Keeping the Sacred : Structured Silence in the Enactment of Priesthood Authority, Gendered Worship, and Sacramental Kinship in Mormonism
Ann Arbor, Michigan
University of Michigan
This dissertation is as much a product of Mormonism as it is of Anthropology. Ethnographic research and analysis has a rich and storied history of pressing the particularity of specific communities into the service of more universal, general, cross-cultural theorizing and claims, and this very much draws upon and continues that tradition. But there is more at work in the genesis of this project than the application of anthropological theory to Mormon field data. As a practicing Mormon raised in the LDS Church, my own awareness of the potency of the sacred—and of the secrecy surrounding it—is part of what drove me to study anthropology in the first place. Which is to say, this project was conceived, executed, and written as much by a native as by an anthropologist. Anthropology as a discipline and a global enterprise has its own vexed historical relationship with evangelical Christianity (and the evangelizing project's close ties and shared heritage with the global spread of colonial power). Christian and colonial (and anti-christian and anti-colonial) anthropologies have intersected and interbred, sometimes fruitfully, sometimes violently, and often unwittingly, to produce the particular anthropology that counts as disciplinary Anthropology today. The hope here is that my own offering, with its own fraught genealogy, is a fruitful one.