Catholic Italy is a destination for migrants from Nigeria and Ghana, who bring their own form of Christianity—Pentecostalism, the most Protestant of Christian faiths. At the heart of Annalisa Butticci’s ethnography is a paradox. Believers on both sides are driven by a desire to find sensuous, material ways to make the divine visible and tangible.
Center: Ideas and Institutions
Edited by Liah Greenfeld and Michel Martin University of Chicago Press, 1988 Library of Congress HM24.C37 1988 | Dewey Decimal 306
There are several concepts within the social sciences that refer to the fundamental realities on which the various disciplines focus their attention. The concept of the "center," as defined by Edward Shils, has such a status in sociology, for it deals with and attempts to provide an answer to the central question of the discipline—the question of the constitution of society.
"Center" is a commonly used term with a variety of meanings. According to editors Liah Greenfeld and Michel Martin, "center" carries a twofold meaning when used as a concept. In its first sense, it is a synonym for "central value system," referring to irreducible values and beliefs that establish the identity of individuals and bind them into a common universe. In its second sense, "center" refers to "central institutional system," the authoritative institutions and persons who often express or embody the central value system. Both meanings imply a corresponding idea of "periphery," referring both to the elements of society that need to be integrated and to institutions and persons who lack authority.
The original essays compiled in this volume examine and apply the concept of the center in different contexts. The contributors come from a broad range of disciplines—classics, religion, philosophy, history, literary criticism, anthropology, political science, and sociology—which serves to underscore the far-reaching significance of the Shilsean theory of society. The interrelated subsets of the "center-periphery" theme addressed here include: symbolic systems, intellectuals, the expansion of the center into the periphery, parallel concepts in the work of other scholars besides Shils, and the paths of research inspired by these concepts. The volume features an introspective essay by Shils himself, in which he reexamines his central ideas in the light of new experiences and the ideas of others, some of them contained in this volume.
By drawing together such diverse scholars around a unified idea, this collection achieves a cohesion that makes it an exciting contribution to the comparative analysis of social and cultural systems. A collective effort in social theory, Center: Ideas and Institutions is a testimony to the breadth and complexity of one of man's ideas.
One of the great intellectual battles of modern times is between evolution and religion. Until now, they have been considered completely irreconcilable theories of origin and existence. David Sloan Wilson's Darwin's Cathedral takes the radical step of joining the two, in the process proposing an evolutionary theory of religion that shakes both evolutionary biology and social theory at their foundations.
The key, argues Wilson, is to think of society as an organism, an old idea that has received new life based on recent developments in evolutionary biology. If society is an organism, can we then think of morality and religion as biologically and culturally evolved adaptations that enable human groups to function as single units rather than mere collections of individuals? Wilson brings a variety of evidence to bear on this question, from both the biological and social sciences. From Calvinism in sixteenth-century Geneva to Balinese water temples, from hunter-gatherer societies to urban America, Wilson demonstrates how religions have enabled people to achieve by collective action what they never could do alone. He also includes a chapter considering forgiveness from an evolutionary perspective and concludes by discussing how all social organizations, including science, could benefit by incorporating elements of religion.
Religious believers often compare their communities to single organisms and even to insect colonies. Astoundingly, Wilson shows that they might be literally correct. Intended for any educated reader, Darwin's Cathedral will change forever the way we view the relations among evolution, religion, and human society.
Religion is not a popular target for economic analysis. Yet the economist’s tools offer insights into how religious groups compete, deliver social services, and reach out to converts—how religions nurture and deploy market power. Sriya Iyer puts these tools to use in an expansive study of India, one of the world’s most religiously diverse nations.
The Edge of Surrealism is an essential introduction to the writing of French social theorist Roger Caillois. Caillois was part of the Surrealist avant-garde and in the 1930s founded the College of Sociology with Georges Bataille and Michel Leiris. He spent his life exploring issues raised by this famous group and by Surrealism itself. Though his subjects were diverse, Caillois focused on concerns crucial to modern intellectual life, and his essays offer a unique perspective on many of twentieth-century France’s most significant intellectual movements and figures. Including a masterful introductory essay by Claudine Frank situating his work in the context of his life and intellectual milieu, this anthology is the first comprehensive introduction to Caillois’s work to appear in any language.
These thirty-two essays with commentaries strike a balance between Caillois’s political and theoretical writings and between his better known works, such as the popular essays on the praying mantis, myth, and mimicry, and his lesser-known pieces. Presenting several new pieces and drawing on interviews and unpublished correspondence, this book reveals Caillois’s consistent effort to reconcile intellectual rigor and imaginative adventure. Perhaps most importantly, The Edge of Surrealism provides an overdue look at how Caillois’s intellectual project intersected with the work of Georges Bataille and others including Breton, Bachelard, Benjamin, Lacan, and Lévi-Strauss.
In 2011, Trinidad declared a state of emergency. This massive state intervention lasted for 108 days and led to the rounding up of over 7,000 people in areas the state deemed “crime hot spots.” The government justified this action and subsequent police violence on the grounds that these measures were restoring “the rule of law.” In this milieu of expanded policing powers, protests occasioned by police violence against lower-class black people have often garnered little sympathy. But in an improbable turn of events, six officers involved in the shooting of three young people were charged with murder at the height of the state of emergency. To explain this, the host of Crime Watch, the nation’s most popular television show, alleged that there must be a special power at work: obeah.
From eighteenth-century slave rebellions to contemporary responses to police brutality, Caribbean methods of problem-solving “spiritual work” have been criminalized under the label of “obeah.” Connected to a justice-making force, obeah remains a crime in many parts of the anglophone Caribbean. In Experiments with Power, J. Brent Crosson addresses the complex question of what obeah is. Redescribing obeah as “science” and “experiments,” Caribbean spiritual workers unsettle the moral and racial foundations of Western categories of religion. Based on more than a decade of conversations with spiritual workers during and after the state of emergency, this book shows how the reframing of religious practice as an experiment with power transforms conceptions of religion and law in modern nation-states.
Edited by Martin E. Marty and R. Scott Appleby University of Chicago Press, 1995 Library of Congress BL238.F83 1991 vol. 5 | Dewey Decimal 291.0904
In this fifth volume of the Fundamentalism Project, Fundamentalisms Comprehended, the distinguished contributors return to and test the endeavor's beginning premise: that fundamentalisms in all faiths share certain "family resemblances." Several of the essays reconsider the project's original definition of fundamentalism as a reactive, absolutist, and comprehensive mode of anti-secular religious activism. The book concludes with a capstone statement by R. Scott Appleby, Emmanuel Sivan, and Gabriel Almond that builds upon the entire Fundamentalism Project. Identifying different categories of fundamentalist movements, and delineating four distinct patterns of fundamentalist behavior toward outsiders, this statement provides an explanatory framework for understanding and comparing fundamentalisms around the world.
French and German tourists join Mexican migrant workers to venerate the image of the Virgin Mary at a strip mall in Florida; Latino gang members, deported from the United States to home countries they barely know, find Jesus in transnational churches; U.S. evangelicals use electronic media to preach a “neo liberal” gospel of wealth and health to landless peasants in remote indigenous villages in Guatemala. These are just some examples of how religion in the Americas today intersects in complex ways with the economic, political, and cultural dimensions of globalization.
Drawing on case studies in the United States and Latin America, Manuel A. Vásquez and Marie Friedmann Marquardt explore the evolving roles of religion in the Americas in the face of globalization, transnational migration, the rapid growth of culture industries, the rise of computer mediated technologies, and the crisis of modernity. Combining ethnographic research in local congregations, studies of material culture and sacred space, textual analyses, and approaches to mass and electronic media, the authors challenge dominant paradigms in sociology of religion, such as the secularization and rational choice models. Further, the book offers alternative theoretical and methodological tools to understand the increasing complexity of religious life in the Americas.
By illustratingthe challenges that scholars and students must confront in order to understand the complexity of today’s religious landscape, Globalizing the Sacred makes both important theoretical and methodological contributions to the study of religion’s role in social change.
In the Roman and Byzantine Near East, the holy fool emerged in Christianity as a way of describing individuals whose apparent madness allowed them to achieve a higher level of spirituality. Youval Rotman examines how the figure of the mad saint or mystic was used as a means of individual and collective transformation prior to the rise is Islam.
Man and the Sacred
Roger Caillois University of Illinois Press, 1959 Library of Congress BL60.C313 2001 | Dewey Decimal 306.6
Throughout the world, people believe that much of what they do is accidental, ordinary, and inconsequential, while other acts can bring on divine retribution or earn eternal grace. In Man and the Sacred, Caillois demonstrates how humanity's ambiguous attitude toward the sacred influences behavior and culture.
Drawing on a diverse array of ethnographic contexts, including the sexual rituals of the Ba-Thong of South Africa and evidence drawn from aboriginal Australian, Eskimo, and traditional Chinese social systems, Caillois analyzes the role of the forbidden in the social cohesion of the group. He examines the character of the sacred in the light of specific instances of taboos and transgressions, exploring wide differences in attitudes toward diet and sex and extreme behaviors associated with the sacred, such as rapture and paroxysm. He also discusses the festival--an exuberant explosion following a period of strict repression--and compares its functions with those of modern war.
A classic study of one of the most fundamental aspects of human social and spiritual life, Man and the Sacred--presented here in Meyer Barash's superb English translation--is a companion volume to Caillois's Man, Play and Games.
American spirituality—with its focus on individual meaning, experience, and exploration—is usually thought to be a product of the postmodern era. But, as The New Metaphysicals makes clear, contemporary American spirituality has historic roots in the nineteenth century and a great deal in common with traditional religious movements. To explore this world, Courtney Bender combines research into the history of the movement with fieldwork in Cambridge, Massachusetts—a key site of alternative religious inquiry from Emerson and William James to today. Through her ethnographic analysis, Bender discovers that a focus on the new, on progress, and on the way spiritual beliefs intersect with science obscures the historical roots of spirituality from its practitioners and those who study it alike—and shape an enduring set of modern religious possibilities in the process.
In this compelling look at second-generation Indian Americans, Khyati Y. Joshi draws on case studies and interviews with forty-one second-generation Indian Americans, analyzing their experiences involving religion, race, and ethnicity from elementary school to adulthood. As she maps the crossroads they encounter as they navigate between their homes and the wider American milieu, Joshi shows how their identities have developed differently from their parents’ and their non-Indian peers’ and how religion often exerted a dramatic effect.
The experiences of Joshi’s research participants reveal how race and religion interact, intersect, and affect each other in a society where Christianity and whiteness are the norm. Joshi shows how religion is racialized for Indian Americans and offers important insights in the wake of 9/11 and the backlash against Americans who look Middle Eastern and South Asian.
Through her candid insights into the internal conflicts contemporary Indian Americans face and the religious and racial discrimination they encounter, Joshi provides a timely window into the ways that race, religion, and ethnicity interact in day-to-day life.
“Grieve well and you grow stronger.” Anthropologist Rebecca Louise Carter heard this wisdom over and over while living in post-Katrina New Orleans, where everyday violence disproportionately affects Black communities. What does it mean to grieve well? How does mourning strengthen survivors in the face of ongoing threats to Black life?
Inspired by ministers and guided by grieving mothers who hold birthday parties for their deceased sons, Prayers for the People traces the emergence of a powerful new African American religious ideal at the intersection of urban life, death, and social and spiritual change. Carter frames this sensitive ethnography within the complex history of structural violence in America—from the legacies of slavery to free but unequal citizenship, from mass incarceration and overpolicing to social abandonment and the unequal distribution of goods and services. And yet Carter offers a vision of restorative kinship by which communities of faith work against the denial of Black personhood as well as the violent severing of social and familial bonds. A timely directive for human relations during a contentious time in America’s history, Prayers for the People is also a hopeful vision of what an inclusive, nonviolent, and just urban society could be.
In The Protestant Ethic Revisited, pioneering sociologist Philip Gorski revisits the question raised by Max Weber in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism about how the Christian West was reshaped by world-changing energies of the Calvinist movement. Gorski not only considers the perennial debate about religion and capitalism, but he also devotes particular attention to the influence of Calvinism on the political development of the West.
The Protestant Ethic Revisited is a masterful new collection of Gorski's essays on religion and comparative historical sociology. Reflecting the aim of much of Gorski's work, this anthology shows how nationalism, secularism, politics, and religion in public life are either older—or less stable—than previously thought.
In a sweeping reconsideration of the relation between religion and modernity, Jose Casanova surveys the roles that religions may play in the public sphere of modern societies.
During the 1980s, religious traditions around the world, from Islamic fundamentalism to Catholic liberation theology, began making their way, often forcefully, out of the private sphere and into public life, causing the "deprivatization" of religion in contemporary life. No longer content merely to administer pastoral care to individual souls, religious institutions are challenging dominant political and social forces, raising questions about the claims of entities such as nations and markets to be "value neutral", and straining the traditional connections of private and public morality.
Casanova looks at five cases from two religious traditions (Catholicism and Protestantism) in four countries (Spain, Poland, Brazil, and the United States). These cases challenge postwar—and indeed post-Enlightenment—assumptions about the role of modernity and secularization in religious movements throughout the world.
This book expands our understanding of the increasingly significant role religion plays in the ongoing construction of the modern world.
Modern Western thought has traditionally relegated the religious and the secular to two entirely different spheres. Religion and Its Other takes issue with this oversimplified dichotomy, tracing the borders and grey areas between religion and the secular world as conceived of in Christian, Jewish, and Muslim cultures past and present.
A unique collection of theoretically informed historical and anthropological case studies, this comprehensive volume includes discussions of medieval atheism, Egyptian modernization, Jewish mysticism, Lutheran angels, and other such topics. Religion and Its Other will enrich the library of anyone interested in the social construction of religion across the centuries.
For most of the last twenty years, sociologists have studied the “decline” of religion in the modern world—a decline they saw as a defining feature of modernity, which promotes materialism over spirituality. The revival and political strength of varying religious traditions around the world, however, has forced sociologists to reconsider.
This paradox has led Hervieu-Léger to undertake a sociological redefinition and reexamination of religion. For religion to endure in the modern world, she finds, it must have deep roots in traditions and times in which it was not defined as irrelevant. This reasoning leads her to develop the concept of a “chain of memory”—a process by which individual believers become members of a community that links past, present, and future members. Thus, like cultural tradition, religion may be understood as a shared understanding with a collective memory that enables it to draw upon the deep well of its past for nourishment in the increasingly secular present.
Hervieu-Legér also argues that the modern secular societies of the West have not, as is commonly assumed, outgrown or found secular substitutes for religious traditions; nor are they more “rational” than past societies. Rather, modern societies have become “amnesiacs,” no longer able to maintain the chain of memory that binds them to their religious pasts. Ironically, however, even as the modern world is destroying and losing touch with its traditional religious bases, it is also creating the need for a spiritual life and is thus opening up a space that only religion can fill.
Religion, Order, and Law
David Little University of Chicago Press, 1984 Library of Congress BR757.L66 1984 | Dewey Decimal 306.6
"The issue of the Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism has been debated endlessly, but few scholars have seriously continued Weber's own research into the Reformation sources of seventeenth-century England. David Little's study was one of the first to do so, and remains an important contribution."—Guenther Roth, University of Washington
The world’s eyes are on Latin America as a place of radical political inspiration, offering alternatives to the neoliberal model. Religion Without Redemption examines the history of religious and political ideas in Latin America, in order to show how and why the continent’s politics and economics work as they do.
Martínez Andrade focuses on the central role of religion in the region and how it influences people’s interaction with changes in modern economics. Capitalism in Latin America, Martínez Andrade argues, has taken on religious characteristics, with places of worship—shopping malls and department stores—as well as its own prophets. This form of cultural religion is often contradictory in surprising ways: not only does it legitimate oppression, it can also be a powerful source of rebellion, unveiling a subversive side to the status quo. Religion Without Redemption advances the ideas of liberation theory, and challenges the provincialism to which many Latin American thinkers are usually consigned.
After more than 500 years of marginalization, Latin America’s forty million Indians have recently made major strides in gaining political recognition and civil rights. In this book, social scientists explore the important role of religion in indigenous activism, showing the ways that religion has strengthened indigenous identity and contributed to the struggle for indigenous rights in the region.
Drawing on case studies from Bolivia, Peru, Guatemala, Ecuador, Paraguay, and Mexico, the contributors explore four key questions. How have traditional religions interacted with Christianity to produce new practices and beliefs? What resources, motivations, and ideological legitimacies do religious institutions provide for indigenous social movements? How effective are these movements in achieving their goals? Finally, as new religious groups continue to compete for adherents in the region, how will individuals’ religious choices affect political outcomes?
Resurgent Voices in Latin America offers new insight into the dynamics of indigenous social movements and into the complex and changing world of Latin American religions. The essays show that religious beliefs, practices, and institutions have both affected and been affected by political activism.
The Robert Bellah Reader
Robert N. Bellah Duke University Press, 2006 Library of Congress BL60.B38 2006 | Dewey Decimal 306.6
Perhaps best known for his coauthored bestselling books Habits of the Heart and The Good Society, Robert N. Bellah is a truly visionary leader in the social study of religion. For more than four decades, he has examined the role of religion in modern and premodern societies, attempting to discern how religious meaning is formed and how it shapes ethical and political practices. The Robert Bellah Reader brings together twenty-eight of Bellah’s seminal essays. While the essays span a period of more than forty years, nearly half of them were written in the past decade, many in the past few years.
The Reader is organized around four central concerns. It seeks to place modernity in theoretical and historical perspective, drawing from major figures in social science, historical and contemporary, from Aristotle and Rousseau through Durkheim and Weber to Habermas and Mary Douglas. It takes the United States to be in some respects the type-case of modernity and in others the most atypical of modern societies, analyzing its common faith in individual freedom and democratic self-government, and its persistent paradoxes of inequality, exclusion, and empire. The Reader is also concerned to test the axiomatic modern assumption that rational cognition and moral evaluation, fact and value, are absolutely divided, arguing instead that they overlap and interact much more than conventional wisdom in the university today usually admits. Finally, it criticizes modernity’s affirmation that faith and knowledge stand even more utterly at odds, arguing instead that their overlap and interaction, obvious in every premodern society, animate the modern world as well.
Through such critical and constructive inquiry this Reader probes many of our deepest social and cultural quandaries, quandaries that put modernity itself, with all its immense achievements, at mortal risk. Through the practical self-understanding such inquiry spurs, Bellah shows how we may share responsibility for the world we have made and seek to heal it.
Searching for Africa in Brazil is a learned exploration of tradition and change in Afro-Brazilian religions. Focusing on the convergence of anthropologists’ and religious leaders’ exegeses, Stefania Capone argues that twentieth-century anthropological research contributed to the construction of an ideal Afro-Brazilian religious orthodoxy identified with the Nagô (Yoruba) cult in the northeastern state of Bahia. In contrast to other researchers, Capone foregrounds the agency of Candomblé leaders. She demonstrates that they successfully imposed their vision of Candomblé on anthropologists, reshaping in their own interest narratives of Afro-Brazilian religious practice. The anthropological narratives were then taken as official accounts of religious orthodoxy by many practitioners of Afro-Brazilian religions in Brazil. Capone draws on ten years of ethnographic fieldwork in Salvador de Bahia and Rio de Janeiro as she demonstrates that there is no pure or orthodox Afro-Brazilian religion.
Challenging the usual interpretations of Afro-Brazilian religions as fixed entities, completely independent of one another, Capone reveals these practices as parts of a unique religious continuum. She does so through an analysis of ritual variations as well as discursive practices. To illuminate the continuum of Afro-Brazilian religious practice and the tensions between exegetic discourses and ritual practices, Capone focuses on the figure of Exu, the sacred African trickster who allows communication between gods and men. Following Exu and his avatars, she discloses the centrality of notions of prestige and power—mystical and religious—in Afro-Brazilian religions. To explain how religious identity is constantly negotiated among social actors, Capone emphasizes the agency of practitioners and their political agendas in the “return to roots,” or re-Africanization, movement, an attempt to recover the original purity of a mythical and legitimizing Africa.
No writer or public intellectual of our era has been as sensitive to the role of faith in the lives of ordinary Americans as Robert Coles. Though not religious in the conventional sense, Coles is unparalleled in his astute understanding and respect for the relationship between secular life and sacredness, which cuts across his large body of work. Drawing inspiration from figures like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Dorothy Day, and Simone Weil, Coles’s extensive writings explore the tug of war between faith and doubt. As Coles himself admits, the “back-and-forthness between faith and doubt is the story of my life.” These thirty-one thought-provoking essays are drawn from Coles’s weekly column in the Catholic publication America. In them, he turns his inquisitive lens on a range of subjects and issues, from writers and painters to his recent reading and film viewing, contemporary events and lingering controversies, recollections of past and present mentors, events of his own daily life, and ordinary encounters with students, patients, neighbors, and friends. Addressing moral questions openly and honestly with a rare combination of rectitude and authorial modesty, these essays position Coles as a preeminent, durable, and trusted voice in the continuing national conversation over religion, civic life, and moral purpose.
What has happened to the religious left? If there is a religious left, why don't we hear more about it?
The academics and activists who write this rich volume, edited by Rebecca Alpert, argue passionately on topics that concern all of us. Quoting from the Bible, the Torah, the Qur'an, the teachings of Buddha, as well as Native American folklore, they make the voices of the religious left heard -- teaching lessons of peace and liberation.
As this invaluable sourcebook shows, the religious left is committed to issues of human rights and dignity. Answering questions of identity and ideology, the essays included here stem from the "culture wars" that have divided orthodox and liberal believers. Responding to the needs of and raised by marginalized social groups, the writers discuss economic issues and religious politics as they champion equal rights, and promote the teaching of progressive vision.
Containing insightful perspectives of adherents to many faiths, Voices of the Religious Left makes it clear that there is a group dedicated to instilling the values of justice and freedom. They are far from silent.
All of the essays in this collection "...represent the power of the written word as a vehicle for advocacy and social change....It is my hope that the readers of these essays will themselves feel compelled to think more about the importance of taking a stand on issues from religious perspectives, and to act on something that compels them." --Rabbi Rebecca Alpert
In Western Creed, Western Identity, Jude P. Dougherty investigates the classical roots of Western culture and its religious sources in an effort to define its underlying intellectual and spiritual commitments.
Who Owns Religion? focuses on a period—the late 1980s through the 1990s—when scholars of religion were accused of scandalizing or denigrating the very communities they had imagined themselves honoring through their work. While controversies involving scholarly claims about religion are nothing new, this period saw an increase in vitriol that remains with us today. Authors of seemingly arcane studies on subjects like the origins of the idea of Mother Earth or the sexual dynamics of mysticism have been targets of hate mail and book-banning campaigns. As a result, scholars of religion have struggled to describe their own work to their various publics, and even to themselves.
Taking the reader through several compelling case studies, Patton identifies two trends of the ’80s and ’90s that fueled that rise: the growth of multicultural identity politics, which enabled a form of volatile public debate she terms “eruptive public space,” and the advent of the internet, which offered new ways for religious groups to read scholarship and respond publicly. These controversies, she shows, were also fundamentally about something new: the very rights of secular, Western scholarship to interpret religions at all.
Patton’s book holds out hope that scholars can find a space for their work between the university and the communities they study. Scholars of religion, she argues, have multiple masters and must move between them while writing histories and speaking about realities that not everyone may be interested in hearing.