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Field notes

1st guest blogger Peter Lambertz

Peter Lambertz (*1981)

Biography

Born and raised in Eupen, Belgium, I studied History in Louvain-la-Neuve and Brussels (mémoire de licence on 13th century history of thought), then added an MA in Global Studies at Leipzig university (with exchange semesters in Stellenbosch (ZA) and Wroclaw (PL)). Since 2009 I am member of the graduate school “Critical Junctures of Globalization” at Leipzig university (funded by DFG, the German research fund). My PhD project is currently entitled “Doing Japanese religion in Kinshasa. Of flowers, ancestors and healing performances in a Congolese religious movement ‘from Japan’.” Supervisors are Adam Jones and Birgit Meyer (co-tutelle).

Research

Based on anthropological methods, my research focusses on the local branch of the „Japanese“ religious movement „Église Messianique Mondiale” (orig. Sekai Kyuseikyo) in Kinshasa (DR Congo). I analyze processes of (re-)signification of cultural materials that for EMM’s members qualify as „Japanese“. These materials range from ritual activities such as ancestor veneration, Johrei (EMM’s healing and purification practice), flower arrangement (Ikebana-Sangetsu), church witnessing and the production of religious song, to intellectual negotiation processes of aethiology, eschatology (ancestrality, heaven and hell), millennialism and the origin of evil. Ancestor veneration and the usage of religious artefacts (flowers, amulets) also act as symbolic boundaries by instigating cohesion and distinction in Kinshasa’s social space. Linked to this is the movement’s quest for „originality“ through its transnational connections and strategies of spatial referencing (Angola-Brazil-Japan). Another axis of enquiry looks at the question of coincidence, continuity or change with regards to putative patterns of central Bantu religion as they are consciously and sub-consciously repeated by the members of EMM.

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The Congo Research Network (CRN) is a community of researchers working on DR Congo and its diaspora across the Humanities

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