This article takes a sociocultural anthropological approach to conversion. It asks not about the causes of conversion, but about the kinds of cultural changes conversion produces and the mechanisms by which it brings about such changes. Drawing on the author’s research among a recently converted group in Papua New Guinea and on other work produced by scholars working in the anthropology of Christianity, the article argues that Christianity is a culture of secondarity, designed to come after another culture that previously guided its converts. Moreover, Christian converts tend to engage their prior cultures not by completely rejecting them, but by evaluating their components critically in relation to new Christian values. This produces a duplex cultural formation that regularly fosters critical reflection and ongoing cultural change. This model of change is briefly distinguished from more common models of syncretism, suggesting a new understanding of the relationship between conversion and cultural change.

本文从社会文化人类学的角度探讨转化这课题。所问的问题不是转化的原因,而是由转化而产生的文化转变,及带来这种转变的机制。从作者对巴布亚新几内亚最近信主的群体的研究,及其他基督教人类学学者的著作, 本文论证基督教乃是第二类文化,是在之前引导人信主的文化之后才进入的文化。而且,信主的人倾向与前文化继续接触,不是完全地拒绝,而是以基督教新的价值观来衡量原文化的各个因素。这就形成了双层文化,促进尖锐的反思和不断的文化转变。这种转变模式不同于常见的融合主义的模式,而是带出一种对转化与文化改变之间的关系的新的认识。

El artículo adopta un enfoque sociocultural antropológico sobre la conversión. No trata las causas de la conversión, sino los tipos de cambios culturales producidos por la conversión y los mecanismos por los cuales se producen tales cambios. Se toma como punto de partida la investigación hecha entre un grupo de recién convertidos en Papúa Nueva Guinea y en otro trabajo realizado por profesionales en el área de antropología del cristianismo; el artículo sostiene que el cristianismo es una cultura de secundariedad que aparece luego de que otra cultura haya antes guiado a los ahora convertidos.

Además, los cristianos convertidos se relacionan con sus culturas anteriores evaluando críticamente sus componentes en relación a los nuevos valores cristianos pero no las rechazan completamente. Esto produce una doble formación cultural que fomenta, en forma regular, la reflexión crítica y los cambios constantes. Este modelo de cambio se lo distingue brevemente de los modelos más comunes de sincretismo, y sugiere una nueva comprensión de la relación entre la conversión y el cambio cultural.

This article is in English.

In: Mission Studies


This chapter examines the recent rise of both the category of “world Christianity” and the anthropology of Christianity and asks how, together, they may have created the conditions in which a new dialogue between anthropology and theology can develop. Having laid the historical groundwork for the two disciplines’ current interest in one another, I go on to explore two areas in which work in each field might inform that in the other. The first is the area of normative judgment of one’s objects of study, a topic which theology and anthropology related to in quite different ways. The second area is that of fundamental understandings of the human (a topic usually covered in theological and philosophical anthropology, but one that in an unmarked way is crucial to social anthropology as well). Here I find some surprising convergences between the two disciplines. I consider possible dialogue around both of these topics by looking at how scholars in the two fields engage the currently globally popular prosperity gospel.

In: Faith in African Lived Christianity
In: Christianity, Conflict, and Renewal in Australia and the Pacific
In: Relocating World Christianity