Christianity and the Limits of Materiality
Despite the fact that Christianity is understood to be thoroughly intertwined with matter, objects, and things, Christians struggle to cope with this materiality in their daily lives. This volume argues that the ambivalent relationships many Christians have with materiality is a driving force that contributes to the way people in different Christian traditions and in different parts of the world understand and live out their religion.
By placing the questions of limits and boundary-work to the fore, the volume addresses the question of exactly how Christianity takes place materially, addressing a gap in studies to date. Christianity and the Limits of Materiality presents ground-breaking research on the frameworks and contexts in relation to and within which Christian logics of materiality operate. The volume places the negotiations at the limits of materiality within the larger framework of Christian identities and politics of belonging.
The chapters discuss case studies from North and South America, Europe, and Africa, and demonstrate that the limits preoccupying Christians delimit their lives but also enable many things. Ultimately, Christianity and the Limits of Materiality demonstrates that it is at the interfaces of materiality and the transcendent that Christians create and legitimise their religion.
“Taking up one of the most pressing intellectual problems in the anthropology of Christianity, this set of essays exploring differing Christian materialities is worth attending to not just by academics interested in Christianity, but by those who care about religion, semiotics, or the anthropology of ethics as well.” —Jon Bialecki, Fellow in Social Anthropology, University of Edinburgh, UK
“Minna Opas and Anna Haapalainen have brought together an impressive set of scholars from both anthropology and theology, developing fresh insights into one of the central antinomies of Christianity. Collectively, the chapters in this volume demonstrate that the boundary between the material and the spiritual in any particular Christian context is unknowable in advance of situated historical and ethnographic work. This important and exciting volume rejuvenates the discussion of materiality in the anthropology of religion.” —Courtney Handman, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of Texas at Austin, USA
“…a work that furthers the discussion of Christian materiality in a responsible and useful way.” —Reading Religion