against this view, I argue that values exist in the form of socially concrete, enacted examples. In making this argument, I define examples as representations that model the realization of single values in full form – forms that are not common in daily life because most actions are driven by a mix of diverse value considerations. I further suggest that rituals are a key social form in which exemplary representations of values are made socially available. I illustrate this argument by analysing two important rituals among the Urapmin of Papua New Guinea, and by exploring several innovative Urapmin rituals that have failed to become established because, I suggest, they do not provide examples of fully realized values.

Pritchard, Pilgrimages and publics: The case of Taizé

Pritchard, Elizabeth. 2015. Pilgrimages and publics: The case of Taize. Anthropological Theory 15(1): 68–91.

Abstract: Applying Michael Warner’s definition of a public as an organized body capable of being addressed in discourse, this essay argues that the mission and associated practices of Taizé pilgrimage are a public formation. The argument draws from visits to the Taizé community in France, to a Taizé youth group in Rotterdam, interviews with pilgrims, writings by community leaders and members, as well as numerous addresses to the European pilgrimages on the part of religious and political leaders. The aims of this argument are to bring pilgrimage research into broader conversations with other strata of cultural theory and to challenge prevailing understandings of the ‘public’ and the relationship between publicness and religion.

Haynes, “Egalitarianism and hierarchy in Copperbelt religious practice”

Haynes, Naomi. 2015. Egalitarianism and hierarchy in Copperbelt religious practice: on the social work of Pentecostal ritual. Religion DOI:10.1080/0048721X.2014.992106 [early digital release]

Abstract: This article offers an analysis of Pentecostal ritual life focused on a core tension in this religion, namely that between the egalitarianism associated with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all believers and the hierarchy that follows from the charismatic authority of church leaders. Drawing on ethnographic material from the Zambian Copperbelt, the author traces out the egalitarian and hierarchical aspects of Pentecostal ritual in order to demonstrate the importance of both of these elements to the social relationships that Pentecostal adherence produces. While the tension between egalitarianism and hierarchy is evident in all Pentecostal groups, on the Copperbelt their interaction produces social results which build on extant cultural models, and which have particular significance in the light of Zambia’s recent economic history. These local resonances in turn allow us to address discontinuity, a central topic in analyses of Pentecostalism, as well as the role of creativity in ritual practice.

Ritual Textuality: Review Forum (Matt Tomlinson)

A Reply to Reviewers

By: Matt Tomlinson (Australian National University)


I am grateful to the reviewers for their engaged readings of Ritual Textuality and to AnthroCyBib for hosting this forum. It is both daunting and exhilarating to watch one’s own book—such an intimately strange creation!—move into conversationsof critique. The reviewers have carefully described the argument and been generous in their responses. Individually and collectively, they raise insightful questions, especially about dimensions of metaphor, the utility of typologies, and the limits of language. I will address each reviewer’s contribution individually. Continue reading

Ritual Textuality: Review Forum (Girish Daswani)

Tomlinson, Matt. 2014. Ritual Textuality: Pattern and Motion in Performance. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. 

By: Girish Daswani (University of Toronto)


This is the kind of book that you will want to read. It is based on twenty-eight months of research in Fiji (Kadavu and Suva) and explores the overlapping themes of Pentecostal Christianity, Methodism, tradition and politics. It is also theoretically insightful and relevant because it takes you beyond Fiji, Christianity, tradition and politics. Tomlinson’s book is both short and eloquently written. It is an Introduction, four chapters and a “Full Stop” (his conclusion) long and is designed to both inform and effectively teach readers how discourse and written texts, which emerge in ritual performances, can be broken down into distinctive patterns. There are four basic patterns to all ritual performances Tomlinson suggests – sequence, conjunction, contrast and substitution – and once you know what these patterns are and how they function and converge, a new door of analysis opens up. All you have to do is walk in. Even if this book is not explicitly framed as an invitation, it implicitly invites you to try these methods for yourself. The content of its pages leaves the reader with important conceptual tools with which to analyze an array of ritual performances in motion and to understand how the various components of these rituals converge in different ways and to varying effects. Continue reading

Ritual Textuality: Review Forum (Rodolfo Maggio)

Tomlinson, Matt. 2014. Ritual Textuality: Pattern and Motion in Performance. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. 

By: Rodolfo Maggio (University of Manchester)


Matt Tomlinson’s Ritual Textuality is a fascinating and capturing interplay between conceptual categories and ethnographic data. From the very beginning of the book the reader is intrigued by the degree of precision with which Tomlinson defines the concepts through which he comprehends the objects of his analysis. Dipping into the introduction, one’s mind’s eye seems to observe a chemist who prepares his tubes and kits himself out for a daring experiment. Continue reading