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Anthro Lecture Series

Aug 24 at 8:56pm - Elizabeth Sutton

Tuesday, May 13th at 6pm

In the Anthropology Museum, Old Main 252
Kimberly J. Marshall, University of Oklahoma

Dancing in the Spirit: Navajo Pentecostalism and the Alternative Agencies of Non-Human Actors

Since 1950, Neo-Pentecostalism has grown exponentially among Navajos of the US Southwest.  Calling themselves Oodlání (‘Believers’), this Navajo-led, Navajo-speaking, and independently operating religious movement now claims the exclusive allegiance of up to 20% of the Navajo population. On any summer night, the lighted white tents of Oodlání revivals dot the high-desert landscape. Inside, to the accompaniment of music blasted through enormous generator-powered PA systems, dozens of Navajo bodies are rocking, bobbing, swaying, spinning, and shuddering in an impressive display of what anthropologists of religion might call spirit possession. For Oodlání, however, these inspired believers are charismatically "filled” with the Holy Spirit, and their erratic movements are better understood as a "dance.” 

In this talk, I discuss the spread of neo-Pentecostalism among Navajos and show how expressive culture at tent revivals (such as "dancing in the Spirit”) reveals that neo-Pentecostalism is both incorporative of Navajo culture and resistant to it.  Specifically, I explore how the charismatic practice of "dancing in the Spirit” demonstrates that Navajo Pentecostals understand the agency of non-human actors in importantly novel ways.


About the anthropologist: Kimberly J. Marshall serves as Assistant Professor of Sociocultural Anthropology at the University of Oklahoma, where she teaches courses on Native North America, social theory, and the anthropology of religion. With a background in Folklore and Ethnomusicology, Marshall is broadly interested in theorizing expressive culture and culture change. Specifically, she works with Diné Oodlání (Navajo ‘Believers’), a growing movement of Navajos who practice charismatic neo-Pentecostal Christianity. She has recently begun exploring the ways that expressive forms (and the ideas they carry) travel along social networks.

This public lecture is FREE and light refreshments are provided.

The Museum of Anthropology is pleased to host prominent anthropologists from around the nation for public lectures. Lectures are on Friday nights and all members of the public are welcome to attend the FREE events.

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