© 2013

The Anthropology of Religious Charisma

Ecstasies and Institutions

  • Editors
  • Charles Lindholm

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

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xi
  2. Introduction: Charisma in Theory and Practice

    1. Charles Lindholm
      Pages 1-30
  3. Performing Charisma

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 31-31
    2. Keping Wu
      Pages 33-57
  4. Gendering Charisma

  5. Religious Charisma and Politics

  6. Posthumous Charisma

  7. Back Matter
    Pages 239-248

About this book


According to Max Weber, charisma is opposed to bureaucratic order. This collection reveals the limits of that formula. The contributors show how charisma is a part of cultural frameworks while retaining its ecstatic character among American and Italian Catholics, Syrian Sufis, Taiwanese Buddhists, Hassidic Jews, and Amazonian shamans, among others.


anthropology community gender Institution Max Weber Nation politics Transnational Weber

About the authors

Sara M. Bergstresser, Boston University, USA Yoram Bilu, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel Ruy Llera Blanes, University of Bergen, Norway Gisele Fonseca Chagas, Fluminense Federal University, Brazil C. Julia Huang-Lemmon, National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan Eric Michael Kelley , Boston University, University of Massachusetts Boston, and Wheaton College, USA Paulo G. Pinto, Fluminense Federal University, Brazil Brendon Jamal Thornton, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA Keping Wu, National University of Singapore

Bibliographic information


"This edited volume makes a significant contribution to scholarship in the fields of anthropology, anthropology of religion, and sociology of religion, among other areas. Charisma is intriguing as a thematic focus because by its very nature it inspires and goes beyond rationality." Rebecca Sachs Norris, Professor of Religious and Theological Studies, Merrimack College, USA

"We owe Charles Lindholm a great debt for extending charisma's empirical reach and conceptual subtlety. This brilliant collection of anthropological essays explores the tensions between charismatic persons and social institutions in diverse settings from Paraguay to Taiwan. Timely, lucid and engaging, it is an anthropological gem." - Bryan S. Turner, The Graduate Center, The City University of New York, USA

"No anthropologist has made as sustained a contribution to the study of charisma in the Weberian tradition as Charles Lindholm, and this collection of ethnographic studies by his students and colleagues consolidate his leadership in this area. These chapters penetratingly examine charisma not only as the personal attribute of a leader but also as a feature of ritual performance across a wide range of religious traditions. They offer a compelling vision of charisma as a radical spiritual force." - Thomas J. Csordas, Professor of Anthropology, University of California, San Diego, USA, and author of Language, Charisma, and Creativity: Ritual Life in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal

"A major contribution on a topic of ever-growing importance. This volume changes the face of the social scientific study of charisma, hitherto focused primarily on Western religious and historical settings. The contributors examine charismatic processes from around the world and across the religious spectrum, revealing both a wealth of variation and a surprisingly recognizable experiential core." - Andrew Buckser, Professor of Anthropology and Dean of Arts and Science, State University of New York at Plattsburgh, USA