Brian Goldstone, PhD,
Duke University, Cultural Anthropology
Brian Goldstone received his PhD in Cultural Anthropology from Duke University. His book project, The Miraculous Life: Scenes from the Charismatic Encounter in Northern Ghana,
explores the recent incursion of charismatic churches into northern Ghana, a rural, predominantly Muslim region whose inhabitants -- long the object of expropriations and interventions of various kinds -- have increasingly become the target of evangelistic efforts undertaken by Christians from the south. Arranged as a gathering of disparate scenes, an approach that makes use of a wide array of ethnographic, literary, philosophical, video/photographic, and historical materials, the book charts the intimate, intensive, often precarious worlds that materialize as believers labor to make the "miraculous life" their own; and also, against the backdrop of a vigorous campaign aimed at reconstituting the social, moral, and spiritual disposition of an alleged "Islamic stronghold," the ways this reality, this life, is made available to others.
Brian is currently at work on a second long-term ethnographic study, which focuses on the recent, controversial emergence of Pentacostal healing camps as an alternative site for the diagnosis and treatment of various mental disorders. According to a growing catalog of human rights reports, the therapeutic methods deployed in these camps -- where mental illness is invariably deemed the product of a demonic "spirit of madness" -- include chaining patients to trees for weeks on end, depriving them of food and water, and subjecting them to a range of physical and emotional humiliations. This project situates the emergence and consequences of such phenomena within the contemporary nexus of global biomedicine, development and humanitarianism, theologies of health and healing, and the ethics and affects of affliction. Other ongoing projects include a critical appraisal of the chronic recourse to sovereignty in current theorizing, and the possibilities for "life" and adjacent figures (creation, potentiality, expression) that might surface in its wake; a comparative study on demonology; and, as part of a broader interest in anthropological history and theory, an exploration of the distinctive passions and sensations -- the awe, curiosity, aversion, even horror -- of anthropology's encounter with its worlds.
His articles have appeared or are forthcoming in South Atlantic Quarterly, History of the Present, Theory & Event, Anthropological Quarterly, and the collection Secularism and Religion-Making (Oxford University Press, 2011). A co-edited volume, African Futures: Essays on Crisis, Emergence, and Possibility, is under review at the University of Chicago Press.
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