Accepted Paper:

Speaking, sincerity and spiritual authority among Nuba Christians in Sudan  

Author:

Siri Lamoureaux (University of Siegen)

Paper short abstract:

This paper will show how Nuba Christian women in the Sudan establish new forms of authority through their expression of sincerity in public praying and preaching, but how notions of sincerity of faith are debated, gendered and subject to situational intimate confirmation.

Paper long abstract:

Conflict-related Christianization happened for Moro Nuba in the space of ten years and in a radical fashion. The politicized forces which drove the need to break from 'things of the world' (i.e. Moro culture) paradoxically also drove a patriarchal indigenous movement that seeks to preserve this very culture. The tensions between these two movements are heavily debated, and largely expressed through moral guidelines on women's behavior. Nuba women's religious activities in the Church are relegated to a separate "women's day" women's special activities, spaces of intimacy where both confirmation and critique (Boltanski 2012) which often come in the form of "metapragmatic" comments (Silverstein 1993) on the male patriarchal religious agenda are expressed. A woman preachers' ability to index her sincerity in her speaking - that is - the power of the Holy Spirit - is the mark of her faith. While faith in Protestantism is thought to be a personal experience, these events are nonetheless public and performed; speaking is an accomplishment which is crucial for her authoritative social role. Outside the church, however, the speaker is subject to critiques and evaluations as to her rhetorical ability as a faithful Christian. I will present ethnographic data from two speakers, who represent two debated ideologies of sincerity: one is based in the notion of Moro pre-Christian femininity, the other based in the importance of being clear and articulate in a way "that men speak" indexing local notions of masculinity.

Panel P073
Religious intimacy: collaboration, collusion and collision in ritual communication