Remembering the Neighborhood: Church, Disability, and Religious Memory
Author(s)Rebecca F. Spurrier
Religions. Mythology. Rationalism
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AbstractThis article focuses on rituals of community life within a North American church in which many of the congregants live with psychiatric disabilities and whose participation in religious life is affected by their experiences of poverty and gentrification. I begin by exploring an aesthetic practice of remembrance that the postcolonial scholar Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak identifies and performs in an essay entitled “Harlem”. Drawing upon Spivak’s description of an imaginative practice she identifies as “teleiopoiesis” and my own ethnographic research, including participant observation and interviews, I analyze an example of how this community incorporates visual art into its practices of communal memory as part of one church’s weeklong liturgy. I then argue for the church’s gathering of members from across the city as a practice of remembrance across time and space that confronts the structures and injustices of urban life that challenge the communal identity emerging from this congregation’s religious practices.