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Palgrave Macmillan

The Anthropology of Religious Charisma

Ecstasies and Institutions

ISBN 9781137377623
Publication Date December 2013
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Series Contemporary Anthropology of Religion

How can the irrational force of charisma co-exist within rationalized religious institutions? To answer this question, this book provides the first comparative anthropological explorations of charisma as it occurs among Charismatic Catholics, Evangelical Protestants, Sufis, Hassidic Jews, Buddhist cultists, and Native American shamans in locations ranging from Massachusetts to Syria; from Taiwan to the Dominican Republic; from Angola to the jungles of Paraguay, from Rome to Brooklyn. These cases reveal how various religious traditions incorporate ecstatic charismatic experiences within their overarching organizational systems, and so provide new insight into the nature of religion today.

Charles Lindholm is University Professor of Anthropology at Boston University, USA. His most recent books are Culture and Authenticity (2008) and The Struggle for the World: Liberation Movements for the Twenty-first Century (co-authored with José Pedro Zúquete, 2010).

Introduction: Charisma in Theory and Practice; Charles Lindholm
1. Performing the Charismatic Ritual; Keping Wu
2. Knowledge and Miracles: Modes of Charisma in Syrian Sufism; Paulo G. Pinto
3. Female Sufis in Syria: Charismatic Authority and Bureaucratic Structure; Gisele Fonseca Chegas
4. The Gender of Charisma: Notes from a Taiwanese Buddhist Transnational NGO; C. Julia Huang-Lemmon
5. Residual Masculinity and the Cultivation of Negative-Charisma in a Caribbean Pentecostal Community; Brendan Jamal Thornton
6. Extraordinary Times: Charismatic Repertoires in Contemporary African Prophetism; Ruy Llera Blanes
7. The Routinization of Improvisation in Avá-Guaraní Shamanic Leadership; Eric Michael Kelley
8. Unruly Miracles: Embodied Charisma and Modern Sainthood, from Padre Pio to "Papa Buono"; Sara M. Bergstresser
9. Habad, Messianism, and the Phantom Charisma of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Scheerson; Yoram Bilu

Sara M. Bergstresser, Boston University, USA
Yoram Bilu, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
Ruy Llera Blanes, University of Bergen, Norway
Gisele Fonseca Chagas, Fluminense Federal University, Brazil
C. Julia Huang-Lemmon, National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan
Eric Michael Kelley , Boston University, University of Massachusetts Boston, and Wheaton College, USA
Paulo G. Pinto, Fluminense Federal University, Brazil
Brendon Jamal Thornton, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA
Keping Wu, National University of Singapore


"This edited volume makes a significant contribution to scholarship in the fields of anthropology, anthropology of religion, and sociology of religion, among other areas. Charisma is intriguing as a thematic focus because by its very nature it inspires and goes beyond rationality." Rebecca Sachs Norris, Professor of Religious and Theological Studies, Merrimack College, USA
"We owe Charles Lindholm a great debt for extending charisma's empirical reach and conceptual subtlety. This brilliant collection of anthropological essays explores the tensions between charismatic persons and social institutions in diverse settings from Paraguay to Taiwan. Timely, lucid and engaging, it is an anthropological gem." - Bryan S. Turner, The Graduate Center, The City University of New York, USA
"No anthropologist has made as sustained a contribution to the study of charisma in the Weberian tradition as Charles Lindholm, and this collection of ethnographic studies by his students and colleagues consolidate his leadership in this area. These chapters penetratingly examine charisma not only as the personal attribute of a leader but also as a feature of ritual performance across a wide range of religious traditions. They offer a compelling vision of charisma as a radical spiritual force." - Thomas J. Csordas, Professor of Anthropology, University of California, San Diego, USA, and author of Language, Charisma, and Creativity: Ritual Life in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal
"A major contribution on a topic of ever-growing importance. This volume changes the face of the social scientific study of charisma, hitherto focused primarily on Western religious and historical settings. The contributors examine charismatic processes from around the world and across the religious spectrum, revealing both a wealth of variation and a surprisingly recognizable experiential core." - Andrew Buckser, Professor of Anthropology and Dean of Arts and Science, State University of New York at Plattsburgh, USA
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