The limits of meaning : case studies in the anthropology of Christianity



The limits of meaning : case studies in the anthropology of Christianity

edited by Matthew Engelke and Matt Tomlinson

Berghahn Books, 2007

  • : pbk

大学図書館所蔵 件 / 2



First published in hardcover in 2006

Includes bibliographical references and index


  • Meaning, anthropology, Christianity / Matt Tomlinson and Matthew Engelke
  • When silence isn't golden : charismatic speech and the limits of literalism / Simon Coleman
  • Clarity and charisma : on the uses of ambiguity in ritual life / Matthew Engelke
  • Rituals without final acts : prayer and success in World Vision Zimbabwe's humanitarian work / Erica Bornstein
  • Nationalism and millenarianism in West Papua : institutional power, interpretive practice, and the pursuit of Christian truth / Danilyn Rutherford
  • The limits of meaning in Fijian Methodist sermons / Matt Tomlinson
  • Converting meanings and the meanings of conversion in Samoan moral economies / Ilana Gershon
  • Dusty signs and roots of faith : the limits of Christian meaning in highland Bolivia / Andrew Orta
  • Paranomics : on the semiotics of sacral action / James D. Faubion
  • Afterword : on limits, ruptures, meaning, and meaninglessness / Joel Robbins



"Christian theology has given to the human sciences at large hermeneutics as an interpretive science of meaning. This remarkable collection of essays by anthropologists turns a keen hermeneutic sensibility on Christian discourse and practice itself, and in the process not only makes an important contribution to the ethnography of Christianity, but also offers a profound meditation on the theory of meaning." Thomas Csordas, University of California - San Diego "The Limits of Meaning is by far the best instance I've seen of the fresh and powerful insights anthropologists are bringing to the study of Christianity. The fascinating ethnographic case studies, along with a fine Introduction by the editors and commentary by Joel Robbins, highlight the crucial importance of meaning for Christianity by focusing on points where it is most at risk or fails utterly. Extremely readable while advancing a sophisticated theoretical argument that links the deeper dynamics of Christianity with its local manifestations, this book challenges conventional understandings and opens new avenues of research. It deserves to be on the bookshelves of all serious students of contemporary world Christianity." John Barker, University of British Columbia Too often, anthropological accounts of ritual leave readers with the impression that everything goes smoothly, that rituals are "meaningful events." But what happens when rituals fail, or when they seem "meaningless"? Drawing on research in the anthropology of Christianity from around the globe, the authors in this volume suggest that in order to analyze meaning productively, we need to consider its limits. This collection is a welcome new addition to the anthropology of religion, offering fresh debates on a classic topic and drawing attention to meaning in a way that other volumes have for key terms like "culture" and "fieldwork." Matthew Engelke is a lecturer in the Department of Anthropology, London School of Economics. He has conducted research in Zimbabwe and published numerous articles in leading journals, focusing on Christian ritual, conversion, spirit possession, and textual authority. He is coeditor with Marshall Sahlins of Prickly Paradigm Press. Matt Tomlinson is an assistant lecturer in Anthropology at Monash University. He has conducted research in Fiji on Christianity's role in village and national politics, especially in relation to traditional chiefly systems and coups d'etat. He has published in American Anthropologist, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, and Oceania.

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