T. Pearson's Missions and Conversions: Creating the Montagnard-Dega PDF

By T. Pearson

ISBN-10: 0230615368

ISBN-13: 9780230615366

This learn deals a clean examining of non secular conversion by way of studying various “missionaries” that sought to steer the Montagnard-Dega refugee. Thomas Pearson makes use of ethnographic and archival learn to inform the tale of cross-cultural touch within the highlands throughout the Vietnam battle, Christian conversion, refugee exile, and the formation of the Dega refugee neighborhood within the usa. His insightful learn considers not only evangelicals and Catholics, yet humanitarian staff within the highlands, refugee resettlement volunteers within the usa, and the yank exact Forces squaddies. This ebook makes the case that the Dega have appropriated the anthropological and non secular discourses of this disparate staff of missionaries to recreate themselves via a multivalent “conversion.”

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Additional info for Missions and Conversions: Creating the Montagnard-Dega Refugee Community (Contemporary Anthropology of Religion)

Example text

Yang were involved when a new house was constructed or when kinship alliances were formed. Yang controlled a person’s destiny, bringing success or failure. Yang were called upon to cure sickness (which could often be caused by some sort of infraction against the spirit world). In French accounts the Montagnards incessantly implore the goodwill of these spirits through the sacrifice of animals and through elaborate prayers and oaths. The Montagnards’ system for adjudicating disputes relied on divination techniques to determine the will of the yang.

He rarely addresses this apparent contradiction head on. When he writes for fellow evangelists (not fellow linguists), he marshals his arguments to overcome their assumed cultural chauvinism and their suspicions, if not hostility, toward anthropology. In these texts he feels no need to justify evangelism—only the need to temper it (or really, to sharpen it) through missionary practices informed by scientific ethnography. For example, he writes: No one must imagine . . that cultural anthropology is the answer to the problems of Christian missions, but it can aid very materially in the process by which the missionary endeavors to communicate to others the significance of the new way of life made possible through the vicarious death of the Son of God.

The primary westerners in the highlands were missionaries, colonial administrators, the military, and anthropologists. These various colonial projects drew from and depended upon one another in their encounter with and representations of highland people. But none of them was entirely comfortable with (or wanted to fully disclose) its relationship to the others. The American military’s use of anthropologists became quite controversial during the Vietnam War, as was the missionary’s use of anthropology in evangelical circles.

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Missions and Conversions: Creating the Montagnard-Dega Refugee Community (Contemporary Anthropology of Religion) by T. Pearson


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