Theses Doctoral

Shepherds, Servants, and Strangers: Popular Christianity, Theology, and Mission among Tanzanian Lutheran Ministers

Christian, Elaine

This dissertation is an ethnographic description of how pastors (and other ministers) in the Northern Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania understand and carry out their ministry: How they reflect, mediate, and influence local Christian practice and identities; how theology and theologizing forms an integral part of their social worlds; and how navigating and maintaining relationships with Christian mission partnerships (including “short-term mission”) becomes an important part of their ministry. Drawing from fieldwork conducted between June 2014 and September 2015, I present an account of Christianity that adds to anthropological scholarship by emphasizing the role of theology as a grounded social practice, and considers the increasingly divergent character of Christian mission and its role in modern Tanzanian Christianity. Additionally, I offer a contribution to existing scholarship on Christianity by focusing on pastors as a central mediating figure in Christianity, showing how, in their work, Christian practice, theology, and mission are experienced in social relationships. I demonstrate how theology and theologizing directly address local negotiations of Christian identity and practice, I examine the articulation between theological debates and Tanzanian experiences of mission, and I describe how mission in Tanzania has been and continues to be contextually understood with reference to the local practice of Christianity.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Anthropology and Education
Thesis Advisors
Varenne, Herve H.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 10, 2017