Transnationalism Bibliography

  • Garrard-Burnett, V. (1998). Transnational Protestantism. Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs, 40-3 (Fall), 117-125.
    Keyword(s): Latin America, Transnational Religion

Question(s) addressed by the author and working arguments

The books reviewed in this essay all address the role that religion may play in postmodern society, if it has any role at all. In so doing, they elicit such critical questions: 1) Are Latin America and much of the developing world heading toward a future in which religious identifies and behaviors transcend or even supersede national identities? 2) Is Latin America’s uniqueness being swallowed up in a global homogeneization of culture and attitudes that masquerades in religious guise?

The current debate swirls around the long-term implications that religious change holds for the region. Religion seems to be one of the driving motors of change in Latin America in the late twentieth century, as postmodernism brings into question the old sureties, such as state hegemony, the lineal nature of development, and the historic triumph of rational modernity.

Conceptual references to transnational – transnationalism

The volume that addresses the issues most explicitly is Transnational Religion and Fading States, edited by Susanne Hoeber and James Piscatori. They suggest that in postmodern society, religious communities are creating an emergent transnational society: Until recently, there have been no words or metaphors for designing and populating the space that cuts across inside/outside, a space that is neither within the state nor an aspect of the international state system but animates both. This space, they suggest, is partly occupied by new transnational communities. These encompass both transnational civil society and sovereignty-sharing states. To visualize these new kinds of entities, the editors suggest that transnational activity is guided by “Imaginary maps whose boundaries do not approximate the space depicted on political maps..” In the section of Latin America, Levine and Stoll suggest two case studies of transnational religious activism, one ineffective (Peru) and the other effective (Guatemala).

Conclusions or Final Remarks

If religious change is to be considered in transnational terms, we might do well to recall that the channels of change run in two directions. If transnational communities can be conceptualized as plastic overlays on maps of meaning, we should remember that the color of the overlay is altered by the varying pigments of the underlying map.