The panel will explore the comparative ethnography of Catholicism as a research field in the Anthropology of Religion, investigating the social and political role of the Catholic Church in various societies, as well as individuals' beliefs, practices, and social relationships.
In the Anthropology of Christianity Catholicism has received far less attention than the seemingly more dynamic and rapidly expanding Pentecostal/ Charismatic churches. The workshop seeks to close this gap by inviting presentations that are based on the ethnography study of Catholic communities and the church. We would like to invite all interested in discussing what issues, challenges, and new perspectives "ethnographies of Catholicism" can bring to the anthropology religion. Catholicism is a transnational religion organized in a tightly structured hierarchy. This fact raises questions like: how are the official structure and doctrine lived by Catholics in various setting all over the world? What kinds of relations exist between the national and the transnational dimension of Catholicism? How does the social life of the Catholic Church differ between countries where it is a hegemonic institution and others where it constitutes a minority among other churches or nonbelievers? Focusing on "ethnographies of Catholicism" we want to reflect on the variety of expressions of the Catholic faith in individuals' lives and how cultures of Catholicism can be identified in the practices and experiences of believers. We would also like to discuss contradictions and convergences between "official" and "popular" Catholicism; the implication of the church and Catholic belief in political struggles over domination and resistance; the Catholic discourse on the moral and spiritual crisis of modern civilization; and the church's involvement in social activism and charity work, especially under the contemporary conditions of global economic crisis.