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In 1982, David B. Barrett released his 1,000-page World Christian Encyclopedia, which presented a comprehensive quantitative assessment of World Christianity for the first time. This book is the first historical project to analyze Barrett’s archival materials, which shed light not only on the production of the Encyclopedia, but more importantly, on the development of World Christianity as a discipline and the importance of both African Christianity and quantitative perspectives in its history. This book captures innovations at the intersection of World Christianity, mission studies, and the sociology of religion – the kind of interdisciplinary research that makes World Christianity studies unique.
Volume Editors: and
The Case of Polish Female Converts to Islam
This is the first systematic study of Polish women's conversion to Islam in English. Through interviews with Polish female converts to Islam and ethnographic observation, we learn about their journey to Islam in a country where Muslims constitute less than 0,5% of the population and experience daily struggles related to maintaining their national and religious identities sometimes considered to be spoiled. The analysis presented in the book illuminates different factors that shape the converts' religious lives: attempts to establish "Polish Islam" with its unique cultural flavor; a new hybrid language that includes Polish, English and Arabic elements; intersectional identities as women, Muslims, Poles, and Eastern European immigrants among those who live outside of Poland. This study offers a fascinating window into the lives of Muslims in a sociopolitical context that is considered to be on the margins of the "Muslim world."
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Abstract

Feminist criticism recognises two rival sacrifices in the Western philosophical- theological tradition: the motherly sacrifice of childbirth and the near-sacrifice of Isaac (the so-called Akedah; Gen 22). In this paper, I investigate both sacrifices as a self-emptying and transformative process that aims to offer oneself in the place of the other. The argument proceeds in three steps: first, I present the self-sacrifice of childbirth as the moment of identity split and the “being for the other”; second, I interpret Gen 22 as a self-sacrifice (“Here I am”; Gen 22:1c) which calls to responsibility as a possible route to non-sacrificial relations; finally, I question the essentialism that accompanies the Akedah and childbirth in order to liberate both from gender stereotypes and to present them as two different forms of self-sacrifice which seek to break the sacrificial logic of our Western society.

Open Access
In: Interdisciplinary Journal for Religion and Transformation in Contemporary Society
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Abstract

This paper focuses on the idea of the so-called sacrifice for nothing in Jan Patočka. Firstly, I clarify the concept and explain its place in the context of Patočka’s thought and its surrounding historical conditions. Secondly, I critically apply Patočka’s concept to some particular examples, such as a free-willing sacrifice of a mother for her child and a forced-violent sacrifice of political oppression. Thirdly and finally, I argue that despite the language of nothingness, it is possible to draw a positive program from these reflections, and thus to turn the negativity of sacrifice into a being transforming experience.

Open Access
In: Interdisciplinary Journal for Religion and Transformation in Contemporary Society
Free access
In: Interdisciplinary Journal for Religion and Transformation in Contemporary Society
Series Editors: and
Death in History, Culture, and Society is a peer-reviewed interdisciplinary series of monographs and edited volumes. It is dedicated to social and cultural engagements with death across the globe. This includes synchronous studies of death during a specific period within a culture and studies with a cross-cultural approach; diachronous studies of death-related issues within a region, genre or culture; explorations of new death-related concepts and methodologies; or specific death-related inquiries. The focus may lie on concepts and definitions of death and dying; death rituals, both sacred and secular; social or cultural responses to death; issues of memory and identity related to death and loss; as well as individual, social or political strategies of integrating death and the dead into life.
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Abstract

The sacrificial story in Genesis 22:1–19, the Aqeda or “Binding of Isaac,” has generated a large body of research literature. This is due to its irresolvable ambiguity: God commands the sacrifice of Isaac and stops it. The reader is not informed about reasons or intentions of the characters involved. After analyzing some possible approaches to the text’s ambiguity, I offer a new performative reading of the passage with Giorgio Agamben’s and Judith Butler’s theories of gesture. I argue that this approach effectively deals with ambiguity, because it neither erases violence nor justifies it. It rather exposes violence by interrupting and redirecting it. Abraham’s raised hand with the knife thus becomes an interrupted gesture. It makes the text a monument to violence that teaches to see the same situation in a different light and to interrupt the continuous repetition of violent behaviour.

Open Access
In: Interdisciplinary Journal for Religion and Transformation in Contemporary Society

Abstract

The concept of sacrifice poses an interesting challenge to feminist theory. On the one hand, it seems that women must reject self-sacrificing practices. On the other hand, certain recent feminist analyses have recognized sacrifice as a potential empowering tool for women, so long as it is freely chosen and experienced as positively transformative.

In this paper I argue that it is possible to relate to childbirth either as an event calling for women to sacrifice themselves in the patriarchal sense or, alternatively, as one that allows for a “feminist sacrifice” – a deeply embodied and painful but also creative and redeeming self-sacrifice, chosen by a woman herself.

I show that while the patriarchal sacrifice of women’s birthing bodies in the labor room through shame, blame, objectification, and abuse must be clearly rejected from a feminist perspective, there is nevertheless room for “feminist sacrifice” in childbirth.

Open Access
In: Interdisciplinary Journal for Religion and Transformation in Contemporary Society
Author:

Abstract

This article explores the Scuola di Meditazione (School of Meditation) established in Sardinia in 1983, one of the earliest instances in Italy of the use of ‘Eastern’ techniques by Roman Catholic religious professionals to promote the practice of meditation for lay people. Against the backdrop of ongoing religious diversification in the Italian context, this case study provides an insight on religion under globalization as a complex and multilayered phenomenon. In particular, the formation and activities of the Scuola di Meditazione show to be ingrained in the working of the global cultural network, with both direct and indirect cultural imports from Asia through mediatization, missionization, and mobility; to build upon the broader global repositioning of the Roman Catholic Church towards Asian and other ‘world’ religions through the adoption of a soft inclusivist approach; and to provide a meaningful framework for glocal practices resulting in the globally-oriented reshaping of individual religious worlds.

Open Access
In: Interdisciplinary Journal for Religion and Transformation in Contemporary Society