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Scholars of religion have always worked closely with media of one kind or another, from sacred books and archaic languages to cassette-sermons and the Internet. Yet comparatively little attention has been paid to the ways we actually use these and other media in the pursuit of historical inquiry. Drawing on ethnographic and archival research conducted on the Indonesian island of Bali, this book offers a critique of the media-related assumptions underpinning fields as diverse in their subject matter and approach as the history of religions, British cultural studies and Old Javanese philology. Its central contention is that more nuanced attention to problems of media will have serious implications for how we think about the study of religions, past and present.
A 17th-century French haberdasher invented the Black Mass. An 18th-century English Cabinet Minister administered the Eucharist to a baboon. High-ranking Catholic authorities in the 19th century believed that Satan appeared in Masonic lodges in the shape of a crocodile and played the piano there. A well-known scientist from the 20th century established a cult of the Antichrist and exploded in a laboratory experiment. Three Italian girls in 2000 sacrificed a nun to the Devil. A Black Metal band honored Satan in Krakow, Poland, in 2004 by exhibiting on stage 120 decapitated sheep heads. Some of these stories, as absurd as they might sound, were real. Others, which might appear to be equally well reported, are false. But even false stories have generated real societal reactions. For the first time, Massimo Introvigne proposes a general social history of Satanism and anti-Satanism, from the French Court of Louis XIV to the Satanic scares of the late 20th century, satanic themes in Black Metal music, the Church of Satan, and beyond.
The Hoffmann Collection of Cultural Knowledge
In Ethnography from the Mission Field: The Hoffmann Collection of Cultural Knowledge Joubert et al. offer a translated and annotated edition of the 24 ethnographic articles by missionary Carl Hoffmann and his local interlocutors published between the years 1913 and 1958. The edition is introduced by a historic contextualisation using a cultural historical approach to analyse the contexts in which Hoffmann’s ethnographic texts were produced. Making use of historical material and Hoffmann’s own words from personal diaries and letters, the authors convincingly draw the attention to the discursive context in which the texts annotated in this book had been compiled. In a concluding chapter the book traces the captivating developments of the orthography of Northern Sotho through Hoffmann’s texts over almost half a century.

Brill has made the documentary film “A Journey into the Life of a Mission-Ethnographer” which is interlinked with this book available online via its online channels. To access it please click here.

The digital database of the “Hoffmann Collection of Cultural Knowledge” (HC-CK) can be accessed by clicking here. It is an amalgamation of digital scans, images and video footage relating to missionary Carl Hoffmann’s work and life on various mission stations, made available by the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin.
In this book Sita van Bemmelen offers an account of changes in Toba Batak society (Sumatra, Indonesia) due to Christianity and Dutch colonial rule (1861-1942) with a focus on customs and customary law related to the life cycle and gender relations. The first part, a historical ethnography, describes them as they existed at the onset of colonial rule. The second part zooms in on the negotiations between the Toba Batak elite, the missionaries of the German Rhenish Mission and colonial administrators about these customs showing the evolving views on desirable modernity of each contestant. The pillars of the Toba patrilineal kinship system were challenged, but alterations changed the way it was reproduced and gender relations for ever.