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Consulting work

Anglican church leaders in conversation at 2022 Lambeth Conference

Anglican Companion Links (2023)

Anglican churches around the world often establish links or twinning relationships between dioceses, and these partnerships have been an important source of enrichment for their members. However, many member churches have not been assigned a partner; existing links run the gamut from healthy and vibrant to stagnant or even in breakdown. A set of guidelines exists, but it is significantly out of date.

My role in this project was to support the Anglican Communion Office in its capacity to offer resources to existing and potential linked dioceses. I began by conducting a mapping exercise of existing links, updating the database of partners and identifying dioceses which do not have a link. I also drafted a survey for diocese link officers to determine what their needs are.

Finally, I consulted with partnership experts and produced a critical review of the existing guidelines, which will serve as a basis for reflection at the ACO as they move forward in strengthening their international links.

Future work may include the development of a participant-led workshop in which newly linked dioceses are supported as they begin to build strong and equitable relationships.

Photo: Richard Washbrooke for Anglican Communion Office / The Lambeth Conference

Porticus Africa (2021-2022)

The Catholic church is a primary service provider in many regions of Africa, and sisters (i.e. nuns) are among those on the front line dealing with severe adversity. Porticus Africa supports pilot programmes to reimagine the training and formation of sisters, so that they can take a contemporary and holistic approach to care for their communities.

Collaborating with REAL Consulting Group, I worked to design and deliver a workshop series for sisters and other faith leaders in order to build capacity in Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL). The overall goal was to provide the tools needed for local religious associations to take ownership of the MEL frameworks for these pilot programmes in initial and ongoing training/formation. Our workshop series covered topics in personal, organisational, and social change; and in designing and managing MEL systems. This workshop was highly popular and received strong positive feedback.

In addition, I assisted in the analysis of baseline survey data, drafted assessment tools for workshop participants, and contributed to internal team self-evaluations.

Data collector working with a woman to fill out a needs assessment

Photo: TreeAid

TreeAid (2021)

TreeAid works with people in drylands areas of Africa in four focus topics: Natural resource management, forest governance, enterprise development, and food security & nutrition. 

Partner staff frequently need to conduct Livelihood Needs Assessments among their communities, to identify the underlying causes of food insecurity and risks to livelihoods, as well as the assets and resources amongst communities that can help reinforce the resilience and livelihoods of vulnerable populations.

I supported TreeAid with content and technical editing of the LNA handbook, which guides partner staff in these assessments and provides a comprehensive methodological toolbox. Consultations with TreeAid staff helped to refine stakeholder needs and goals. Drawing on my anthropological expertise, I advised on data collection and assessment methodologies and tools, as well as ways to communicate these clearly for ease of implementation by non-specialist users.

Reseach

Academic Research

Man browsing newspaper stand in Tanzania

Photo: Daniel Hayduk for AFP

The boundaries of moral communities (2019)

In this paper, I discuss the role of the Lutheran church in critiquing the state in Tanzania - socially, economically, and politically; and how this is effected through public news media. I demonstrate how public statements by faith leaders create a bounded moral community by calling out the deteriorating state of human rights and shrinking civil space. In this critique it aligns itself to a global Lutheran community. Yet in its silence on LGBT crackdowns and bans on teenage mothers in state schools, it draws another boundary between itself an other Lutheran churches worldwide. 

This paper was originally presented at the 2019 annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association in Vancouver, BC.

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Shepherds, Servants, and Strangers (2017)

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.

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Photo: Elaine Christian

American teenagers participating in mission trip in Kilimanjaro Region, Tanzania

Photo: Elaine Christian

Partnership and Race in Mission Encounters in Tanzania (2016)

I examine racial and ethnic dynamics in encounters between Tanzanian church personnel, and visiting American partners or short-term missionaries. Contemporary mission work in Tanzania is situated within a historical context that includes, but is not ultimately determined by, race or ethnicity. Several kinds of engagements and partnerships exist between American religious organisations and the Tanzanian church, which I describe ethnographically, and discuss how encounters between Tanzanian Christians and American visitors become ethnically inflected.

 

Two cases—encounters with Maasai and Chagga people respectively—provide a comparative illustration. Finally, I address the role played by new types of partnership between Tanzanian and American religious organisations, and how themes of hospitality and identities as guests and hosts contribute to encounters between American and Tanzanian Christians. In these encounters, multiple areas of shifting meanings of race come together, resulting in disjunctures of understanding.

 

I suggest that these disjunctures, coupled with the guest-host dynamic and the lack of in-depth knowledge characteristic of short-term mission in general, reveal patterns of social inequality and tensions inherent in the changing context of Christian mission.

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