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Palgrave Macmillan

Indigenous Churches

Anthropology of Christianity in Lowland South America

  • Book
  • © 2022


  • Focuses on the dynamics of indigenous lowland South American Christianities
  • Brings studies of Christianity in Amazonia and Gran Chaco into dialogue for the first time
  • Provides a South American contribution to the theoretical project of the anthropology of Christianity

Part of the book series: Contemporary Anthropology of Religion (CAR)

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About this book

This book raises the question of what an Indigenous church is and how its members define their ties of affiliation or separation. Establishing a pioneering dialogue between Amazonian and Gran Chaco studies on Indigenous Christianity, the contributions address historical processes, cosmological conceptions, ritual practices, leadership dynamics, and material formations involved in the creation and diversification of Indigenous churches. Instead of focusing on the study of missionary ideologies and praxis, the book explores Indigenous peoples' interpretations of Christianity and the institutional arrangements they make to create, expand, or dismantle their churches. In doing so, the volume offers a South American contribution to the theoretical project of the anthropology of Christianity, especially as it relates to the issue of denominationalism and inter-denominational relations. 

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Table of contents (9 chapters)


"These studies contribute to extending anthropological knowledge of Indigenous Christianities by offering an updated account of religious affiliation in the South American lowlands, its varied links with colonization, modernity and interethnic networks, and above all of the inter-denominational relations between contemporary native churches. To paraphrase Saint Augustine, no one shall move Indigenous Christians from the faith that binds their minds with so many and such strong ties to the Christian religion. This volume helps us to understand why." (Diego Villar, IICS-CONICET/UCA, Argentina)

"Indigenous Churches is a landmark volume in the regional anthropology of Latin America and a welcome contribution to the study of native Christianities worldwide. The strength of this edited book lies both in the scope and diversity of its contributors, representing an extraordinary range of national academic affiliations and field sites, and also in the remarkable coherence of the key themes the authors explore. These themes reflect the historical moment we find ourselves in, one in which indigenous churches are established institutions which operate at several scales of governance and carry their own historical and political depth. The rich ethnographies presented here span the entire sub-continent and provide incisive case-studies of the 'plurality' of native churches, of the complexity of indigenous belief and the ontological dynamism of inter-denominational relationships within and beyond Christianity." (Vanessa Grotti, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Bologna)

Editors and Affiliations

  • Mondes Américains, Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS), Paris, France

    Élise Capredon

  • Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Argentina

    César Ceriani Cernadas

  • Department of Study of Religion, University of Turku, Turku, Finland

    Minna Opas

About the editors

Élise Capredon is Postdoctoral Researcher at Mondes Américains (EHESS-CNRS, France) and member of the ANR project “AMAZ”. 

César Ceriani Cernadas is Senior Researcher of the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET) at the Institute of Anthropological Sciences of the University of Buenos Aires.

Minna Opas is Senior Lecturer in Study of Religion and Associate Professor of Anthropology of Religion at the University of Turku, Finland. 

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: Indigenous Churches

  • Book Subtitle: Anthropology of Christianity in Lowland South America

  • Editors: Élise Capredon, César Ceriani Cernadas, Minna Opas

  • Series Title: Contemporary Anthropology of Religion

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Cham

  • eBook Packages: Social Sciences, Social Sciences (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2022

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-3-031-14493-6Published: 02 January 2023

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-3-031-14496-7Published: 03 January 2024

  • eBook ISBN: 978-3-031-14494-3Published: 01 January 2023

  • Series ISSN: 2946-3475

  • Series E-ISSN: 2946-3483

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XXVII, 235

  • Number of Illustrations: 6 b/w illustrations, 6 illustrations in colour

  • Topics: Religious Studies, general, Ethnography, Ethnography

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