I explore potential tensions and mutual provocations among the anthropology of religion, radical theology, and critical philosophy in order to suggest the political and potentially eventful role of the immanent in anthropology. By the end of the essay, my apologia argues for the positive influence of the immanent as opposed to the paradoxical in ethnographic method and theory, which depend on a close examination of religion as it is lived and performed. At the same time, I examine the ways in which theology and philosophy, alongside the emergent anthropological study of globalizing Christianities, can provoke us into considering ways in which to rethink what an immanent anthropology might involve. Key issues here involve acknowledging the previously repressed genealogical relationships between anthropology and Christianity, reframing what we mean by “the social,” and debating how we might develop a committed anthropology that is aware of its ability to disseminate powerful encounters with otherness within but also beyond the academy. The essay largely draws on published works, but reflections are also prompted by experiences at an academic conference as well as fieldwork within varieties of charismatic Christianity.
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Simon Coleman; An Anthropological Apologetics. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 October 2010; 109 (4): 791–810. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-2010-017
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