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Seekers and Things: Spiritual Movements and Aesthetic Difference in Kinshasa

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Seekers and Things

Spiritual Movements and Aesthetic Difference in Kinshasa

Peter Lambertz

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308 pages, 25 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-669-0 25% OFF! $130.00/£92.00 $97.50/£69.00 Hb Published (December 2017)

eISBN 978-1-78533-670-6 eBook

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“Lambertz’s study offers a great example of the value of material religion scholarship, focusing on objects and the performance of aesthetic difference. Combining this framework with an analysis of conflicting semiotic ideologies also proves very fruitful…As a white European… Lambertz is put in a unique position, able to explore a very original topic in postcolonial DR Congo, with the promise of exciting research yet to come.” • Reading Religion

“This completely original book offers a vivid, innovative perspective on new religions in the postcolonial context of Central Africa. • Filip De Boeck, Institute for Anthroplogical Research in Africa, University of Leuven

“An exceptionally valuable study, addressing an original topic.” • Peter Geschiere, University of Amsterdam


Focusing on the intricate presence of a Japanese new religion (Sekai Kyûseikyô) in the densely populated and primarily Christian environment of Kinshasa (DR Congo), this ethnographic study offers a practitioner-orientated perspective to create a localized picture of religious globalization. Guided by an aesthetic approach to religion, the study moves beyond a focus limited to text and offers insights into the role of religious objects, spiritual technologies and aesthetic repertoires in the production and politics of difference. The boundaries between non-Christian religious minorities and the largely Christian public sphere involve fears and suspicion of "magic" and "occult sciences".

Peter Lambertz is a post-doc fellow at the German Historical Institute (Paris) and the Centre des recherches sur les politiques sociales in Dakar. He holds a joint PhD from the universities of Utrecht and Leipzig (Religious Studies/African Studies) and has been teaching at the Philosophat Edith Stein in Kisangani.

Subject: General Anthropology Religion Refugee & Migration Studies
Area: Africa


List of Illustrations


Chapter 1. ‘Light in the Darkness’: Towards a Congolese Spiritual Movement ‘from Japan’
Chapter 2. Occult Sciences: (il)legitimate Secrecy and the Infrapolitics of Suspicion
Chapter 3. Blossoming Boundaries: (Re-)production and Contestation of Japanese Flower Practices
Chapter 4. Cleansing the City: Touch, Rubbish and Citizenship
Chapter 5. Experiencing Faith: Crisis, Miracles and Spiritual Healing
Chapter 6. (In) Touch without Contact: Johrei and the Aura of the Self
Chapter 7. Vibrating Words: Performative Silence and the Power of Words
Chapter 8. Imported Tradition: ‘Ancestor Worship’ as Reverse Orientalism



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