Youseff, Joseph. 2013. From the Blood of St. Mina to the Martyrs of Maspero: Commemoration, Identity, and Social Memory in the Coptic Orthodox Church. Journal of the Canadian Society for Coptic Studies 5(1): 61-73.
Abstract: This article will discuss the role of commemorating martyrs in the Coptic Orthodox Church and how commemoration is used by Copts as a mode for political and social agency. Furthermore, commemoration is a means by which Copts cope with the rise of sectarian violence in Egypt today. I will focus on two ways Coptic martyrs are commemorated. The first is through visiting the shrines of martyrs, whose relics are believed by Copts to possess a certain kind of blessing (baraka). The second and more recent kind of commemoration that has emerged in the last three years takes form in prayer meetings meant to honor victims of sectarian violence, namely, the Martyrs of Nag Hammadi (2010), Alexandria (2011), and Maspero (2011). In both these types of commemoration the narratives and hagiographies of martyrs are (re)articulated and juxtaposed in the present to emphasize the continuity of the Coptic Church as a “Church of Martyrs.” In this way, commemoration is more than an act of remembering; it is an active attempt to make and remake the past in the present.
Scherz, China. 2013. Let us make God our banker: Ethics, temporality, and agency in a Ugandan charity home. American Ethnologist 40(4): 624-636.
Abstract: Faith in divine intervention affects the ethical and temporal orientations of a community of East African nuns managing a charity home in Central Uganda and leads them to make programmatic decisions that put them at odds with mainstream approaches in development and humanitarianism. By demonstrating that their resistance to long-term planning and audit practices is not the product of material privation or ignorance but, rather, a consciously developed orientation toward time and agency, I bring together concerns from the anthropology of religion and the anthropology of development. Further, by seeking to explain how the sisters come to hold their particular beliefs, I move beyond the elucidation of doctrine to show how mundane forms of practice are central to the formation of ethical subjectivity.
Blanes, Ruy Llera. 2013. Time For Self Sacrifice. Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology. (early digital release: DOI:10.1080/00141844.2013.806946).
Abstract: In this article I propose an approach to sacrifice through notions of time, memory and expectation, moving away from classical formalist definitions that highlight the ‘nature and function’ of sacrifice, and into ideas of meaning and experience and their insertion in particular ideologies of time. I will argue that sacrifice entails particular temporalities, participating in political and experiential realms of memory and expectation. For this, I will invoke a particular regime of sacrifice: the notion of self-sacrifice, as it circulates among a prophetic and messianic Christian movement of Angolan origin, the Tokoist Church.
Elisha, Omri. 2013. The Time and Place for Prayer: evangelical urbanism and citywide prayer movements. Religion 43(3): 312-330.
Abstract: This article explores a recent trend in evangelical revivalism known as ‘citywide prayer,’ a movement organized around prayer networks and public rituals that highlight religious concerns deemed specific to cities and metropolitan regions. Building on research that includes ethnographic fieldwork in Knoxville, Tennessee, and focusing on the discourse and practical strategies of citywide prayer, the article argues that advocates of this movement promote a style of evangelical urbanism in which prayer serves as a key medium for reimagining one’s sense of place, against the disorientation and alienation associated with urban life. Moreover, prayer is presented as a medium for marking time in non-secular terms, as is demonstrated in the use of technologies of religious discipline such as annotated prayer calendars, which invite participants to inhabit multiple coexisting temporalities. It is further suggested that when enacted this evangelical urbanism constitutes a form of urban praxis, enabling projects of emplacement that respond to larger forces that are seen otherwise to limit grassroots agency. Among the wider implications of this discussion is the observation that evangelical revivals, despite their well-known emphasis on individual salvation and millennialist fervor, are oriented toward and engaged with situated social realities of the ‘here and now,’ including the rhythms of daily life in modern cities.
Hein, Emily Jane Carter. 2013. The Semiotics of Diaspora: Language Ideologies and Coptic Orthodox Christianity in Berlin, Germany. Doctoral Dissertation, Dept. of Anthropology. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan.
Abstract: The dissertation is based on field research in Coptic Orthodox Church congregations in Germany, where Copts are living after emigration from Egypt. The data for the study are drawn from participant-observation, interviews, and recordings in these communities and include analysis of texts collected during fieldwork. The focus is on Copts’ ideologies of language in the diaspora, where their linguistic repertoires – Coptic (sacred language of religious texts), Arabic (most community members’ first language, spoken within the home or with other Copts), and German (language of the new location) – are being reconfigured. The dissertation has these main arguments: (1) in the liturgy and in its textual representations, the three languages are being interpreted as in a temporal progression, in which Arabic – devalued for its association with Islam and Arabs– is to be replaced by German, although there are some tensions surrounding this as yet incomplete process; (2) Copts are making a rhetorical effort, and (in effect) sociological project, to be identified with whites, Europe, and Christendom (seen as overlapping categories), thus evading German anti-immigrant prejudice and becoming part of the majority. This identification entails a semiotics of temporality as well, in the assertion that Christ came “out of Egypt” (as, more recently, did the Copts) – thus Egypt is to be included as the root domain of Christianity, rather than excluded from it because of its Muslim majority. This narrated past is part of Copts’ claim to inclusion in the (future) ecumene of Christianity. The author contends that the temporal progression implicit in the language shift in progress (1) can be seen as part of this wider semiotics of temporality (2). The present work contributes to debates on diaspora and the narrative construction of time and space. Its central themes of language ideologies, code repertoires, and textuality and performance are important topics in linguistic anthropology, the anthropology of Christianity and the anthropology of the Middle East and Europe. Detailing how Copts in the diaspora bring to life a dead language, while enthusiastically shifting to German, the dissertation is an ethnography of language contact and language shift.
Rio, Knut and Annelin Eriksen. 2013. Missionaries, Healing, and Sorcery in Melanesia: A Scottish Evangelist in Ambrym Island, Vanuata. History and Anthropology 24(3).
Abstract: Melanesian people have recently become highly occupied with history as an arena for moral scrutiny and causal explanations for contemporary failures. On the island of Ambrym in Vanuatu, this form of ontological worry goes back to the first missionaries on the island, the Murray brothers. This article takes us back to events in the 1880s when the missionaries were active on Ambrym, and searches into their social position. Drawing on the diary of Charles Murray, the main argument unfolds around his involvement in the realm of men’s ritual powers, how he himself played his part as a highly knowledgeable magician and how his downfall came about by challenging a manly realm of knowledge and power and his wider inclusion of women and lesser men in his church.
McGovern, Mike. 2012. Turning the Clock Back or Breaking with the Past?: Charismatic Temporality and Elite Politics in Côte d’Ivoire and the United States. Cultural Anthropology. 27(2):239-260.
The article explores the forms of punctuated time that characterize evangelical discourse in both Côte d’Ivoire and the United States. It compares forms of punctuated time that not only form the basis of End Times theology in both places, but have also served as the basis of important lobbying networks. Though evangelical politics in each place has different roots, both are linked by populist anti-immigrant and Islamophobic rhetoric. Most importantly, I argue, the shared structure of eschataological temporality shapes the elective affinities that brought together such strange bedfellows as Pat Robertson and Laurent Gbagbo.
Coleman, Simon. 2011. “Right Now!”: Historiopraxy and the Embodiment of Charismatic Temporalities. Ethnos 76(4): 426-447.
Abstract: I focus on the experience of time and perception of history within the Word of Life charismatic ministry in Sweden, demonstrating the mutual implication of the physical and the temporal, the biographical and the historical, in members’ lives. While conversion draws on a personal frame of reference in relation to the passage of time, spiritualised temporality can also be given a more ambitious frame, incorporating major events that might lead to Christ’s return. Believers wrestle with at least two ways of dealing with history. One pertains to a mimetic relation to previous action: invoking history. The other involves the articulation of something discontinuous and new, an ‘event’ that moves towards the ultimate salvationist and transformative aims of the faith: making history. Both raise the question of how novelty can be invoked through deploying cultural resources that, seemingly paradoxically, recall actions taken in the past – a process I term ‘historiopraxy’.
Klaver, Miranda and Linda van de Kamp. 2011. Embodied Temporalities in Global Pentecostal Conversion. Ethnos 76(4).
Abstract: The body is one of the most discussed topics in current studies of religion and society. Pentecostalism displays a remarkable sensorial and experiential form of religion and is therefore a most interesting domain to study the intersection of religion and embodiment. To avoid the pitfall of taking the feeling body for granted as a prime phenomenological reality, this thematic issue elaborates on the explicit strategies through which the religious body is formed in different societies. The dynamics of becoming and remaining a religious convert are displayed through a focus on the three specific interrelated issues of time, spirits and the subject.