Becoming Sinners: Christianity and Moral Torment in a Papua by Joel Robbins

By Joel Robbins

In an international of quick and sweeping cultural ameliorations, few have obvious adjustments as swift and dramatic as these skilled through the Urapmin of Papua New Guinea within the final 4 a long time. A distant humans by no means without delay "missionized," the Urapmin all started within the Sixties to ship younger males to check with Baptist missionaries dwelling between neighboring groups. by way of the past due Seventies, the Urapmin had passed through a charismatic revival, leaving behind their conventional faith for a Christianity intensely concerned about human sinfulness and pushed through a continuing experience of millennial expectation. Exploring the Christian tradition of the Urapmin, Joel Robbins indicates how its preoccupations supply keys to knowing the character of cultural switch extra regularly. In so doing, he deals one of many richest to be had anthropological debts of Christianity as a lived faith. Theoretically bold and engagingly written, his publication opens a distinct point of view on a Melanesian society, non secular adventure, and the very nature of quick cultural change.

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Additional info for Becoming Sinners: Christianity and Moral Torment in a Papua New Guinea Society (Ethnographic Studies in Subjectivity, 4)

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Every group’s rituals, sacra, and bodies of knowledge were necessary to the successful operation of the system. But each group’s endowments were also ranked relative to the others, such that the rituals, sacra, and sacred knowledge of some groups were important to the fertility (including both agricultural success and the growth of boys into warriors) of the whole region, and those of other groups were primarily important in ensuring their own fertility. The Telefolmin, near neighbors Introduction 17 PAPUA NEW GUINEA Area of detail N R pik Se iver Atbalmin Duranmin Eliptaman Tifalmin INDONESIA I l a m R i v er Urapmin Telefomin WE ST S EPIK WE PRO STE VIN RN CE PRO VIN CE Wopkaimin Tabubil Approximately 10 km Map 1.

Put most simply, Urapmin ideas of the law hold that once one has chosen to relate to people by living or working with them, one owes them some consideration in at least the near future. Examples of such consideration are that one should stay in a village one has joined until it moves, or continue gardening with people with whom one has started a garden until the garden is harvested out and returned to fallow. There are many more complex ideas of lawful behavior that I discuss later, for the fraught relationship between the law and the will is at the heart of traditional Urapmin moral thinking, but even these few examples are 26 Introduction enough to indicate that the notion of the law works to contain the openendedness of Urapmin social life by tempering people’s free exercise of their wills.

The viability of such a project of ordering, and hence of an anthropology of globalization more generally, depends on the accomplishment of an even more fundamental task of developing a viable theory of how cultures change; a theory that both accounts for the causes of change and specifies the mechanisms by which it occurs (see LiPuma 2000: 89). In the bulk of this book I work toward the development of such a theory. In the conclusion, I return to the issues of globalization that the Urapmin material raises and ask what progress my account has helped us make toward theorizing them.

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