Radical Quakerism: a political anthropology of postmodern religion

Evans, Andrew D (2021) Radical Quakerism: a political anthropology of postmodern religion. Doctoral thesis, University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

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Abstract

This thesis presents an ethnographic case study into the political anthropology of contemporary religion. By exploring the ‘liquid’ faith of participants in the Religious Society of Friends (‘Quakers’), it carefully examines the social and political practices that constitute the ‘postmodern’ religious subject. Drawing on poststructuralist theory, the research combines critical ethnography with discourse-theoretical analysis. It is framed by a conception of politics as a historically-contingent process that orders human coexistence in conditions of difference and disagreement (Mouffe 2005). Religion is thus always ‘political’ insofar as it is the site of a struggle to stabilise meanings and identities. The resultant ‘politics of religion’ are the practices, discourses and institutions that construct a contestable social form and define its relation to ‘the world’. We discover amongst Friends a regime of practices that, following Foucault, may be called a ‘political spirituality’. Radical Quakerism emerges as a particular form of political dissent practiced as an ethics of self dis-enclosure. It entails a spiritual self-discipline that resists closure, refuses power and subverts the threat of conflict. Conditioned by contingency, its spatial and signifying practices are a movement towards meaning that does not claim the finality of a ‘truth’. It produces instead a gathered ‘sense’ of what can be said and of what may be. The spiritual practice of political action is therefore the articulation of hope with the uncertainty of faith. An encounter with the ‘other’ exposes the subject to an event that opens a horizon to social and personal transformation. Consequently, we find a ‘spiritual politics’ bequeathed by the Quakers is a pluralistic politics of becoming one-self. It is practiced as a fugitive political spirituality that may escape and evade any particular form but permanently haunts the social as the spirit of change.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: religion, politics, theology, radical, political anthropology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BX Christian Denominations
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences > HX Socialism. Communism. Anarchism
J Political Science > JC Political theory
Divisions: Theses and Dissertations > Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: Andrew David Evans
Date Deposited: 04 Nov 2021 09:22
Last Modified: 04 Nov 2021 09:22
URI: https://repository.uwtsd.ac.uk/id/eprint/1819

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