Wood, “Initiating God’s Word”

Wood, Michael. 2011. Initiating God’s Word Into the Kamula’s Recent Past. The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology. 12(1): 74-90.

Abstract: Elements of the Kamula people’s celebration of their version of the New Testament involved the conjunction of two transformed ritual sequences. One was based on a standard Summer Institute of Linguistics Bible Dedication ceremony, and the other, transformations of pre-colonial ritual sequences concerning initiation and raiding. This conjunction created the possibility of at least two overtly distinct, but intersecting, interpretations—one suggesting that Kamula custom could be transformed by, and contextualised in, Christian narratives, and another, suggesting Christianity could be modified and enhanced by Kamula custom. In the Dedication ceremony, these positions were expressed through figure-ground reversal. By outlining some of the ways the Dedication ceremony enacted these possibilities, I argue that these ceremonies can be sites for the production of interesting local accounts of religious change influenced by Christianity.

A part of the special issue: Negotiating the Horizon-Living Christianity in Melanesia