Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details

Open Theology

Editor-in-Chief: Taliaferro, Charles

1 Issue per year

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




Ethnographic Ecclesiology and the Challenges of Scholarly Situatedness

Gitte Buch-Hansen
  • Department of Biblical Exegesis, Faculty of Theology, University of Copenhagen
/ Kirsten Donskov Felter
  • Centre for Church Research, Faculty of Theology, University of Copenhagen
/ Marlene Ringgaard Lorensen
  • Department of Systematic Theology, Faculty of Theology, University of Copenhagen
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.

  • 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 Science]

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

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

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

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

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

  • 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.

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

  • 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).

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • 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.

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

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

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


Received: 2015-04-21

Accepted: 2015-08-14

Published Online: 2015-09-03


Citation Information: Open Theology. Volume 1, Issue 1, ISSN (Online) 2300-6579, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opth-2015-0009, September 2015

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

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.