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ThingsReligion and the Question of Materiality$
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Dick Houtman and Birgit Meyer

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780823239450

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823239450.001.0001

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Dangerous Things: One African Genealogy

Dangerous Things: One African Genealogy

(p.40) Dangerous Things: One African Genealogy

Matthew Engelke

Fordham University Press

Addressing the problematic Protestant stance with regard to materiality, and informed by fieldwork conducted in Zimbabwe, this chapter discusses the logic of materiality among the Friday apostolics, who are deeply committed to a semiotic ideology of immateriality, understanding even the Bible as obstructing a direct connection to God. The “problem of presence” entailed by this semiotic ideology is solved by a semiotic coding of the “material” stuff of “sticky honey” as basically “immaterial.” This proves to be an awkward, unstable, and vulnerable code, however, which underscores that “materiality” and “immateriality” are not simply given but actively produced and constructed.

Keywords:   Protestantism, Materiality and immateriality, Problem of presence, Semiotic ideology, Friday apostolics, Zimbabwe

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