Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Open Theology

Editor-in-Chief: Taliaferro, Charles

1 Issue per year

Open Access
Online
ISSN
2300-6579
See all formats and pricing
More options …

Ethnographic Ecclesiology and the Challenges of Scholarly Situatedness

Gitte Buch-Hansen / Kirsten Donskov Felter / Marlene Ringgaard Lorensen
Published Online: 2015-09-03 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opth-2015-0009

Abstract

This article reflects on the importance of being aware of one’s own situatedness when carrying out empirical research. The unforeseen outcome of a project in which we studied converting refugees’ encounter with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark provoked these reflections. The fieldwork was carried out in a particular congregation in Copenhagen that has attracted many asylum seekers, primarily of Muslim background. The empirical work revealed that the scholars, as participant observers, experienced the situation in the congregation quite differently than did the refugees. Initially, the scholars did not recognise conflicts and problems related to ethnicity, gender and class among the various groups of refugees. However, interviews based on the refugees’ documentation of their experiences with and within the congregation allowed different perspectives to be articulated. On one hand, perceptual blind spots inspired reflection on the epistemological deficit that characterised the scholarly habitus. On the other, our theological training did enable us to understand the migrant converts’ specific interpretation of the Christian Gospel. The article concludes that it is important to see informants as collaborators with regard to both scholarly reflexivity and the concrete outcome of research in a shared quest for ecclesiological knowledge.

Keywords: Practical theology; fieldwork; habitus; reflexivity; conversion; migration; ethnicity; locative/ utopian religion; trauma theology

References

  • Beouku-Betts, Josephine A. “We Got Our Way of Cooking Things: Women, Food, and Preservation of Cultural Identity among the Gullah.” Gender and Society, 9:5 (1995), 535-555. Google Scholar

  • Beyer, Peter. “Socially Engaged Religion in a Post-Westphalian Global Context: Remodeling the Secular/Religious Distinction.” Sociology of Religion, 73:2 (2012), 109-129. Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Bourdieu, Pierre and Loïc Wacquant. An Invitation to Reflexive Sociology. Cambridge: Polity Press, 1992. Google Scholar

  • Brewer, Marilynn B. and Barry E. Collins. Scientific Inquiry and the Social Sciences. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1981. Google Scholar

  • Cappellini, Benedetta and Elizabeth Parsons. “Sharing the Meal: Food Consumption and Family Identity.” In Research in Consumer Behavior, 14, edited by Russell W. Belk, Søren Askegaard, Linda Scott, 109-128. Bingley, UK: Emerald Group Publishing, 2012. Google Scholar

  • Felter, Kirsten Donskov. “Breaking with Illusio. The Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu as a Challenge to Theology.” Studia Theologica. Nordic Journal of Theology, 66:1 (2012), 80-97. Google Scholar

  • Fischler, Claude. “Food, Self and Identity.” Social Science Information, 27:2 (1988), 275-92. Google Scholar

  • Foucault, Michel. “Of Other Spaces: Utopias and Heterotopias.” In Rethinking Architecture: A Reader in Cultural Theory, edited by Neil Leach, 330-336. New York: Routledge, 1997. http://www.vizkult.org/propositions/alineinnature/pdfs/Foucault-OfOtherSpaces1967.pdf. Accessed June 22, 2015. Google Scholar

  • Fulkerson, Mary McClintock. “Foreword.” In Ethnography as Christian Theology and Ethics, edited by Christian Scharen and Aana Marie Vigen, xi-xvi. London/New York: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2011. Google Scholar

  • Geertz, Clifford. The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays. New York: Basic, 1973. Google Scholar

  • Gordon, Deborah A. “Border Work: Feminist Ethnography and the Dissemination of Literacy.” In Women Writing Culture, edited by Ruth Behar and Deborah A. Gordon, 373-389. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995. Google Scholar

  • Jones, Serene. Trauma and Grace: Theology in a Ruptured World. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009. Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Johnson, Richard and Deborah Chambers and Raghuram Parvati and Estella Tincknell. The Practice of Cultural Studies. London: Sage Publications, 2004. Google Scholar

  • Kleinman, Sheryl and Martha A. Copp. Emotions and Fieldwork. Qualitative Research Methods Vol. 28. Newbury Park, Calif./London: Sage Publications, 1993. Google Scholar

  • Lausten, Martin Schwarz. “The History: The Church from the Reformation to the Present.” In A Brief Guide to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark edited by Rebekka Højmark Svenningsen, 12-21. København, Aros, 2013. Google Scholar

  • Lévinas, Emmanuel. Totality and Infinity: An Essay on Exteriority, Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1991 (Orig. publ.: Totalité et infini: Essai sur l’extériorité, 1961). Google Scholar

  • Lévinas, Emmanuel. Otherwise than Being or Beyond Essence. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1981 (Orig. publ.: Autrement qu’être ou au-delà de l’essence, 1974). Google Scholar

  • LeVine, Robert A. “Knowledge and Fallibility in Anthropological Field Research.” In Scientific Inquiry and the Social Sciences edited by Marilynn B. Brewer and Barry E. Collins, 172-193. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1981. Google Scholar

  • Lüchau, Peter. ”Seks teser om danskernes medlemsskab af folkekirken.” In Fremtidens danske religionsmodel, edited by Hans Ravn Iversen, Lisbet Christoffersen, Niels Kærgård and Margit Warburg, 311-328. København: Anis, 2012. Google Scholar

  • McClure, John S. Other-wise Preaching: A Postmodern Ethic for Homiletics. St. Louis: Chalice Press, 2001. Google Scholar

  • Pilario, Daniel Franklin. Back to the Rough Grounds of Praxis. Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2005. Google Scholar

  • Rambo, Shelly. Spirit and Trauma: A Theology of Remaining. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010. Google Scholar

  • Sanjek, Roger. “The Secret Life of Fieldnotes.” In Fieldnotes: The Makings of Anthropology, edited by Roger Sanjek, 187-270. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1990. Google Scholar

  • Scharen, Christian and Aana Marie Vigen. Ethnography as Christian Theology and Ethics. London/New York: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2011. Google Scholar

  • Schweitzer, Albert. Die Mystik des Apostels Paulus. Tübingen: Mohr, 1981. (Neudruck der 1. Auflage 1930). Google Scholar

  • Smith, Jonathan Z. Map Is not Territory: Studies in the History of Religions. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1970 (1978). Google Scholar

  • Smith, Jonathan Z. Drudgery Divine: On the Comparison of Early Christianities and the Religions of Late Antiquity. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago, 1990. Google Scholar

  • Stewart, Alex. The Ethographer’s Method. Qualitative Research Methods Series 46. California: Sage Publications, 1998. Google Scholar

  • Svenningsen, Rebekka Højmark (ed.). A Brief Guide to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark. København, Aros, 2013. Google Scholar

  • Svenningsen, Rebekka Højmark. “Foreword.” In A Brief Guide to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark edited by Rebekka Højmark Svenningsen, 7-11. København, Aros, 2013. Google Scholar

  • Swinton, John and Harriet Mowat. Practical Theology and Qualitative Research. London, SMC Press, 2006. Google Scholar

  • Trolle, Astrid Krabbe. “Migrantkirker. Fra grænseflade til kerne i den danske religionsmodel.” Religionsvidenskabeligt Tidsskrift 62 (2015), 63-77. Google Scholar

  • West, Gerald O. (ed.) Reading Other-wise: Socially Engaged Biblical Scholars Reading with their Local Communities. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2007. Google Scholar

About the article


Received: 2015-04-21

Accepted: 2015-08-14

Published Online: 2015-09-03


Citation Information: Open Theology, ISSN (Online) 2300-6579, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opth-2015-0009.

Export Citation

©2015 Gitte Buch-Hansen et al.. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. BY-NC-ND 3.0

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in