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Seekers and Things: Spiritual Movements and Aesthetic Difference in Kinshasa

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Seekers and Things

Spiritual Movements and Aesthetic Difference in Kinshasa

Peter Lambertz

308 pages, 25 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-669-0 $130.00/£92.00 Hb Published (December 2017)

eISBN 978-1-78533-670-6 eBook

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“This completely original book offers a vivid, innovative perspective on new religions in the postcolonial context of Central Africa. · Filip De Boeck, Institute for Anthroplogical Research in Africa, University of Leuven

“An exceptionally valuable study, addressing an original topic.” · Peter Geschiere, University of Amsterdam


Focusing on the intricate presence of a Japanese new religion (Sekai Kyûseikyô) in the densely populated and primarily Christian environment of Kinshasa (DR Congo), this ethnographic study offers a practitioner-orientated perspective to create a localized picture of religious globalization. Guided by an aesthetic approach to religion, the study moves beyond a focus limited to text and offers insights into the role of religious objects, spiritual technologies and aesthetic repertoires in the production and politics of difference. The boundaries between non-Christian religious minorities and the largely Christian public sphere involve fears and suspicion of "magic" and "occult sciences".

Peter Lambertz is a post-doc fellow at the German Historical Institute (Paris) and the Centre des recherches sur les politiques sociales in Dakar. He holds a joint PhD from the universities of Utrecht and Leipzig (Religious Studies/African Studies) and has been teaching at the Philosophat Edith Stein in Kisangani.

Subject: General Anthropology Religion Refugee & Migration Studies
Area: Africa


List of Illustrations


Chapter 1. ‘Light in the Darkness’: Towards a Congolese Spiritual Movement ‘from Japan’
Chapter 2. Occult Sciences: (il)legitimate Secrecy and the Infrapolitics of Suspicion
Chapter 3. Blossoming Boundaries: (Re-)production and Contestation of Japanese Flower Practices
Chapter 4. Cleansing the City: Touch, Rubbish and Citizenship
Chapter 5. Experiencing Faith: Crisis, Miracles and Spiritual Healing
Chapter 6. (In) Touch without Contact: Johrei and the Aura of the Self
Chapter 7. Vibrating Words: Performative Silence and the Power of Words
Chapter 8. Imported Tradition: ‘Ancestor Worship’ as Reverse Orientalism



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