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SIEF2011 10th Congress: Lisbon, Portugal.
17-21 April 2011

(P228)

Religion: dynamics on the move

Location Tower B, Piso 5, Aud. 3
Date and Start Time 19 Apr, 2011 at 11:30

Convenors

Clara Saraiva (FLUL, University of Lisbon) email
Ramon Sarró (University of Oxford) email
Susana Viegas (Institute of Social Sciences, University of Lisbon) email
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Short Abstract

This panel will analyse the expansion of religions developed in different areas of the world, and the way in which they follow the various diasporas, relating this to the analysis of religious transnationalism and questions of multi-sited ethnography, to see how people and religion 'make places'.

Long Abstract

Religions have accompanied immigrants in their movements South-North, (but not only) as they make and re-make their places in the diaspora. In the Americas, religions of African origin have engendered complex intercontinental and transatlantic dialogues—such as the case of religions of African origin that developed in the Americas (Umbanda and Candomblé in Brazil, Santeria Cubana, Vodu in Haiti, etc). Coming also from the Americas (Brazil, USA), Evangelical, Pentecostal and neo-Pentecostal churches have spread across the Atlantic and have acquired their place within the religious field. Other religions have come from Africa as prophetic movements (such is the case of kimbanguism and takoism from Congo). These 'religious movements' often have implications at the civil and political level.

In this panel we will discuss and analyse the case of the expansion of religions formed and developed in different areas of the world, and the way in which they follow the various diasporas, relating this expansion to the analysis of religious transnationalism and questions of multi-sited ethnography. We will accept papers that expand on such themes, based on ethnography, or papers directed at a more theoretical reflection on the phenomena of migration and religion, in an attempt to look at how 'people make places' in a religious way.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

The different ways of being Zion in Maputo, Mozambique

Author: Giulia Cavallo (ICS - University of Lisbon)  email
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Short Abstract

Zion Church is a transnational phenomenon in Southern Africa. Today is one of the most relevant religious movements in southern Mozambique. This paper will show the different realities of the “work of Zion” and interpretations of local cosmologies in Maputo city, Mozambique.

Long Abstract

In the paper I will analyze the healing practices of the churches I observed during my fieldwork in 2010 occurring in the Zion Church in Maputo and Matola.

Zion Church is a transnational phenomenon spread in South Africa at the beginning of XXth century within the process of evangelization conducted by North American preachers.

Nowadays, the Zion church, whose principal characteristic is that of healing and exorcising evil spirits through the Holy Ghost's force, is one of the most popular religious movements in southern Mozambique, although it is often depicted as the religion of the marginalized people.

In Maputo, Zion church is a heterogenic reality; each church has, in fact, its peculiar way of healing and bargaining with spirits. In the the urban context, being a Zion implies different ways of experiencing the world, coping with spirits, reworking the past, and interpreting local cosmologies.

In this context, the Holy Ghost is just one of the many healing spirits helping people to restore their life.

I will discuss how church members, leaders, prophets and patients come to terms with affliction, interpreting it and manipulating the world of the ancestors and spirits.

I will show how the healing process among Zion Church is a long negotiation of meanings between prophets and patients, through which they attempt to manage and, at the same time, exploit a "heathen" past. This memory of the past, embodied in evil spirits, is experienced as a dangerous legacy which may threaten people life, provoking poverty and family problems.

Global Christian network, cross-border evangelism and nationalism among the Naga of northeast India

Author: Vibha Joshi (Tuebingen University/University of Oxford)  email
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Short Abstract

The paper will explore global religious networks, cross-border connections and how these are related to the Christian identity and nationalism among the Naga of northeast India.

Long Abstract

The paper will explore the global network of Christianity, cross border evangelistic mission and nationalism among the Naga of northeastern India. Christianity was introduced in the (erstwhile) Naga Hills by the American Baptist Missionaries in the late nineteenth century. Presently Christianity is regarded by the Nagas themselves as a feature which distinguishes them from neighbouring Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist populations. The slogan 'Nagaland for Christ' by Naga nationalists in recent years further promotes this identity and seeks global support. The Indian state of Nagaland is projected as a Christian state with English as its state language.

The Naga Baptist have set up Nagaland Missionary Movement (NMM), a denominational Mission organization under the NBCC, with a goal of sending 100,000 Naga evangelists to spread the 'word of Christ' in all parts of the world. NMM have missionaries in many parts of India and outside India in Nepal, Cambodia, Thailand, and Burma. In recent years Naga missionaries are being trained by Korean evangelical missions and are being sponsored as evangelists to neighbouring states in India as well as across the border in Burma, Thailand and China.

Religion in the family: the transmission of religious practices among Muslim families in Denmark

Author: Marianne Holm Pedersen (Danish Folklore Archives at the Royal Danish Library)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper will explore how Muslim families in a Danish provincial town practice Islam in the interface between local conditions and transnational relations. In particular, it will focus on the impact of the families’ encounters with Danish institutions and how the transmission of religion may differ between city and province.

Long Abstract

While a number of studies have explored the religious beliefs and practices of so-called second generation Muslim immigrants in Europe, little attention has been given to the ways in which their parents use religion to make place in a new social and cultural setting. Contrary to other regional contexts where studies have highlighted e.g. processes of religious syncretism, analyses of Islam among first generation immigrants in Europe tend to prioritize the transnational or global dimensions of religious practice and focus less on how this may also be influenced by the local context.

This paper will explore how Muslim families in a Danish provincial town practice Islam in the interface between local conditions and transnational relations. Comparing the first results from an ongoing research project with previous ethnographic research on religious transmission among Arab families in Copenhagen, the paper will investigate how the parents attempt to transmit religious beliefs and practices to their children in Denmark. In particular, it will focus on the impact of the families' encounters with Danish institutions such as kindergartens and schools, how the transmission of religion may differ between city and province, and the ways in which parents negotiate religious transmission in relation to both local and transnational social contexts. The preliminary analysis shows that, although the parents themselves view their religious beliefs, practices and traditions as continuities in their lives, they are continually reconstructed in relation to the new socio-cultural context in which they are carried out.

Localized deterritorialization? The case of the glocalization of Tibetan Buddhism

Author: Lionel Obadia (Université Lyon 2)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper aims at describing and discussing the complex relationship between flow and space in the globalization of Tibetan Buddhism which is both "in motion" and "relocated" outside Asia, compelling to a theoretical shift towards network analysis.

Long Abstract

While spreading worldwide, Buddhism has become a "flowing" and "deterritorialized" religion, subjected to diverse modes of expansion (migration, mission, export). Buddhism therefore could perfectly epitomize a model of the contemporary globalizing religions. The dynamics of the Buddhist spread (especially Westward) is however also characterized by territorialization processes, especially in the case of building temples and establishing cultic sites, but (sacred) territory is also a crucial symbolic reference in the imagination of Buddhist followers. On the basis on multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork (in Nepal and France), this papers aims at reframing methodological and theoretical issues of flows and space in the study of religion in Globalization: the case of Tibetan Buddhism, spreading from Asia to the West, and from the West to the West, epitomizes processes of Glocalization, since Tibetan traditions are inflected by local (social and cultural) influences. It also impels for a revision of the modes of "making places", and a reconciliation between the concepts of flow and space: the concept of network dynamics enables to do so.

Buddhism and its trust networks between Taiwan, Malaysia, and the United States

Author: C. Julia Huang (National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper examines the role of local networks in Malaysia in facilitating the expansion of a Taiwanese Buddhist movement in Southeast Asia. The development of in Malaysia parallels the history of the United States division. The parallel shows the dynamics of “para-temple” networks across space.

Long Abstract

This paper examines the role of local networks in Malaysia in facilitating the expansion of a Taiwanese Buddhist movement in Southeast Asia. The development in Malaysia parallels the history of the United States division through local Buddhist networks.

Originating in Taiwan in the 1960s, the Buddhist Tzu Chi (Ciji) Foundation is a lay Buddhist humanitarian movement under the monastic leadership of the Venerable Cheng Yen (Zhengyan), a three-time nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize. The movement claims ten million members in over 100 countries. The Malacca branch is one of 126 establishments of TC among twenty-eight countries worldwide. The branch operates on a nearly 100% local constituency, and engages community residents at various levels of welfare-delivery activities.

How did a Taiwanese Buddhist movement find and forge networks for volunteer mobilization in Malaysia? The development of TC in Malacca illustrates the possibility of turning transnational capital flow into religious missionaries, by tapping into local Buddhist networks, and finally forming a transnational pilgrimage route to the charismatic center in Taiwan.

This paper will analyze how a Taiwanese Buddhist faith-based organization made and transformed inter-Asian networks. The analysis will draw upon fieldwork in Malacca and provide a comparative ethnography of TC's early development in New York and Boston. I will argue that the combination of transnational and local Buddhist networks suggests the dynamics of differentiation and merger among "para-temple" networks over time and across space.

Non-governmental activity in Brazil: reduction of inequalities or missionary work?

Author: Suzana Ramos Coutinho (Mackenzie University)  email
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Short Abstract

This essay aims to provide an ethnographic approach for understanding how Soka Gakkai creates innovative strategies of accommodation into a specific religious field, presenting themselves in Brazil primarily as a NGO rather than as a religious group.

Long Abstract

Soka Gakkai International ("International Value- Creation Society"; also, SGI) is a lay Buddhist movement that was founded in 1930 by a Japanese educator, Tsuneaburo Makiguchi (1871-1944) and has now over 12 million members in 190 countries. The International Association Brazil Soka Gakkai (port. Associção Brasil Soka Gakkai Internacional- BSGI), the Brazilian umbrella organization of SGI was founded in 1960 by its president Daisaku Ikeda and since then has been expanding in the whole country. Their strategy of insertion and recruitment of new members in the Brazilian society, nevertheless, is given through the construction of their identity as an NGO, and not as a religious group.

This essay aims to provide an ethnographic approach for understanding how Soka Gakkai creates innovative strategies of accommodation into a specific religious field, presenting themselves in Brazil primarily as a NGO rather than as a religious group. This article intends to show the ambiguous strategies of a group that tries to answer to some of the necessities of a country laid in immense social inequalities but, at the same time, uses this process as an indirect practice of proselytism. Although Buddhist groups rarely proselytize, Soka Gakkai has invested in marketing strategies and plans of action to recruit and maintain members.

Tribe, religion and politics in Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa, North-West Pakistan

Author: Ana Razzaq  email
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Short Abstract

This paper is a result of a reflection on a research project undergoing in Peshawar, Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa, Pakistan. We propose here an analysis of the religious involvement and participation in saint's shrines (Sufism) in Peshawar taking in consideration a complex system – tribe, land tenure, politics and religion. This participation might prove to be an importance element to understand the local politics and therefore this analysis will assist us likewise, in the comprehension of the current political situation and religious configuration in the region. Moreover, we will proceed to a reflexion on the socio-political organization of the Pukhtun system – especially, in the role of Saints –, having in consideration not only the complexity of the system but also, how this type of analysis and system might be extended to the outside of the Swat Valley (on which much of the anthropological literature produced focus in).

Long Abstract

As Akbar Ahmed referred in a recent interview, Anthropology (and other Social Sciences) might be a powerful tool in the insight into the current situation in the region (Ahmed, 2009). Despite the starting point in this research focus on an analysis of women, one of my original goals tied with an exploration of the current politico-religious situation in the region and mutations occurred. They are some distinctions between the Federal Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the Settled Areas of the Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa. We should have in mind that the majority of the literature produced concerns the Tribal Areas - Swat Valley, Chitral, and Dir - rather than the settled areas of the province. This fact brings quite differences given that the system of social organization in large urban centers such as Peshawar, where the multi-ethnic composition and the territorial and ecologic disposition, transforms our field of analysis. However, Peshawar is also an example of a "border world‟ between these two areas, though in the southern outskirts of the city, the Tribal territory begins.

The shrines (dargahs) are used as place for prayers and personal supplications, regarding diseases, infertility and poverty (Barth, 1980 [1959]) and they personify an important site in the Pakistani religious landscape (and in the Afghan landscape as well7).

Controversial rights: Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus - IURD) in Brazil and reproductive rights

Author: Jacqueline Moraes-Teixeira (Universidade de São Paulo)  email
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Short Abstract

None provided.

Long Abstract

This research is an anthropological analysis of the parts played by some religious agencies in the production of a public sphere of rights. The scope of the analysis is the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus - IURD) and its relation with the production of new foundations concerning the reproductive rights, including the prominent theme of abortion.

The research aims to contemplate two lines of analysis: the position of IURD in the production of public controversies, creating quarrels and political associations that consolidate themselves through legislative actions, utilizing as a specific case the way the church founder wields arguments in the defense of the legalization of abortion; and the discourse production of a lifeworld that ensures the making of new controversies, this time based on the rituals of IURD around the prescriptions regarding marriage and birth rate. It is intended to demonstrate through an ethnographic study of the ritual practices of the church that the production of a controversy occurs within the scope of practice. That is, the controversies would be discourse representations objectified through the formation of a body that makes the discourses to circulate. Therefore, a controversy in the religion field, based in the formulation of favorable law projects concerning the legalization of abortion, wouldn't be reduced to speech of a religious agency, but is constituted also by embodied forms, represented in the ritual practice of woman who attend the church.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.