Cover Image

Larger ImageView Larger


The Anthropology of Catholicism

A Reader

Kristin Norget (Editor), Valentina Napolitano (Editor), Maya Mayblin (Editor)


Other Formats Available:
Aimed at a wide audience of readers, The Anthropology of Catholicism is the first companion guide to this burgeoning field within the anthropology of Christianity. Bringing to light Catholicism’s long but comparatively ignored presence within the discipline of anthropology, the book introduces readers to key studies in the field, as well as to current analyses on the present and possible futures of Catholicism globally. This reader provides both ethnographic material and theoretical reflections on Catholicism around the world, demonstrating how a revised anthropology of Catholicism can generate new insights and analytical frameworks that will impact anthropology as well as other disciplines.
Introduction: The Anthropology of Catholicism
Maya Mayblin, Kristin Norget, and Valentina Napolitano


1. Excerpt from “St Besse: A Study of an Alpine Cult”
Robert Hertz

2. Excerpt from “Tarantism and Catholicism”
Ernesto de Martino

3. Excerpt from “The Place of Grace in Anthropology”
Julian A. Pitt-Rivers

4. Excerpt from “The Dinka and Catholicism”
Godfrey Lienhardt

5. Excerpt from “Iconophily and Iconoclasm in Marian Pilgrimage” Victor Turner and Edith Turner

6. Excerpt from Person and God in a Spanish Valley
William A. Christian

7. Excerpt from “The Priest as Agent of Secularization in Rural Spain”
Stanley H. Brandes

8. Excerpt from “Women Mystics and Eucharistic Devotion in the Thirteenth Century”
Caroline Walker Bynum


9. “Complexio Oppositorum”? Religion, Society, and Power in the Making of Catholicism in Rural South India
David Mosse

10. Marking Memory: Heritage Work and Devotional Labor at Quebec’s Croix de Chemin
Hillary Kaell

11. Containment and Contagion: The Gender of Sin in Contemporary Catholicism
Maya Mayblin

12. Opulence and Simplicity: The Question of Tension in Syrian Catholicism
Andreas Bandak

13. The Paradox of Charismatic Catholicism: Rupture and Continuity in a Q’eqchi’-Maya Parish
Eric Hoenes del Pinal

14. The Virgin of Guadalupe and Spectacles of Catholic Evangelism in Mexico
Kristin Norget

15. The Rosary as a Meditation on Death at a Marian Apparition Shrine
Ellen Badone

16. A Catholic Body? Miracles, Secularity, and the Porous Self in Malta
Jon P. Mitchell

17. Experiments of Inculturation in a Catholic Charismatic Movement in Cameroon
Ludovic Lado

18. On a Political Economy of Political Theology: El Señor de los Milagros
Valentina Napolitano

19. Making a Home in an Unfortunate Place: Phenomenology and Religion
J. Michelle Molina


20. “We’re All Catholics Now”
Simon Coleman

21. What Is Catholic about the Clergy Sex Abuse Crisis?
Robert A. Orsi

22. Possession and Psychopathology, Faith and Reason
Thomas J. Csordas

23. Catholicism and the Study of Religion
Birgit Meyer

24. The Media of Sensation
Niklaus Largier

List of Contributors
Kristin Norget is Associate Professor of Anthropology at McGill University.

Valentina Napolitano is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Toronto.

Maya Mayblin is Lecturer in Social Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh.
"Overall, the book brings needed shape and specificity to an otherwise amorphous field of study.... Summing Up: Highly recommended."—CHOICE
"We have in this volume a first-rate collection of insightful essays by leading anthropologists and historians that vastly enriches the study of Catholic practice and belief. The range of work spans home, body, theology, politics, healing, gender, ethnicity, and material culture. The result is an intellectual feast worthy of the topic. Yet the creative scholarship featured in this book will also serve as a model for the study of religion far beyond Catholicism."—David Morgan, Duke University "This is a great reader. The editors have done a sterling job of bringing together a range of classic and contemporary takes on Catholicism as imagined and as lived throughout the world. It deserves a place on the shelf of any serious student of religion."—Matthew Engelke, London School of Economics    

"Kristin Norget, Valentina Napolitano, and Maya Mayblin have curated a reader that both honors the canonical legacy of anthropology of religion and offers a compelling new vision for the ethnographic engagement with modern forms of religious life. They are attentive to the challenges of 'global Christianity' as well as to pressing theoretical questions about mediation, embodiment, materiality, and power. Juxtaposing excerpts from the classics with detail-rich ethnographic analyses, The Anthropology of Catholicism makes a critical intervention into the emerging academic studies of lived religions. Specialists, students, and general readers will all find captivating new insights and challenges in this volume."—Elizabeth Castelli, Barnard College

Join UC Press

Members receive 20-40% discounts on book purchases. Find out more