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BEYOND CONVERSION AND SYNCRETISM

Indigenous Encounters with Missionary Christianity, 1800-2000

Edited by David Lindenfeld and Miles Richardson

328 pages, 12 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-0-85745-217-7 $99.00/£60.00 Hb Published (October 2011)

eISBN 978-0-85745-218-4 eBook


Hb
 

Through its historical exploration of the conceptual trajectories of conversion and syncretism, this book is an important theoretical addition to the library of any specialist or student of religion. Furthermore, the empirical examples on which the different contributions are rich, varied and amply engage the reader with a wide variety of historical and geographical contexts. This is a great book to delve into, especially for those interested in conversion.  ·  Social Anthropology/Anthropologie sociale

“…offers some interesting and useful ethnographic material on the diversity of the missionary experience. It certainly proves its point that ‘conversion’ and ‘syncretism’ cannot be assumed to occur at all, let alone to occur in the same way in all times and places.”  ·  Anthropology Review Database

The volume delights by its broad geographical and denominational range…[it] offers a wealth of material for those interested in missionary and cultural encounters, conversion and the processes of domestication of Christianity. It also forms thought-provoking reading for scholars and students of historical and present-day Christianity.”  ·  Anthropological Notebooks

"Meticulously researched, impeccably learned, and lucidly written, these essays push us to revisit the notions of ‘conversion’ and ‘syncretism’ as historical and theological interpretative categories of missions history. Thanks to the editors' and the contributors' labor we can now see why these two categories are much more complex and multidimensional than commonly assumed. No future history of Christian missions can afford ignoring this volume.”  ·  Peter C. Phan, Georgetown University

This is an excellent collection on topics of considerable current interest to scholars in history, anthropology and religious studies…a fine, nuanced collection of highly focused essays.  ·  Norman Etherington, University of Western Australia

The globalization of Christianity, its spread and appeal to peoples of non- European origin, is by now a well-known phenomenon. Scholars increasingly realize the importance of natives rather than foreign missionaries in the process of evangelization. This volume contributes to the understanding of this process through case studies of encounters with Christianity from the perspectives of the indigenous peoples who converted. More importantly, by exploring overarching, general terms such as conversion and syncretism and by showing the variety of strategies and processes that actually take place, these studies lead to a more nuanced understanding of cross-cultural religious interactions in general—from acceptance to resistance—thus enriching the vocabulary of religious interaction. The contributors tackle these issues from a variety of disciplinary perspectives—history, anthropology, religious studies—and present a broad geographical spread of cases from China, Vietnam, Australia, India, South and West Africa, North and Central America, and the Caribbean.

David Lindenfeld is Professor of History at Louisiana State University. Trained as a Europeanist, he has published The Practical Imagination: The German Sciences of State in the Nineteenth Century (University of Chicago Press, 1997), and coedited with Suzanne Marchand Germany at the Fin de Siècle: Culture, Politics, and Ideas (LSU Press, 2004).

Miles Richardson was Professor Emeritus in the Department of Geography and Anthropology at Louisiana State University. His most recent book was Being-in-Christ and Putting Death in its Place: An Anthropologist’s Account of Christian Performance in Spanish America and the American South (LSU Press, 2003). Since his retirement he had been retooling himself as a biological anthropologist and was working on a book tentatively titled Hominid Evolution: The Trajectory of You and Me, coauthored with Julia Hanebrink.


LC: BV2120.B49 2012

BL: YC.2012.a.14869

BISAC: HIS000000 HISTORY/General; SOC002010 SOCIAL SCIENCE/Anthropology/Cultural; REL000000 RELIGION/General

BIC: HRCX7 Christian mission & evangelism; HBLW 20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000



Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments

Introduction. Beyond Conversion and Syncretism
David Lindenfeld & Miles Richardson

PART I. CONVERSION AND ITS COMPLEXITIES

Chapter 1. Conversion, Translation, and Life-History in Colonial Central India
Saurabh Dube

Chapter 2. Conversion at the Boundaries of Religion, Identity, and Politics in Pluricultural Guatemala
C. Mathews Samson

Chapter 3. Christian Soldiers, Christian Allies: Coercion and Conversion in Southern Africa and Northeastern America at the Turn of the Nineteenth Century
Elizabeth Elbourne

Chapter 4. Horton’s “Intellectualist Theory” of Conversion, Reflected on by a South Asianist
Richard Fox Young

PART II. SYNCRETISM AND ITS ALTERNATIVES

Chapter 5. Santa Barbara Africana: Beyond Syncretism in Cuba
Joseph Murphy

Chapter 6. Inculturation, Mission, and Dialogue in Vietnam: The Conference of Representatives of the Four Religions
Anh Q. Tran

Chapter 7. Concentration of Spirituality: The Taiping and the Aladura Compared
David Lindenfeld

Chapter 8. Acculturation and Gendered Conversion: Afro-American Catholic Women in New Orleans, 1726-1884
Sylvia Frey

Chapter 9. Colonial Constructs and Cross-Cultural Interaction: Comparing Missionary/Indigenous Encounters in Northwestern America and Eastern Australia
Anne Keary

Selected Bibliography
Notes on Contributors

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