Working Session: Satan in the Pacific
Organizers: Christiane Falck and Fraser Macdonald
In this working session we want to explore the dark side of Christianity and get to know Satan in the Pacific. Who or what is Satan? How, where, and when do people encounter Lucifer, His Angels and demons? Where or what is Hell? While the belief in God and His agency has long been part of anthropological studies of religious change in the Pacific, His opponent has often only indirectly been present in our theorization of the powers that Christianity has on people’s lives. Anthropological writings have importantly addressed how for example the diabolisation (Meyer 1999) of local spirits and witchcraft/sorcery has integrated local cosmo-ontological and epistemological frameworks and Christianity (e.g. Barker 1990; Eriksen and Rio 2017; Gesch 2015; Macdonald 2015), or how discourses of ‘666’ and the coming of the Anti-Christ (e.g. Robbins 1997; Strathern and Stewart 1997) affect people’s lives. Yet, Satan himself seems to have escaped a more detailed study. Thus, we would like to explore what new insights a focus on the personification of evil in our understanding of Christianity in the Pacific has to offer. Does God only exist where Satan also reigns? What faces, genders, powers, and spatial distributions does Satan have? Is the devil a cosmological entity or only existent as part of a rhetoric that makes sense of individual imperfection, immorality, and wretchedness? What does Satan do and why? Are there denominational differences in the ways people encounter, live with, and make sense of Satan? We ask interested participants to send us abstracts of no more than 300 words. In preparation for the working session participants will be asked to write a paper of approx. 4000 words for pre-circulation among participants in preparation for our meeting.
Christiane Falck <firstname.lastname@example.org>;
Fraser Macdonald <email@example.com>
Barker, John 1990. Encounters with Evil: Christianity and the Response to Sorcery among the Maisin of Papua New Guinea. Oceania 61(2): 139-155.
Eriksen, Annelin and Knut Rio 2017. Demons, Devils, and Witches in Pentecostal Port Vila: On Changing Cosmologies of Evil in Melanesia. In Knut Rio, Michelle MacCarthy and Ruy Blances (eds.), Pentecostalism and Witchcraft. Spiritual Warfare in Africa and Melanesia. Cham: Palgrace Macmillan, 189-210.
Eves, Richard 2003. Money, Mayhem and the Beast: Narratives of the World’s End from New Ireland (Papua New Guinea). The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 9(3):527-547.
Gesch, Patrick F. 2015. Talking Sanguma: The Social Process of Discernment of Evil in Two Sepik Societies. In Miranda Forsyth and Richard Eves (eds.), Talking it Through. Responses to Sorcery and Witchcraft Beliefs and Practices in Melanesia. Canberra: ANU Press, 111-129.
Macdonald, Fraser 2015. ‘Lucifer Is Behind Me’: The Diabolisation of Oksapmin Witchcraft as Negative Cosmological Integration. The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology 16(5):464-480.
Meyer, Birgit 1999. Translating the Devil: Religion and Modernity among the Ewe in Ghana. Trenton. NJ: Africa World Press.
Robbins, Joel 1997. 666, or why is the Millennium on the skin? Morality, the state and the epistemology of apocalypticism among the Urapmin of Papua New Guinea. In Pamela J. Stewart and Andrew Strathern (eds.), Millennial Markers. Townsville: Centre for Pacific Studies, 35-58.
Strathern, Andrew and Pamela J. Stewart 1997. Introduction: Millennial Markers in the Pacific. In Pamela J. Stewart and Andrew Strathern (eds.), Millennial Markers. Townsville: Centre for Pacific Studies, 1-17.