Faith in Schools: Religion, Education, and American Evangelicals in East Africa

By Amy Stambach | Go to book overview

7 A New Anthropological Ethnography
of Religion and Education

Theory

I offer this multisited study of a transnational Christian Church not only to provide an ethnographic illustration of the group's religious and educational activities but also to open up an inquiry at a higher analytic level. As I noted at the beginning of this work, education and evangelism sit in uneasy historical and conceptual relation to one another. Historian Terence Ranger, quoted in Chapter One, challenged anthropologists to see beyond the differences between the academy and the church, and to recognize (if not fully embrace) the shared precepts and practices of evangelism and ethnography. Such a recognition has yet to occur, although my hope is that this work has brought readers to a closer understanding of how religion and education in the particular formulations I have explored here go together. My argument has been that religion and education—specifically in this work, Christianity and schooling—structure and valorize divergent human experiences and sociocultural perspectives in different parts of the world. Religion and education are utopian spaces that define and transcend societal norms, and they are imaginative tropes and institutional forms that reinforce and challenge social and political differences. In this final chapter I wish to emphasize more how these coproduced relations help us recognize that, like Christian witness, anthropology itself is a matter of eyewitnessing. Anthropology is premised on the idea that to see is to know and that to be somewhere is to affirm that the “there” is real and knowable.

This seeing eye of anthropology, this empirical-rational method of personal testament and knowing, is developed in the school. That is, the academy is a place where knowledge is pulled out from experience, seen and studied, and analyzed. As a transnational institution, the school these days is (and for a long time has been) everywhere. All nation-states “have” them, as world culture theorists correctly note (see, for example, Meyer 2004; Ramirez 2003). The seeing eye developed in schools, however, is also informed by different ways of looking, different ways of experiencing and inhabiting the world, and different orientations to a shared history, including, as we have seen in East Africa, the history of colonialism

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Faith in Schools: Religion, Education, and American Evangelicals in East Africa
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • To Friends Here and There v
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Abbreviations xi
  • 1: Introduction: Schools of Faith 1
  • Part I - Preparation in the United States 33
  • 2: One Hundred Fifty Years of Mission Work 35
  • 3: Using Anthropology for Christian Witness 65
  • Part II - Evangelism in East Africa 97
  • 4: Teaching English in Tanzania 99
  • 5: Planting Church Schools in Kenya 132
  • 6: School-Community Partnerships in Uganda 154
  • Part III - Implications 179
  • 7: A New Anthropological Ethnography of Religion and Education 181
  • Epilogue 193
  • Reference Matter 197
  • Notes 199
  • References 209
  • Index 225
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