Suomen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society https://journal.fi/suomenantropologi <p><em>Suomen Antropologi – Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society</em> is an open access peer-reviewed publication which accepts scholarly articles, review articles, research reports, critical essays, conference reports, book reviews, and news and information in the field of anthropology and related studies.</p> The Finnish Anthropological Society en-US Suomen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society 1799-8972 <p>Copyright and publishing rights for texts published in <em>Suomen antropologi</em> is retained by the authors, with first publication rights granted to the journal. By virtue of their appearance in this open access journal, texts are free to use, with proper attribution and link to the licensing, in educational settings. <em>Suomen antropologi</em> uses by default the CC BY-NC 4.0 license, which requires attribution and prohibits commercial use. Authors are however free to choose a different CC license (e.g. CC BY, CC, CC BY-SA, CC BY-ND, CC BY-NC-ND), for example in order to comply with the requirements set by the funders of their research.</p> Introduction to the special issue https://journal.fi/suomenantropologi/article/view/124754 <p>Rules are a crucial part of much religious thought and practice. Their importance or insignificance, their strictness or laxness, and their rigidity or flexibility in the face of change are constant themes of debate, both within and outside religious communities. Yet they have arguably not been given the attention they deserve within recent anthropology. Since the rise of practice theory, rules have more often been considered something to look past in the search for agency. Where the new anthropology of ethics has addressed religious orthopraxy, it has largely been through the lens of the cultivation of virtuous self, or the ways in which moral rules may become especially salient in extraordinary circumstances, such as moments of radical cultural transformation. But religious rules are not just a function of ethical crisis or virtuoso projects of the self. They are also a taken-for-granted part of everyday life for millions of people worldwide. In this introduction and the case studies that follow, we thus aim to move beyond current perspectives, reflecting on both the nature of religious rules themselves and the ways in which they are negotiated in believers’ everyday lives.</p> <p>Keywords: Rules; anthropology; religion; ethics</p> Henni Alava Morgan Clarke Alessandro Gusman Copyright (c) 2022 Henni Alava, Morgan Clarke, Alessandro Gusman http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0 2022-11-21 2022-11-21 46 3 6 15 10.30676/jfas.124754 Religious rules and thick description: some thoughts from the anthropology of Islam https://journal.fi/suomenantropologi/article/view/115500 <p>The recent anthropology of ethics has sought to look beyond rules to themes such as the cultivation of the virtuous self. Anthropology generally has grown impatient with what Bourdieu called ‘the fallacies of the rule’ as a key term for describing the social. But rules remain a crucial dimension of ethical practice in many contexts, including religious ones. This article focuses on British Muslim conceptions and practice of the religious rules of Islam in order to highlight the complexity, diversity, and subtlety of everyday practices of rule-following. Sticking to the rules, even in the non-Muslim majority setting of the UK, is important to many, although what it means to follow the rules and how to do so are not always straightforward. By going beyond stereotypes of ‘mere’ ‘rigid’ rules, blindly followed or boldly evaded, I demonstrate both the necessity and the possibility of a thicker description of religious rules.</p> <p>Keywords: Rules; piety; ethics; morality; Islam; Shia; sharia</p> Morgan Clarke Copyright (c) 2022 Morgan Clarke http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0 2022-11-21 2022-11-21 46 3 16 31 10.30676/jfas.115500 Bending, Breaking and Adhering to Rules of Contemporary Jewish Practice in Finland https://journal.fi/suomenantropologi/article/view/115509 <p>This article draws on an ongoing research project that seeks to document ethnographically everyday Jewish life in Finland today. Based on the framework of <em>vernacular religion</em>, it approaches religion “as it is lived” (Primiano 1995) and analyses the many expressions and experiences of rules in day-to-day Jewish life as part of complex interactions between individuals, institutions, and religious motivations. Historical data, institutional structures and cultural context are put in dialogue with individual narratives and nuances, described as “self-motivated” ways of “doing” religion.</p> <p>In this article, we seek to investigate what a vernacular Jewish approach to making, bending, and breaking rules amounts to in a community where increasing diversity and deep-reaching secularity contest and reshape traditional boundaries of belonging. What rules are accepted, adopted and appropriated as necessary or meaningful for being and doing Jewish? Our analysis traces how static values and conceptions of “Jewishness” give way to more flexible subjective positions as our interviewees struggle to find religiously and culturally significant models from the past that can be subjectively appropriated today. Both everyday quandaries and existential questions influence their ways of crafting vernacular religious positions. Focusing on formal and personal rituals related particularly to family life and foodways, the article shows how rules are revisited and refashioned as the traditional boundaries between sacred and secular, gendered practices and ethnic customs, are transgressed and subjective combinations are developed.</p> <p><strong>Keywords: </strong>vernacular Judaism; Jews in Finland; ethnography; religion and rule; kashrut; Jewish family life; Jewish rituals</p> Ruth Illman Mercédesz Czimbalmos Dóra Pataricza Copyright (c) 2022 Ruth Illman, Mercédesz Czimbalmos, Dóra Pataricza http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0 2022-11-21 2022-11-21 46 3 32 51 10.30676/jfas.115509 Purity rules in Pentecostal Uganda https://journal.fi/suomenantropologi/article/view/115525 <p>Rules concerning romantic relationships and sex—what we term ‘purity rules’—are central to Pentecostalism in Uganda. In public church arenas, the born-again variant of the rules laid down during Uganda’s ‘ABC’ response to HIV/AIDS — ‘abstain till marriage and be faithful once you marry’—are presented as clear and non-negotiable. Yet in church members’ lives, and in their conversations with each other or in small church groups, space is often created for interpretation and deliberation about the officially strict rules. In this article, we use ethnographic material from fieldwork in urban Pentecostal churches in Uganda to describe how rules work on people, and people work on rules. We describe this process of relational ‘rulework’ as taking place at the nexus of an individual’s relationship to the church, to small groups at the church, and to God. The dynamics of rulework become particularly evident at occasions where rules are transgressed, or where the nature of the rules—and thus of possible transgression—is questioned. Three central axes of rulework can be identified: first, the (claimed) transgressor’s position in church hierarchy; second, the level of publicity at which their transgression is made known to others; and third, their relationship to God. Approaching rules as objects of anthropological analysis foregrounds how what Morgan Clarke (2015) has called the ‘ruliness’ of religious traditions, and what we describe as the messiness of religious adherents’ lives, exist in parallel with each other. Where ‘ruliness’ and ‘messiness’ interact is where rulework takes place and where it can most productively be ethnographically observed.</p> <p>Keywords: Morality, ethics, religion, sex, transgression</p> Henni Alava Alessandro Gusman Copyright (c) 2022 Henni Alava, Alessandro Gusman http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0 2022-11-21 2022-11-21 46 3 52 70 10.30676/jfas.115525 ‘Thou shalt not worship idols’ https://journal.fi/suomenantropologi/article/view/116234 <p>Classic ethnographic studies focusing on traditional chieftaincy in Ghana, West Africa, have revolved around issues such as succession rules, installation rituals, or competition for positions of power. However, becoming and being a chief in a predominantly Christian society, like present-day Ghana, has raised new kinds of concerns. Many churches, particularly those that belong to the Pentecostal-charismatic movement, reject traditional ritual life aimed at ancestors and other kinds of spirits as immoral. Since chiefs are fundamentally ritual leaders, who perform sacrifices on behalf of their communities, chieftaincy has assumed an increasingly negative character in Pentecostal discourses. In them chieftaincy is often equated with ‘idol worship’ and thus in direct conflict with the Ten Commandments. Ethical rules of ‘world religions’, such as the Ten Commandments, transcend particularity and their strength is based on an impression that they are applicable everywhere. As pointed out by Webb Keane, this requires mediation work that makes the rules transportable and gives them a potential to be re-contextualized in different places. The article looks at how different interpretations of religious rules are used by Ghanaian Christians and chiefs when debating the in/compatibility of traditional chieftaincy with Christianity. These debates are understood as a part of a process of historical and cultural recontextualization, that is, determining what the commandments mean in the particular time and place that they inhabit.</p> Timo Kallinen Copyright (c) 2022 Timo Kallinen http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0 2022-11-21 2022-11-21 46 3 71 89 10.30676/jfas.116234 Editors' note https://journal.fi/suomenantropologi/article/view/124756 <p>This special issue is also the second issue we have overseen as editors-in-chief. In the last issue, we introduced our editorial team, the new editorial board, and our ‘vision’, namely, to maintain and develop the journal’s open access spirit started by the previous editors-in-chiefs. Here, in addition to introducing the special issue, we want to shortly explain how the journal is run and editorial editorial processes work.&nbsp; </p> Tuomas Tammisto Heikki Wilenius Copyright (c) 2022 Tuomas Tammisto, Heikki Wilenius http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0 2022-11-21 2022-11-21 46 3 1 5 10.30676/jfas.124756 Forum: Theology and the Anthropology of Christian Life https://journal.fi/suomenantropologi/article/view/124757 <p class="western" style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;" lang="en-GB"><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">We are glad to launch a new format of a dialogic book review symposium with Joel Robbins’s (2020) </span></span><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><em>Theology and the Anthropology of Christian Life</em></span></span><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">. With contributions from anthropologist Minna Opas, theologian Mika Vähäkangas, and a response from Robbins, this is the first instalment of dialogic encounters on books that cross disciplinary boundaries. Similar to Robbins’s (2020: 13) notion of ‘transformative dialogue’ between anthropology and theology, this new format takes dialogue to be at the heart of the art and practice of book reviewing. In future instalments, we invite scholars from different disciplines to comment on books written by anthropologists from the point of view of their interdisciplinary transformative potential, including the limits of this potential to be actualized in the present. At the core, we are interested in anthropological concept formation at the interface of fieldwork and other disciplines, and how anthropological concepts have influence beyond anthropological theory. If you have suggestions on books that you would like to propose for a dialogic book review symposium, please get in touch.</span></span></p> Anna-Riikka Kauppinen Copyright (c) 2022 Anna-Riikka Kauppinen http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0 2022-11-21 2022-11-21 46 3 90 90 10.30676/jfas.124757 On the premises and possibilities of dialogue https://journal.fi/suomenantropologi/article/view/124758 <p class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span lang="en-US">What would anthropology, enriched by theoretical resources drawn from the field of Christian theology, but remaining deeply engaged with the ethnography of everyday lived Christianities, look like? Is there a chance to develop a conversation between anthropology and theology that would be ‘transformative’ for both disciplines? These are the questions Joel Robbins sets out to examine in his book </span><span lang="en-US"><em>Theology and the Anthropology of Christian Life</em></span><span lang="en-US">. </span></p> Minna Opas Copyright (c) 2022 Minna Opas http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0 2022-11-21 2022-11-21 46 3 91 95 10.30676/jfas.124758 Judging from the Inside https://journal.fi/suomenantropologi/article/view/124759 <p class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;" lang="en-GB">Recent years have seen three monographs (and some anthologies) dealing with the relationship between theology or faith and sociocultural anthropology (referred to simply as “anthropology” from here onwards). Larsen’s <em>Slain God</em> (2014) analyses how early British anthropologists had a personal relationship with matters of faith while Furani’s <em>Redeeming Anthropology</em> (2019) agonises the hegemony of Enlightenment secularism in anthropology. What is common to these texts is that they do not differentiate between theological argumentation or theology as an academic discipline and personal faith. Joel Robbins’ latest book, <em>Theology and the Anthropology of Christian Life</em> (2020), recognises this difference, which is why, as a theological don of a non-confessional government-run university, I can recognise myself reflected in it. One of the reasons for Robbins’s ability to distinguish between the two may stem from his childhood experience concerning a rabbi who did not consider it absolutely necessary for proper execution of his work to be a believer, while many others probably would have (Robbins 2020: xii). The context of an academic theologian is the same: I may not consider that personal faith is a <em>sine qua non</em> of academic theology while some others certainly do.</p> Mika Vähäkangas Copyright (c) 2022 Mika Vähäkangas http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0 2022-11-21 2022-11-21 46 3 96 100 10.30676/jfas.124759 Response https://journal.fi/suomenantropologi/article/view/124761 <p>I am grateful to the editors of <em>Suomen antropologi</em> for inviting two such engaged and stimulating responses to Theology and the Anthropology of Christian Life, and to Minna Opas and Mika Vähäkangas for writing them. For a work that has been interdisciplinary from its inception—initially written by an anthropologist as a set of lectures to be delivered to an audience of academic theologians—it is hard to imagine a better pair of respondents. Both Opas and Vähäkangas are gifted ethnographers who know anthropology well, but at the same time they come to the book, respectively, from the study of religion and from theology. This gives these comments a welcome parallax view on the anthropology/theology relationship. As Opas and Vähäkangas both note, the dialogue between these two disciplines has been quite active lately, and their insightful responses raise important issues for that discussion.</p> Joel Robbins Copyright (c) 2022 Joel Robbins http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0 2022-11-21 2022-11-21 46 3 101 106 10.30676/jfas.124761