An Anthropological Study on the Roles of Religion in Development
religion, development, public
Since the latter half of the twentieth century, a global revival of religion has been accompanied by growing influence of religion in the public sphere. A factor behind these developments may have been the shrinkage of national spending resulting from the penetration of neoliberal economics and a subsequent decline in social and welfare services. Religions (believers and congregations or other religious bodies) construct their own networks and, then, in many cases, collaborate with local communities, foreign aid donors, and international NGOs. The active involvement of religion in social development has become a global trend.
This research project has sites in Asia and Oceania, regions where the involvement of religion in development has been especially pronounced. The project is focused on two objectives. The first is to assemble ethnographic case studies of the involvement of religions in fields such as economic development, medicine and public hygiene, and education. The second is to identify issues posed by these developments for society as a whole, by clarifying the ways in which they affect society at large, and changes in society. Both objectives will be pursued in an effort to develop perspectives that transcend the limitations of current post-secularization theory.