New co-edited book by Linfield professor looks at anthropology and religion

Professor Hillary CraneA new book co-edited by Professor Hillary Crane explores the challenges anthropologists face when they study groups that proselytize.

Conducting fieldwork may involve attending religious services, meditating, praying or making pilgrimages, Crane says. The collection of essays, Missionary Impositions: Conversion, Resistance, and other Challenges to Objectivity in Religious Ethnography, shows that anthropologists may unwittingly give the impression that their interest is more personal than professional. And that may encourage missionaries to seek a new convert.

The attitudes of researchers themselves can also get in the way, says Crane. Their feelings about religion, belief and faith, as well as their response to conversion pressures, may interfere with their objectivity.

Crane’s previous research has looked at how Taiwanese Buddhist nuns identify as masculine, and more recently, has focused on areas where religious and medical discourses intersect or conflict. She teaches classes on anthropology, religion, gender, sexuality, ethnicity and Asian cultures.

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