Synopses & Reviews
"Webb Keane's book demonstrates, once again, that nothing illuminates the puzzles of modernity as effectively as cross-cultural studies of colonial encounters. His careful, interdisciplinary, and penetrating analysis of the semiotics of conversion to Dutch Calvinism in the Indonesian island of Sumba and his skillful blending of theological and anthropological issues will make this book a model for studies of religious conversion. It truly deserves a wide readership."and#151;Dipesh Chakrabarty, author of Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference
and#147;Christian Moderns is a wonderful exploration of the boundaries between material things, words, and agents, and the implications of their separation and interconnection for the master trope of modernity. In a rich and challenging analysis, . . . the book shows how a Christian modernity was negotiated and inhabited. The elaborate care with which Keane argues this thesis is truly impressive. I do not know of any other anthropological book on the same theme that can compare with it.and#8221;and#151;Talal Asad, author of Genealogies of Religion: Discipline and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Islam
and#147;Christian Moderns is the kind of book every anthropologist would like to have written. Keane moves easily between the large and small picture: modernism, purification, and Protestantism; a religious conversion or the changing value of meat on the Indonesian island of Sumba. In developing a semiotic ideology, he is able to address at once verbal and material culture, ritual speech and exchange, innerness and sincerity, agency, intentionality and fetishism, and the mutual misrecognitions of the missionary and the and#145;pagan.and#8217; I know of no book that is as sensitive to the embedded, the spiritual, conundra, of religious contact and conversion and yet remains rigorous in argument.and#8221;and#151;Vincent Crapanzano, author of Serving the Word: Literalism in America from the Pulpit to the Bench
and#147;In this remarkable work, Webb Keane juxtaposes European religious disputes with an ethnographic account of Christian conversion in Indonesia. Abiding dilemmas of western social scienceand#151;he arguesand#151;have their source in language ideologies that anthropologists share with the Protestant missionaries who preceded them. Anxieties about objectification, agency, and the erasure of materiality have been crucial to Calvinism. They are no less central to colonial modernization projects and our own logics of inquiry. In lucid prose, Keane builds a powerful argument about semiosis and material life that is sure to stimulate important debate.and#8221;and#151;Susan Gal, co-author of The Politics of Gender After Socialism
Across much of the postcolonial world, Christianity has often become inseparable from ideas and practices linking the concept of modernity to that of human emancipation. To explore these links, Webb Keane undertakes a rich ethnographic study of the century-long encounter, from the colonial Dutch East Indies to post-independence Indonesia, among Calvinist missionaries, their converts, and those who resist conversion. Keane's analysis of their struggles over such things as prayers, offerings, and the value of money challenges familiar notions about agency. Through its exploration of language, materiality, and morality, this book illuminates a wide range of debates in social and cultural theory. It demonstrates the crucial place of Christianity in semiotic ideologies of modernity and sheds new light on the importance of religion in colonial and postcolonial histories.
There is no female religious figure so widely known and revered as the Virgin Mary. Throughout history, Mary has inspired in a multitude of cultures around the world a deep affection, a desire to emulate her virtue, and a strong belief in the power of her apparitions and miracles. Perhaps no population has been so deeply affected by this maternal figure as Filipino Catholics, whose apparitions of Mary have increasingly emerged and responded to recent events, drawing from a broad repertoire of the Catholic supernatural as they draw media attention to the global south.
In Mother Figured, historical anthropologist Deirdre de la Cruz offers a detailed examination of several appearances and miracles of the Virgin Mary in the Philippines from materials and sites ranging from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. By analyzing the effects of the mass media on the perception and proliferation of apparition phenomena, de la Cruz charts the intriguing emergence of new voices in the Philippines that are broadcasting Marian discourse globally. Based on two years of ethnographic fieldwork and hitherto unexplored archives in the Philippines, the United States, and Spain, Mother Figured documents the conditions of Marian devotionandrsquo;s modern development and tracks how it has transformed Filipinosandrsquo; social and political role within the greater Catholic world.
Anthropology has recently seen a lively interest in the subject of ethics and comparative notions of morality and freedom. This masterclass brings together four of the most eminent anthropologists working in this field—Michael Lambek, Veena Das, Didier Fassin, and Webb Keane—to discuss, via lectures and responses, important topics facing anthropological ethics and the theoretical debates that surround it.
The authors explore the ways we understand morality across many different cultural settings, asking questions such as: How do we recognize the ethical in different ethnographic worlds? What constitutes agency and awareness in everyday life? What might an anthropology of ordinary ethics look like? And what happens when ethics approaches the political in both Western and non-Western societies. Contrasting perspectives and methods—and yet in complimentary ways—this masterclass will serve as an essential guide for how an anthropology of ethics can be formulated in the twenty-first century.
About the Author
Michael Lambek is professor of anthropology and a Canada Research Chair at the University of Toronto Scarborough. He is the author of several books, most recently The Weight of the Past, and editor or coeditor of several more, including Ordinary Ethics and A Companion to the Anthropology of Religion.
Veena Das is the Krieger-Eisenhower Professor of Anthropology at Johns Hopkins University. Didier Fassin is the James D. Wolfensohn Professor of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton.Webb Keane is the George Herbert Mead Collegiate Professor in the department of anthropology at the University of Michigan.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
Part I. Locating Protestantism
1. Religionand#8217;s Reach
2. Beliefs, Words, and Selves
3. Religion, Culture, and the Colonies
4. Conversionand#8217;s Histories
Part II. Fetishisms
5. Umbu Nekaand#8217;s Conversion
6. Fetishism and the Word
7. Modern Sincerity
8. Materialism, Missionaries, and Modern Subjects
Part III. Purifications
9. Text, Act, Objectifications
10. Money Is No Object