This month, Fordham University Press published Empowering the People of God: Catholic Action Before and After Vatican II, edited by Jeremy Bonner, Christopher D. Denny, and Mary Beth Fraser Connolly. The publisher’s description follows:
The early 1960s were a heady time for Catholic laypeople. Pope Pius XII’s assurance “You do not belong to the Church. You are the Church” emboldened the laity to challenge Church authority in ways previously considered unthinkable. Empowering the People of God offers a fresh look at the Catholic laity and its relationship with the hierarchy in the period immediately preceding the Second Vatican Council and in the turbulent era that followed. This collection of essays explores a diverse assortment of manifestations of Catholic action, ranging from genteel reform to radical activism, and an equally wide variety of locales, apostolates, and movements.
This December, Routledge will publish A Sociological Theory of Law by Niklas Luhmann (University of Bonn). The publisher’s description follows.
Niklas Luhmann is recognised as a major social theorist, and his treatise on the sociology of law is a classic text. For Luhmann, law provides the framework of the state, lawyers are the main human resource for the state, and legal theory provides the most suitable base from which to theorize on the nature of society. He explores the concept of law in the light of a general theory of social systems, showing the important part law plays in resolving fundamental problems a society may face. He then goes on to discuss in detail how modern ‘positive’ – as opposed to ‘natural’ – law comes to fulfil this function. The work as a whole is not only a contribution to legal sociology, but a major work in social theory. With a revised translation, and a new introduction by Martin Albrow.
Next month, Oxford will publish The Secular Spectacle: Performing Religion in a Southern Town, by Chad E. Seales (University of Texas at Austin). The publisher’s description follows.
Tracing the religious history of Siler City, North Carolina, Chad E. Seales argues that southern whites cultivated their own regional brand of American secularism and employed it, alongside public religious performances, to claim and regulate public spaces. Over the course of the twentieth century, they wielded secularism to segregate racialized bodies, to challenge local changes resulting from civil rights legislation, and to respond to the arrival of Latino migrants.
Combining ethnographic and archival sources, Seales studies the themes of industrialization, nationalism, civility, privatization, and migration through the local history of Siler City; its neighborhood patterns, Fourth of July parades, Confederate soldiers, minstrel shows, mock weddings, banking practices, police shootings, Good Friday processions, public protests, and downtown mural displays. Offering a spatial approach to the study of performative religion, The Secular Spectacle presents a generative narrative of secularism from the perspective of evangelical Protestants in the American South.
Next month, the University Press of Colorado will publish The Neo-Indians: A Religion for the Third Millenium by Jacques Galinier (Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense) and Antoinette Molinie (Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense). The publisher’s description follows.
The Neo-Indians is a rich ethnographic study of the emergence of the neo-Indian movement—a new form of Indian identity based on largely reinvented pre-colonial cultures and comprising a diverse group of people attempting to re-create purified pre-colonial indigenous beliefs and ritual practices without the contaminating influences of modern society.
There is no full-time neo-Indian. Both indigenous and non-indigenous practitioners assume Indian identities only when deemed spiritually significant. In their daily lives, they are average members of modern society, dressing in Western clothing, working at middle-class jobs, and retaining their traditional religious identities. As a result of this part-time status the neo-Indians are often overlooked as a subject of study, making this book the first anthropological analysis of the movement.
Galinier and Molinié present and analyze four decades of ethnographic research focusing on Mexico and Peru, the two major areas of the movement’s genesis. They examine the use of public space, describe the neo-Indian ceremonies, provide analysis of the ceremonies’ symbolism, and explore the close relationship between the neo-Indian religion and tourism. The Neo-Indians will be of great interest to ethnographers, anthropologists, and scholars of Latin American history, religion, and cultural studies.
Next month, Georgetown University Press will publish The Future of Ethics: Sustainability, Social Justice, and Religious Creativity by Willis Jenkins (University of Virginia). The publisher’s description follows.
The Future of Ethics interprets the big questions of sustainability and social justice through the practical problems arising from humanity’s increasing power over basic systems of life. What does climate change mean for our obligations to future generations? How can the sciences work with pluralist cultures in ways that will help societies learn from ecological change?
Traditional religious ethics examines texts and traditions and highlights principles and virtuous behaviors that can apply to particular issues. Willis Jenkins develops lines of practical inquiry through “prophetic pragmatism,” an approach to ethics that begins with concrete problems and adapts to changing circumstances. This brand of pragmatism takes its cues from liberationist theology, with its emphasis on how individuals and communities actually cope with overwhelming problems.
Can religious communities make a difference when dealing with these issues? By integrating environmental sciences and theological ethics into problem-based engagements with philosophy, economics, and other disciplines, Jenkins illustrates the wide understanding and moral creativity needed to live well in the new conditions of human power. He shows the significance of religious thought to the development of interdisciplinary responses to sustainability issues and how this calls for a new style of religious ethics.
Next month, Ashgate will publish Alternative Islamic Discourses and Religious Authority edited by Carool Kersten (King’s College London) and Susanne Olsson Södertörn University Sweden). The publisher’s description follows.
Like anywhere else, the present-day Islamic world too is grappling with modernity and postmodernity, secularisation and globalisation. Muslims are raising questions about religious representations and authority. This has given rise to the emergence of alternative Islamic discourses which challenge binary oppositions and dichotomies of orthodoxy and heterodoxy, continuity and change, state and civil society. It also leads to a dispersal of authority, a collapse of existing hierarchical structures and gender roles. This book further argues that the centre of gravity of many of these alternative Islamic discourses is shifting from the Arabic-speaking ‘heartland’ towards the geographical peripheries of the Muslim world and expatriate Muslims in North America and Europe. At the same time, in view of recent seismic shifts in the political constellation of the Middle East, the trends discussed in this book hold important clues for the possible direction of future developments in that volatile part of the Muslim world.
Next month, Oxford University Press will publish American Civil Religion: What Americans Hold Sacred by Peter Gardella (Manhattanville College). The publisher’s description follows.
The United States has never had an officially established national church. Since the time of the first British colonists, it has instead developed a strong civil religion that melds God and nation. In a deft exploration of American civil religious symbols-from the Liberty Bell to the Vietnam Memorial, from Mount Rushmore to Disney World-Peter Gardella explains how the places, objects, and words that Americans hold sacred came into being and how Americans’ feelings about them have changed over time. In addition to examining revered historical sites and structures, he analyzes such sacred texts as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Gettysburg Address, the Kennedy Inaugural, and the speeches of Martin Luther King, and shows how five patriotic songs-”The Star-Spangled Banner,” “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” “America the Beautiful,” “God Bless America,” and “This Land Is Your Land”-have been elevated into hymns.
Arguing that certain values-personal freedom, political democracy, world peace, and cultural tolerance-have held American civil religion together, Gardella chronicles the numerous forms those values have taken, from Jamestown and Plymouth to the September 11, 2001 Memorial in New York.
This month, New York University Press will publish Fire in the Canyon: Religion, Migration, and the Mexican Dream by Leah Sarat (Arizona State University). The publisher’s description follows.
The canyon in central Mexico was ablaze with torches as hundreds of people filed in. So palpable was their shared shock and grief, they later said, that neither pastor nor priest was needed. The event was a memorial service for one of their own who had died during an attempted border passage. Months later a survivor emerged from a coma to tell his story. The accident had provoked a near-death encounter with God that prompted his conversion to Pentecostalism.
Today, over half of the local residents of El Alberto, a town in central Mexico, are Pentecostal. Submitting themselves to the authority of a God for whom there are no borders, these Pentecostals today both embrace migration as their right while also praying that their “Mexican Dream”—the dream of a Mexican future with ample employment for all—will one day become a reality.
Fire in the Canyon provides one of the first in‑depth looks at the dynamic relationship between religion, migration, and ethnicity across the U.S.-Mexican border. Faced with the choice between life‑threatening danger at the border and life‑sapping poverty in Mexico, residents of El Alberto are drawing on both their religion and their indigenous heritage to demand not only the right to migrate, but also the right to stay home. If we wish to understand people’s migration decisions, Sarat argues, we must take religion seriously. It is through religion that people formulate their ideas about life, death, and the limits of government authority.
This month, Cambridge will publish Churchmen and Urban Government in Late Medieval Italy, c.1200-c. 1450: Cases and Contexts, edited by Frances Andrews (University of St. Andrew’s) with contributions from Agata Pincelli (University of St. Andrew’s) and others. The publisher’s description follows.
Why, when so driven by the impetus for autonomy, did the city elites of thirteenth-century Italy turn to men bound to religious orders whose purpose and reach stretched far beyond the boundaries of their often disputed territories? Churchmen and Urban Government in Late Medieval Italy, c.1200–c.1450 brings together a team of international contributors to provide the first comparative response to this pivotal question. Presenting a series of urban cases and contexts, the book explores the secular-religious boundaries of the period and evaluates the role of the clergy in the administration and government of Italy’s city-states. With an extensive introduction and epilogue, it exposes for consideration the beginnings of the phenomenon, the varying responses of churchmen, the reasons why practices changed and how politics and religious identity relate to each other. This important new study has significant implications for our understanding of power, negotiation, bureaucracy and religious identity.
- The first comprehensive study of the employment of men of religion, including penitents, monks, and other viri religiosi in late medieval Italy
- A broad-ranging comparative history including case studies across thirteen different Italian city-states and regions
- Includes studies of the phenomenon of employment beyond the cloister from the perspective of individual religious orders
Next month, Stanford University will publish Rhinestones, Religion, and the Republic: Fashioning Jewishness in France, by Kimberly A. Arkin (Boston University). The publisher’s description follows.
During the course of her fieldwork in Paris, anthropologist Kimberly Arkin heard what she thought was a surprising admission. A French-born, North African Jewish (Sephardi) teenage girl laughingly told Arkin she was a racist. When asked what she meant by that, the girl responded, “It means I hate Arabs.”
This girl was not unique. She and other Sephardi youth in Paris insisted, again and again, that they were not French, though born in France, and that they could not imagine their Jewish future in France. Fueled by her candid and compelling informants, Arkin’s analysis delves into the connections and disjunctures between Jews and Muslims, religion and secular Republicanism, race and national community, and identity and culture in post-colonial France. Rhinestones argues that Sephardi youth, as both “Arabs” and “Jews,” fall between categories of class, religion, and culture. Many reacted to this liminality by going beyond religion and culture to categorize their Jewishness as race, distinguishing Sephardi Jews from “Arab” Muslims, regardless of similarities they shared, while linking them to “European” Jews (Ashkenazim), regardless of their differences. But while racializing Jewishness might have made Sephardi Frenchness possible, it produced the opposite result: it re-grounded national community in religion-as-race, thereby making pluri-religious community appear threatening. Rhinestones thus sheds light on the production of race, alienation, and intolerance within marginalized French and European populations.