The Politics of Conversion: Religious Change, Materiality and Social Hierarchy in Central Upland Borneo

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Abstract

Contrary to the assumption that religious conversion is strongly influenced by the hegemony of global forces (colonialism and modern state formation) over local communities, this paper argues that internal class antagonisms and material conditions also play an important role in the dynamics of adoption of or resistance to Christianity. By taking narratives of inter-class contestation between aristocrats (paren) and commoners (panyin) and ritual changes among the Kayan-Kenyah in upland Central Borneo during periods of religious conversion, this paper shows the significance of social hierarchy on people’s decisions to change or retain their religious practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-134
Number of pages16
JournalAsia Pacific Journal of Anthropology
Volume18
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2017

Keywords

  • Christianity
  • Conversion
  • Globalisation
  • Materiality
  • Political Economy
  • Upland Borneo

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