This module will examine the theme 'Global Christianities' through the lenses of the anthropology of Christianity and the sociology of religion. We will explore the ways in which we can see Christianity as a cultural product, and how Christianity has shaped different cultures and societies globally, as well as how the religion has been shaped by and through encounters in different local settings. We will look at the history of the globalization of Christianity, and consider the historical, political and economic effects of local missionary encounters. The course will examine the processes of conversion to Christianity in different contexts, both at the level of individual and broader social group, and how these have been understood in relation to concepts of 'modernity'.
The course will draw attention to the relatively recent emergence of the anthropology of Christianity in relation to the broader disciplines of anthropology as a discrete area of study and how this relates to the study of Christianity as a global phenomenon within sociology. We will consider the ways in which these disciplines have constructed and objectified 'religion' as an object of study in ways that have historically occluded the social scientific study of Christianity in different global contexts.
The course will address some of the main debates in the anthropology of Christianity, deepening understanding of global Christianities through exploring studies of Christian cultures in diverse ethnographic contexts. The topics addressed may include: culture and conversion; globalization and localisation; interrelations between Christianity, subjectivity and language; embodied and emotional forms of different Christianities; concepts and experiences of God; mediation, immanence and transcendence; coherence and fragmentation; gender, sexuality and the family. Through engaging with readings on these areas, we will explore the socio-religious power-dynamics of Christianity in relation to both culturally dominant and marginal traditions.
Total Contact Hours: 40
Method of assessment
Presentation (10 minutes) – 15%
Critical Reflection Assignment 1 (1,000 words) – 15%
Critical Reflection Assignment 2 (1,000 words) – 15%
Assignment (3,500 words or equivalent depending on chosen format) – 55%
Indicative Reading List
Coleman, S. (2000). The Globalisation of Charismatic Christianity: Spreading the Gospel of Prosperity, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Engelke, M. (2007). A Problem of Presence: Beyond Scripture in an African Church, Berkeley: University of California Press.
Harding, S.F. (2000). The Book of Jerry Falwell: Fundamentalist Language and Politics, Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Keane, W. (2007). Christian Moderns: Freedom and Fetish in the Mission Encounter, Berkeley: University of California Press.
Luhrmann, T. (2012). When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God, New York: Vintage.
Marshall, R. (2009). Political Spiritualities: The Pentecostal Revolution in Nigeria, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Robbins, J. (2004). Becoming Sinners: Christianity and Moral Torment in a Papua New Guinea Society, Berkeley: University of California Press.
See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)
On successfully completing the module both Level 5 and Level 6 students will be able to:
- Demonstrate critical understanding of what it means to approach Christianity as a field of anthropological study, and awareness of why the development of the anthropology of Christianity has been a recent development within the discipline of anthropology;
- Demonstrate critical appreciation of the principal theoretical debates in anthropological and sociological study of global Christianities, e.g. globalization and localization, processes of conversion (in terms of individuals and larger social groups), relations between Christianity and modernity;
- Demonstrate the ability to analyse the interrelations between different global forms of Christianity;
- Show critical understanding of representative forms of contemporary global Christianities in their historical, political, and economic contexts;
- Demonstrate critical understanding of the principal empirical methodologies used within anthropological and sociological approaches to global Christianities, and the ethical, political and epistemological implications of these methods;
- Demonstrate detailed knowledge of how to approach the study of global Christianities through phenomenological, hermeneutic and genealogical methods.
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