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New ethnography of Christianity among the Bidayuh of Sarawak

October 27, 2011

The Christianity of Culture
Conversion, Ethnic Citizenship, and the Matter of Religion in Malaysian Borneo
Liana Chua

Series: Contemporary Anthropology of Religion
Palgrave Macmillan

I have greatly enjoyed reading this book. This is twenty-first century ethnography at its best. Based on extended fieldwork among the Bidayuh of Sarawak, in Malaysian Borneo, The Christianity of Culture deftly weaves its empirical and theoretical strands around an ethnographic puzzle: why have most Bidayuh Christians chosen not to sever their ties with the ‘old ways’? In search of an answer, Chua crafts a compelling account of Bidayuhs’ struggles with a new religious, economic and political order following Sarawak’s ‘independence through Malaysia’ in 1963. Along the way, we learn a great deal about the complex interrelations between Bidayuh sociality, materiality and religious praxis at a time of swift cultural change.

Contents:

Looking Like a Culture: Moden-ity and Multiculturalism in a Malaysian Village
Following the Rice Year: Adat Gawai, Past and Present
The Making of a ‘Not Yet Pure Christian’ Village
Why Bidayuhs Don’t Want to Become Muslim: Ethnicity, Christianity, and the Politics of Religion
Speaking of (Dis)Continuity: Cultures of Christianity and the Christianization of ‘Culture’
‘We are One in Jesus’? Sociality, Salvation, and Moral Dilemmas
Thinking through Adat Gawai: ‘Culture,’ Transformation, and the Matter of Religiosity

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