The Anthropology of Religious Conversion paints a picture of conversion far more complex than its customary image in anthropology and religious studies. Conversion is very seldom simply a sudden moment of insight or inspiration; it is a change both of individual consciousness and of social belonging, of mental attitude and of physical experience, whose unfolding depends both on its cultural setting and on the distinct individuals who undergo it. The book explores religious conversion in a variety of cultural settings and considers how anthropological approaches can help us understand the phenomenon. Fourteen case studies span historical and geographical contexts, including the contemporary United States, modern and medieval Europe, and non-western societies in South Asia, Melanesia, and South America. They discuss conversion to Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, and Spiritualism. Combining ethnographic description with theoretical analysis, authors consider the nature and meaning of conversion, its social and political dimensions, and its relationship to individual religious experience.
Andrew Buckser is an assistant professor of anthropology at Purdue University. Stephen D. Glazier is a professor of anthropology at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.
Part 1 Preface Part 2 In Memoriam: Morton Klass Chapter 3 The Anthropology of Conversion: An Introduction Part 4 Part One: Conversion and Social Processes Chapter 5 Continuous Conversion? The Rhetoric, Practice, and Rhetorical Practice of Charismatic Protestant Coversion Chapter 6 Agency, Bureaucracy and Religious Conversion: Ethiopian "Felashmura" Immigrants to Israel Chapter 7 Converted Innocents and their Trickster Heroes: The Politics of Proselytising in India Chapter 8 Comparing Conversion among the Dani of Irian Jaya Chapter 9 The Meanings of Conversion in Jewish Copenhagen Chapter 10 Conversion and Marginality in Southern India Part 11 Part Two: Conceptualizing Conversion: Alternative Perspectives Chapter 12 The Place of Evil in Aguaruna Evangelical Conversion Narratives Chapter 13 Turning the Belly: Insights on Religious Conversion from New Guinea Gut Feelings Chapter 14 Constraint and Freedom in Icelandic Conversions Chapter 15 Mystical Experiences, American Culture, and Conversion to Christian Spiritualist Churches Part 16 Part Three: Conversion and Individual Experience Chapter 17 "Limin' wid Ja": Spiritual Baptists who become Rastafarians and then become Spiritual Baptists again Chapter 18 Converting to what? Embodied Culture and Adoption of New Beliefs Chapter 19 From Jehovah Witness to Benedictine Nun: Conversion, Enculturation, and Formation as an ongoing Process Chapter 20 Converted Christians, Shamans, and the House of God: An Analysis of the Reasons for Conversion given by the Western Toba (Gran Chaco, Argentina) Part 21 Afterword: Anthropology and the Study of Conversion