This chapter covers the question of organized religions in the complex global modernity. It explores a range of interactions between the rise of cities as key global spaces for economic, political, and cultural conditions, and the rise of religion as a major force in setting where it was not quite so in the twentieth century, which saw the rise of the secularizing state. The chapter develops the urbanizing of war, as it feeds a particularly acute and violent bridging of cities with religious conflicts, and then takes two specific instances of asymmetric war, one in Mumbai and one in Gaza, to investigate the variable and contradictory elements in this bridging. Religion has emerged as one key organizing and legitimating passion, even as it is often not the cause. The Mumbai attacks had succeeded in drawing a conventional inter-state conflict into the specifics and momentary event that was that attack. Gaza displays the limits of power and the limits of war. The chapter makes visible the territorial conflict driving some of the current religious conflict, even as both sides make use of this long history to justify their actions.
This article notes that the study of the modern history of East European Jews is not a field driven at present by deep conceptual or ideological divides or abiding scholarly or methodological controversies. The past debates on this score between Israeli and diaspora Jewish scholarship have all but disappeared, as has even more dramatically the attempt at a Marxist version of juedische Wissenschaft. While the major works of the founders of the field from Simon Dubnov on ought to be studied and the impressive resurgence of interest in the history and culture of East European Jewry in the modern age is underway, the work is still largely undone. The crucial challenge to the field is not to succumb to the lachrymose and romanticized stereotypes of Jewish life in Eastern Europe while continuing to explore the history of this the largest Jewry in the world before the Holocaust.
This article describes conceptions of the early modern period in Jewish historiography, the Italian Renaissance, intellectual history, the Jews of Central Europe in the early modern period, the Sephardic diaspora in Western Europe, and messianism. Classical Jewish historiography depicted a sharp break between medieval and modern patterns, the movements of transformation seeming to emerge virtually out of nothing. Cecil Roth's The Jews in the Renaissance introduced Jewish historians to the riches of Jewish life in this multifaceted world. Jewish intellectual history in the early modern period is characterized by successful attempts to cross traditional disciplinary boundaries. The expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 and from Portugal in 1497 had a profound impact on the life of Western European Jews, even beyond that on Iberian Jewry itself. Meanwhile, the messianic movement of Sabbatai Zevi reverberated strongly through the Jewish historiography of the early modern period.
This article begins with a discussion of the Exodus in the Latin American Bible movement (Movimento Bíblico Latino-Americano) related to the Theology of Liberation. It then looks at the symbol of the Exodus in popular culture, as it is expressed outside of the norms of theological language. The hypothesis is that there is a tension between both traditions. The popular tradition seems never to have addressed the whole of the Exodus narrative, instead making choices that have transformed this key liberation symbol into something very different. Popular culture stresses different topics from those which are important for a theological reading. The article aims to point out the key options which both kinds of approach to the Exodus offer, and to show how they contradict each other. It may also be possible to highlight their different hermeneutics. So the interest here is centred on the interpretative processes, and the choices, classifications, and new discourses that arise from these.
Māori are the first nation people of Aotearoa New Zealand, a group of South West Pacific Islands. Colonized by the British Empire, Aotearoa came into being through an act consolidated by the signing of a controversial treaty between Māori tribes and Queen Victoria of England. From their earliest encounter, Māori women, or wahine Māori, experienced a dramatic shift in their social position. Traditionally, they occupied leadership roles at all levels of society. However, colonization instigated a societal reassignment that has led them to their current position behind white males, white females, white children, and Māori males, but ahead of Māori children. Key events in history contributed to the invisibility of wahine Māori in their own context and brought them to their present crisis. To assist the reader in understanding this context, this chapter first considers some key elements of Māori spirituality, and then explores developed and developing relationships, specifically the consequences of the differences between values systems of Māori and the British colonizer. The final section describes the current reality of wahine Māori and draws some conclusions about the influence of globalization in the process.
Far-flung movements of women from disadvantaged areas of the world to more advantaged ones are at the heart of the present configuration of global capitalism. Rather than simply leaving their countries of origin to set up temporary or permanent residence elsewhere, women who move in today's global economy, in order to take jobs as housekeepers or nannies (for example), are typically transnational migrants. Even as they settle into new places, their lives remain bound up with where they came from, in virtue of rather dense social and familial networks bridging national boundaries. Connected simultaneously in this way to at least two places at once, these women are working out in their everyday lives a fundamental reconfiguration of the way cultural traditions are set up and maintained, with significant implications for the understanding of religious traditions in particular. This chapter shows that, in the lives of these women, coming undone is the familiar association of tradition with the intergenerational transmission of an already established way of life by means of face-to-face interactions in a single location.
Neela Bhattacharya Saxena
This chapter seeks to contribute to what Raimon Panikkar calls a dialogical dialogue, by speaking in the voice of a Shakta (Shakti worshipper) woman who grew up with the symbol of an all-powerful female deity: Kali, the presiding center of the Tantric tradition. Tantric Advaita, or non-dual thinking, and meditation practices permeate Indic traditions, making the world itself saturated with the spirit of the Divine Feminine. Tantric meditation upon the Devi that fine-tunes the entire being of the practitioner awakens her to the vibrant and subtle Shakti—the energy source of all which animates the universe—within her own body. This awakening at once annihilates the limited self bound by conditioned thinking and opens a window onto the infinite potentiality that only an encounter with death, symbolized by cremation-ground imagery of Kali, can inaugurate. The chapter presents this Gynocentric core of the Indic tradition within the larger context of Hinduism and its long, complex history. It shows how pluralist postmodern worldviews are more congenial to understanding polymorphous Hinduism(s) as opposed to absolutist Western perspectives influenced by imperial, missionary, and reductively rationalist ideas that misread the Great Goddess as a remnant of primitive religiosities, needing the light of masculine reason of Western Enlightenment. The chapter then locates the Indian context in a fast-changing world of global commerce that has the potential to impinge upon human diversity by imposing its own hegemonic vision. It further imagines a positive side effect of globalization—a new global consciousness strengthened by women's voices and spiritual convictions that would possibly herald what has been proclaimed as the second Axial age, opening up intercultural dialogues for the benefit of all—women, men, and the planet as a whole.
Mark R. Cohen
Islam arose in the seventh century in Arabia through the preaching of the prophet Muhammad (d. 632). Nineteenth-century Jewish historians of the ‘Wissenschaft des Judentums’ school painted the experience of medieval Jewry in the world of Islam in idyllic, almost mythic terms and in stark contrast to the sorrowful, oppressive, persecutory history of Jews living in medieval Christendom. This rosy comparison between the ‘Golden Age’ under Islam and the era of persecution under Christendom, sketched against the background of the political agenda of nineteenth-century Central European Jewish intellectuals, was carried forth into the twentieth century, reinforced by the brutal Nazi persecution of the Jews culminating in the Holocaust. On the other hand, the Arab-Jewish dispute over Palestine generated a fresh political issue which impacted on the historiography of medieval Jewry in the world of Islam.
Virginia Garrard and Justin M. Doran
Pentecostalism, a Christian renewal movement that emphasizes ecstatic bodily worship and charismatic practices, transformed Latin American Christianity over the course of the twentieth century. While they were influenced by the disruptive North American Holiness movements from which their piety originated, converts adapted Pentecostal Christianity to local economic and political realities that generated new, Latin American forms of Pentecostalism. This chapter traces the dynamics of Pentecostal transformation in Latin America across two case studies: Guatemala and Brazil. Both countries underwent enormous shifts in religious demographics and practices that reveal similar trends amid substantial diversity in the Pentecostalization of Latin America. Guatemala’s Pentecostal boom occurred through the country’s tumultuous thirty-year conflict between leftist guerrillas and an intractable military government. Pentecostalization crescendoed while military general Efrain Ríos Montt, a Pentecostal, came to power and oversaw the violent deaths of as many as 200,000 civilians who were predominantly indigenous Maya. Vast numbers of conversions to Pentecostalism followed, revealing its power to re-enchant destroyed and seemingly hopeless worlds. Brazilian Pentecostalism maintained a subdued, conservative critical presence within Brazilian society until neo-Pentecostal evangelists asserted themselves in the public sphere, taking on popular African diasporic religions, Spiritism, and established Catholicism in equal measure. After democracy was re-established, neo-Pentecostal churches—magnified by their immense fortunes garnered from prosperity theologies—reshaped the Brazilian relationship between Christian piety, national culture, and secular government. Today, Pentecostal and neo-Pentecostal churches sustain a transnational culture that connects Christians across Latin America, dynamically reshaping both social relations and Latin American Christianity itself.
Sarah Abrevaya Stein
Despite significant achievements, certain challenges still confront the student of Sephardi and Middle Eastern Jewries. This article delineates four such challenges. First, the conceptual language and categories still need to be rethought: what is to be gained and lost by grouping Sephardi and Middle Eastern Jewries into one historical category? Second, while recent scholarship has challenged the ‘Sephardic Mystique’ and the ‘neo-lachrymose view of Jewish-Arab History’, there are other influential teleologies that warrant reconsideration, among them the teleologies of Westernization, modernization, and Zionism, all of which assume a Eurocentric perspective. Third, there remain numerous important gaps in the knowledge of Sephardi and Mizrahi culture and history, including social history, women's and gender history, comparative and inter-ethnic history. Fourth, there is still the task of using the scholarship on non-Ashkenazim to reconsider pre-existing assumptions about Jewish culture.
For many years, historical writing about the Jewish experience in modern western and central Europe was guided by emancipation and assimilation. Historians focused either on the transformations of Jewish society that accompanied the achievement or on the response this engendered in society at large. While this is still for the most part true, there has been a substantial broadening and deepening of the definitions, contours, and content of these concepts. This article provides an overarching framework looking at the core issues of identity, the minority perspective, the still-regnant emancipation paradigm, the Jewish Question, and the east-west divide. Such issues pertain to the search for the modern. In other words, the many and various ways in which European Jews became modern is now a staple of historical discourse and can be said to characterize the historiography in this field.