This work is an ethnographic account of the work of transnational, Christian non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Zimbabwe. Religious NGOs are one of the voices of pluralism in southern Africa, sometimes challenging the state and at others collaborating with it. The tensions of such engagement are key to understanding the successes and failures of transnational, humanitarian endeavours to foster democratic governance in Zimbabwe. While much scholarship has been focused, theoretically, on the role of NGOs in democratisation in Africa regarding international foreign policy, few studies offer empirically grounded insights into how transnational NGOs operate. The Spirit of Development addresses, ethnographically, how an American discourse of Christian humanitarianism transforms and is transformed by local settings. The book builds on scholarship on Christian missionaries in Africa to interrogate the religious dimensions of economic change.
Situated in Zimbabwe of the late 1990s, the project engages with scholarship on a range of intersecting topics, including: development studies, the politics of transnational foreign aid, the politics of neoliberal economic discourse, recent debates on civil societies and states in Africa, the global politics of religion, and classical anthropological research on religious conversion. In the late 1990s, religious NGOs were on the forefront of reconfiguring humanitarian aid in Africa - entering where the welfare programmes of African states were unable to provide even basic services for citizens. Today, religious NGOs occupy a peculiar structural and ideologocal position in contemporary Africa, working in collaboration with African states and simultaneously providinh moral critique.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements; Abbreviations; Introduction: An Ethnography of faith-based Development; Chapter 1: Background: Three Perspectives on Missions in Zimbabwe; Chapter 2: Theologies of Development: Faith, Holism and Lifestyle Evangelism; Chapter 3: Child Sponsorship, Evangelism and Belonging; Chapter 4: The Politics of Transcendence; Chapter 5: Participation as a Religious Act; Chapter 6: Good, Evil and the Legitimation of Success; Conclusion; Appendix 1: Interviews, Group Discussions and Events; Appendix 2: Zimbabwe Council of Churches; Notes; Bibliography; Index.
Erica Bornstein currently teaches in the Department of Cultural and Social Anthropology at Stanford University.