I have a chapter on contemporary Christian music and worship music forthcoming in The Routledge International Handbook of Sociology and Christianity, and a chapter on two contemporary South African novelists, Niq Mhlongo and Songeziwe Mahlangu, forthcoming in Mapping World Anglophone Studies: English in a World of Strangers. I am also working on articles about belief narratives in Ted Lasso, on subculture theory and megachurches, and on the hundredth anniversary of Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet.
Abraham, I. (2021) Race, Class and Christianity in South Africa: Middle-Class Moralities. Abingdon: Routledge.
Abstract: This book explores the relationship between race and class among middle-class Christians in South Africa. The book provides a theoretically sophisticated and empirically rich study of middle-class Christians in contemporary South Africa, as they seek to live good lives and build a good society. Focused on the city of Cape Town, drawing upon ethnographic research in conservative and progressive multiracial Protestant churches, furnished with critical analysis of South African literature and popular culture, this timely study explores expressions of ambition and anxiety that are both spiritual and material. Building upon debates over middle-class identity and morality from sociology, anthropology, and cultural studies, this book analyses congregational attempts at social unity through worship music and creative youth ministry, discussions on white privilege and shame, and the impact of middle-class black activism in South African churches and society. This book will be of interest to researchers of South African culture and society, religion, anthropology, and sociology.
Keywords: Christianity; Class; Evangelicalism; Race; South Africa
Abraham, I., ed. (2020) Christian Punk: Identity and Performance. London and New York: Bloomsbury Academic.
Abstract: Christian punk is a surprisingly successful musical subculture and a fascinating expression of American evangelicalism. Situating Christian punk within the modern history of Christianity and the rapidly changing culture of spirituality and secularity, this book illustrates how Christian punk continues punk’s autonomous and oppositional creative practices, but from within a typically traditional evangelical morality. Analyzing straight edge Christian abstinence and punk-friendly churches, this book also focuses on gender performance within a subculture dominated by young men in a time of contested gender roles and ideologies. Critically-minded and rich in ethnographic data and insider perspectives, Christian Punk will engage scholars of contemporary evangelicalism, religion and popular music, and punk and all its related subcultures.
Keywords: Christianity; Evangelicalism; Popular music; Punk; Religion
The book has been reviewed in the journal Punk & Post-Punk here.
Abraham, I. (2017) Evangelical Youth Culture: Alternative Music and Extreme Sports Subcultures. London and New York: Bloomsbury Academic.
Abstract: This book offers a theoretically sophisticated and empirically rich study of contemporary Evangelical Christian youth culture, drawing on interviews and fieldwork with dozens of musicians and sports enthusiasts in the USA, UK, Australia, and South Africa. Focusing on Evangelical engagements with punk, hip hop, skateboarding and surfing, the book makes additional use of the analysis of Evangelical subcultural media including music, film, underground punk zines, and extreme sports Bibles. Engaging with multiple theories of youth subcultures from sociology and cultural studies, this book also makes use of contemporary anthropological studies of Christianity, debates within social theory and political philosophy on the public role of religion in “postsecular” societies, and introduces the notion of “serious leisure” to the study of religion, youth, and popular culture. Engaging with the experiences of Pentecostal punks, surfing missionaries, township rappers, and skateboarding pastors, this book makes an original contribution to the sociology of religion, youth studies, and the study of religion and popular culture.
Keywords: Christianity; Evangelicalism; Extreme sports; Popular music; Subculture; Youth culture
See the Google books preview here; the full introductory chapter, most of chapter one (“Evangelical Christianity and Youth Subculture Theory”) and some of chapter two (“Christian Punk in an Age of Authenticity”) is available.
More details about the book, including abstracts for each chapter, is available on a separate page here.
Refereed journal articles
(23) Abraham, I. (2022) “Religion and Relationality in Punk: Musicking and Ordinary Ethics.” Journal of Religion and Popular Culture. Published as online advanced access 04.01.2022.
Abstract: Engaging with Christopher Small’s notion of musicking and Veena Das and Michael Lambek’s notion of ordinary ethics, this article analyzes research on religion in punk from religion studies, sociology, and theology to offer a (self) critique of the representation of religious belief and relationships in punk. Focusing on the presence of evangelical Christianity in contemporary punk, and emphasizing relationships as central to the activity of musicking, this article draws attention to exclusions and essentializations in research in this field. Focusing on the ordinary ethics enacted through punk musicking, rather than the normative ethics located in sometimes polemical punk statements and scholarship, it is argued that a more accurate understanding of the place of religion in punk becomes apparent by focusing on quotidian relational practices.
Keywords: Christianity, musicking, ordinary ethics, punk, popular music, religion
(22) Abraham, I. (2021) “Saturday Night and Sunday Morning: Value Monism and Pluralism in Contemporary Evangelical Musicianship.” Journal of Contemporary Religion 36(3): 483-500.
Abstract: Drawing on interviews with, and ethnographic observations of, evangelical Christian musicians with experience of contemporary worship music—as well as secular heavy metal and punk rock—this article analyses the competing value relations underpinning contemporary evangelical musicianship. Developing the work of Joel Robbins on value theory and the anthropology of Christianity and the work of Klisala Harrison on ethnomusicology, this article analyses four examples of different value relations between religious service and expressive individualism: strong monism, stable monism, stable pluralism, unstable pluralism. It is shown through case studies of individual musicians that, whereas strong value monist approaches to evangelical musicianship efface the presence of the subjective self and stable monist approaches suspend its presence, stable pluralism allows both religious and secular vocations to co-exist in separate social spaces, while strong value pluralist approaches to evangelical musicianship emphasise or celebrate the presence of the subjective self and, in so doing, sometimes undermine the ritual aims of congregational worship.
Keywords: Christianity, evangelicalism, value, worship music
(21) Abraham, I. & R. Weglarz (2021) “Studying Africa in the Australian Capital Territory: Bureaucratisation, Disciplinisation and Projectisation.” Australasian Review of African Studies 42(2): 54-78. (Open access publication; click for full text)
Abstract: This article analyses the experiences of scholars of Africa in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), advancing upon critical research on African Studies and contemporary academia. Drawing upon interviews with researchers, this article makes three arguments about the study of Africa in the ACT and Australia. Firstly, that universities have undergone bureaucratisation, altering the way researchers organise their working lives. Secondly, that the study of Africa in the ACT’s universities demonstrates disciplinisation such that researchers’ methodologies are more important to their identities and career trajectories than their regions of research. Finally, that research practices have undergone projectisation, with scholars increasingly employed on precarious contracts and periodically shifting their focus to or from Africa. It is argued that the African Studies paradigm and Africanist identity are inoperative in the ACT.
Keywords: African Studies, area studies, Australian universities, precarity
(20) Abraham, I. (2021) “Decolonization and the Sociology of Christianity.” Journal of Sociology and Christianity 11(1): 62-69. (Open access publication; click for full text)
Abstract: All approaches to decolonizing the university and academic life recognize European colonialism has shaped academia, including curricula, research, employment, and management. All approaches similarly share a recognition that colonialism continues to shape academia in explicit and implicit ways. However, approaches differ greatly on the degree of autonomy from cultural and historical forces granted to academics, on appropriate remedies and reforms, and on the political languages and ideologies of decolonial practice. Reflecting on the question of the decolonization of the sociology of Christianity from my perspective as an Australian sociologist studying Christianity in South Africa for the last seven years, this essay will argue that much of what goes on in the name of decolonizing academia, specifically decolonizing research, is already established best practice within the social sciences, and embedded within everyday research cultures, without being specifically identified as “decolonial.”
Keywords: Christianity, sociology, South Africa
(19) Abraham, I. & S. Liu (2020) “Middle-Class Anxiety and Moderate Prosperity: South Africa and China in Comparative Perspective.” Australasian Review of African Studies 41(2): 5-26. (Open access publication; click for full text)
Abstract: This article presents the first comparative study of the middle class in Africa and China, drawing on published research from both regions, furnished with analysis of popular culture and ethnographic insights from research on South Africa’s new black middle class. This study explores four topics of theoretical and empirical significance. Firstly, definitional debates about the qualitative and quantitative classification of the middle class, including the appropriateness of the term in (South) Africa and China. Secondly, the appropriation of the Chinese concept of xiaokang (moderate prosperity) for the study of Africa. Thirdly, anxiety over social and economic status, related in particular to distinctions between strata within the middle class, building on a distinction between middle-class moderate prosperity and middle-class affluence. Fourthly, anxiety over contradictions between emerging individual desires and traditional familial commitments, impacting South Africa’s moderately prosperous in particular, with broader cultural implications for emerging African and Chinese modernities.
Keywords: China, class, sociology, South Africa
(18) Abraham, I. (2018) “Sincere Performance in Pentecostal Megachurch Music.” Religions 9(6): article 192. 21pp. (Open access publication; click for full text)
Abstract: Drawing on the work of Webb Keane and Joel Robbins in the anthropology of Christianity, furnished with the influential work of Charles Hirschkind in the anthropology of Islam, and the ethnographic studies of Tom Wagner and Mark Jennings on Pentecostal worship music, this article critically examines ideas of sincerity in the musical practices of Pentecostal megachurches. Making use of ethnographic data from research on congregational music in South Africa, including interviews with a variety of Pentecostal musicians, this article argues that the question of Protestant sincerity, understood following Keane as emphasizing individual moral autonomy and suspicion of external material religious forms for expressing one’s inner state, is particularly acute in the case of the Hillsong megachurch. Employing the full array of spectacular possibilities made available by the contemporary culture industry, Hillsong churches centralize cultural production and standardize musical performance whilst simultaneously emphasizing individual religious experience. It is argued that Pentecostal megachurches seek to realize a form of sincere mimicry grounded in learned and embodied practices.
Keywords: Hillsong; megachurch; Pentecostalism; South Africa; worship music
(17) Abraham, I. (2015) “Postsecular Punk: Evangelical Christianity and the Overlapping Consensus of the Underground.” Punk & Post-Punk 4(1): 91-105.
Abstract: Utilizing interviews and fieldwork with Evangelical Christians involved in the punk scenes of Australia, Britain, South Africa and the United States, this article brings the study of the punk subculture into dialogue with key political theorists of the regulation of religiously diverse societies. Focusing on the work of the late American political philosopher John Rawls, furnished with more recent work by Jürgen Habermas, this article examines the processes of negotiated inclusion undertaken by Evangelical Christians in local punk scenes. Closely analyzing the acceptance of the contestability of religious claims, ‘translation’ between religious and secular discourses and modalities, and an ‘overlapping consensus’ on the desirability of diversity within the punk scene, it is argued that the negotiated inclusion of religiously diverse social actors in punk scenes can inform ongoing debates about diversity and inclusion in punk scenes’ ‘postsecular’ parent societies.
Keywords: Christianity, Evangelicalism, Popular music, Punk, Postsecular
(16) Abraham, I. (2015) “Christian Hip Hop as Pedagogy: A South African Case Study.” Journal of Beliefs & Values 36(3): 285-296.
Abstract: Drawing on interviews with creators of Christian hip hop music in South Africa, this article demonstrates that this genre of popular music and youth culture is utilised as a form of pedagogy to transmit religious beliefs and values to contemporary youth. The pedagogical aspects of hip hop have been recognised in research on the topic, but the religious pedagogical uses of hip hop have been under-analysed within the social sciences. After outlining the global development of hip hop as a pedagogical practice, this article will demonstrate that, under the influence of North American Evangelicalism, South African Christian hip hop attempts to promote Evangelical orthodoxy and orthopraxy in response to the secular and religious practices of South African youth.
Keywords: Christianity, Evangelicalism, Hip hop, Popular music, South Africa, Youth culture
(15) Abraham, I. (2014) “Would you Adam and Eve it? Social Scientific Contributions to the Study of the Reception of Scripture in Consumer Society.” The Bible & Critical Theory 10(2): 32-42. (Open access journal; click for full text)
Abstract: This invited article is a response to Katie Edwards’ (2012) Admen and Eve: The Bible in Contemporary Advertising. The article offers alternative methodologies for studying the significance of biblical texts and images in contemporary consumer products, from sociological cultural studies and cultural anthropology, arguing for closer engagement with the social worlds in which advertising and other forms of popular culture are produced and consumed.
Keywords: Advertising, Bible, Consumerism, Cultural studies, Ethnography, Popular culture
(14) Abraham, I. & R. Busbridge (2014) “Afghan-Australians: Diasporic Tensions, Homeland Transformations, and the 2014 Syndrome.” Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs 34(3): 243-258.
Abstract: With the withdrawal of NATO-led troops from Afghanistan pending in 2014, Afghanistan and its sizeable diaspora are facing an ambiguous new beginning. As in Afghanistan itself, the 35,000-strong Afghan community in Australia is negotiating what has been labelled the “2014 Syndrome”—a chronic state of anxiety about Afghanistan’s future. Drawing on data from a series of dialogues and consultations held with Afghan-Australians of different ethnicities in Melbourne in 2012 and 2013, this article contextualizes and critically examines the tensions and shared concerns of the Afghan-Australian community in light of the impending withdrawal. Our study shows that the 2014 Syndrome has exacerbated existing tensions over “Afghan” identity in Australia, which has become intertwined with tensions over the status of Hazara asylum seekers and refugees arriving in Australia. Given the widely held belief amongst Afghan-Australians that the 2014 withdrawal will prompt increased flows of asylum seekers from Afghanistan to Australia, this study argues that tensions around identity frame quite different hopes for the future of Afghanistan and the future of the Afghan-Australian community after 2014.
Keywords: Afghanistan, Afghan-Australians, Australia, Diaspora, Hazara, Multiculturalism
(13) Abraham, I. (2014) “Respecting Religion in Youth Music Subcultures: Inclusivity, Individuality and Conflict Avoidance Strategy.” International Journal of Children’s Spirituality 19(2): 83–96.
Abstract: Drawing on fieldwork with young Evangelical and Pentecostal Christians involved in the secular punk rock subculture, this article examines strategies for building respectful relationships between religious and irreligious young people in youth music subcultures. Although punk rock developed as a secular and often anti-religious youth subculture, and although a thriving Evangelical subculture has developed with its own popular music scenes at odds with secular values, a significant number of young Christians have become active participants in punk. Arguing for the importance of musical and subcultural identities among contemporary youth, this article analyses examples of creative inclusivity and respectful relationships across religious boundaries, as well as examples of conflicts over spiritual values. Outlining strategies for building religious inclusivity and resolving religious conflict in youth subcultures, it is shown that where young people’s creative capacities and individual autonomy are respected and enabled by subcultural peers and secular or religious youth workers and institutions, strongly held religious views can still be welcomed within even strongly secular youth subcultures.
Keywords: Christianity, Evangelicalism, Popular music, Subculture, Youth culture
(12) Abraham, I. & F. Stewart (2014) “Desacralizing Salvation in Straight Edge Christianity and Holistic Spirituality.” International Journal for the Study of New Religions 5(1): 77-102.
Abstract: Drawing on fieldwork in the punk scenes of the UK, USA and Australia, this article critically examines Christianity and holistic spirituality within punk’s Straight Edge subculture, a movement rejecting alcohol, drugs, and casual sex. Focusing on conceptualizations of salvation within Straight Edge Christianity and Straight Edge holistic spirituality, this article engages Heelas and Woodhead’s notion of the “subjectivization’”of contemporary religious identities to compare and contrast these forms of new religious practice. Straight Edge Christianity and Straight Edge holistic spirituality are shown to demonstrate the double movement of the ‘desacralization’ of religion in late modernity. Straight Edge Christianity illustrates the emergence of religion in traditionally secular cultural spaces, while Straight Edge holistic spirituality illustrates a movement away from the transcendent and supernatural, towards the location of salvation within wholly material concerns and therapeutic practices.
Keywords: Christianity, Popular music, Punk, Spirituality, Straight edge, Subculture
(11) Abraham, I. (2013) “Pentevangelical Youth Subcultures: Between Resistance and Compromise.” Youth Studies Australia 32(3): 3-12. (Defunct journal; click for full text)
Abstract: Within the continuing decline of religiosity in Australia, significant changes to religious identity and practice involving young people are occurring within and around conservative Evangelical and Pentecostal Christianity. Contextualising and quantifying the growth of “Pentevangelicalism”, this article argues that the social identity and practice of young Pentevangelicals is of a “subcultural” form, deriving from a sense of contradiction with what is conceived of as the dominant culture of liberal secularism. Critically analysing existing theories of Evangelical subcultures, this article draws on interviews with Pentevangelical punks in Australia to illustrate the tension between resistance and compromise that frames Pentevangelical youth subcultures.
Keywords: Australia, Evangelicalism, Pentecostalism, Popular music, Subculture, Youth culture
(10) Abraham, I. (2011) “The Islamic Mode of Regulation – A Speculation.” Bulletin for the Study of Religion 40(1): 3-10.
Abstract: This article analyses the development of the broader culture and politics of Islamic finance from the Regulation School perspective, speculating on the (in)stability of an Islamic growth regime grounded in pious accumulation and consumption, differing in only minor ways from contemporary neoliberalism.
Keywords: Capitalism, Islam, Islamic finance, Regulation theory
(09) Abraham I. (2009) “Capital, Culture and Contradictions: Contemporary Christian Economic Ethics.” Pacifica: Australasian Theological Studies 22(1): 53-74.
Abstract: This article analyses contemporary Christian economic ethics within the context of global financial capitalism. Arguing that contemporary Christian economic thought is inseparable from Christian attitudes towards capitalism, this article suggests there are four main approaches to the topic today: pro-capitalist attitudes; advocacy of the moral regulation of capitalism; advocacy of the moral reform of capitalism; and diverse anti-capitalist approaches. Comparing and contrasting these approaches, the article notes that certain contradictions exist in aspects of contemporary Christian economic ethics, particularly around attempts to curtail the influence of capitalism on culture.
Keywords: Capitalism, Christianity, Finance, Financial Ethics
(08) Abraham, I. & R. Boer (2009) “‘God Doesn’t Care’: The Contradictions of Christian Zionism.” Religion & Theology 16(1-2): 90-110.
Abstract: Defining Christian Zionism as theological support for Israel as a Zionist state, this article analyses four contradictions in such a theology. Firstly, although Christian Zionism insists it is purely theological, not political, this separation is impossible. Secondly, mainstream Zionist use of Christian Zionism to influence US foreign policy is misguided, since Christian Zionists wish to convert or annihilate all Jews. Thirdly, Christian Zionism is anti-Semitic, wishing to eliminate all non-converted Jews (and Arabs). Finally, since Christian Zionists read the Old and New Testaments in a ‘literal’ fashion, they resort to the violence of Armageddon to resolve their theological contradictions.
Keywords: Apocalypticism, Bible, Christian Zionism, Christianity, Evangelicalism, Israel, Middle East
(07) Abraham, I. (2009) “‘Out to Get Us’: Queer Muslims and the Clash of Sexual Civilisations in Australia.” Contemporary Islam 3(1): 79-97.
Abstract: Drawing on qualitative data from interviews with twelve queer Muslims in Australia, this article analyses the ongoing struggle for queer Muslim recognition within the context of the so-called ‘Clash of Civilisations’. Analysing the rhetoric of national security and ‘Western’ civilisational identity, this article interrogates the incorporation of sexuality into the cultural and political discourse of the ‘war on terror’, from the xenophobic demonisation of Muslims as sexual predators, to liberal Islamophobia that posits Islam as an aggressive and alien Other against which liberal capitalism must be defended. Within this hostile environment, queer Muslims in Australia are articulating various strategies for finding meaning in their lives. From a Marxist perspective, this article analyses these strategies for recognition which range from complex acts of ‘closeting’ sexual, ethnic and religious identities, to subversive acts of critical hybridity that seek to negate the exclusionary nature of homophobia and Islamophobia within Australia’s multicultural society.
Keywords: Australia, Homophobia, Homosexuality, Islam, Islamophobia, Multiculturalism, War on terror
Republished in Stephen Hunt (ed.) (2015) Religion and LGBTQ Sexualities: Critical Essays, pp. 317-335. Farnham: Ashgate.
(06) Abraham, I. (2008) “‘Sodomized by Religion’: Fictional Representations of Queer Muslims in the ‘West’.” Topia: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies 19: 137-152. (Open access publication; click for full text)
Abstract: This article explores fictional representations of queer Muslims in the Western world. Analysing two films (My Beautiful Laundrette and Touch of Pink) and two novels (The Taqwacores and Bilal’s Bread), the article argues that despite queer Muslims facing multiple forms of alienation and othering, new hybrid identities and relationships are developing, rejecting the rhetoric of a “clash of civilizations” between Muslims and the West. The article explores the political, cultural, sexual and economic situation of Western Muslims as they seek meaning, belonging and faith in late capitalism.
Keywords: Homophobia, Homosexuality, Islam, Multiculturalism, Popular culture
(05) Abraham, I. (2008) “Punk Pulpit: Religion, Punk Rock and Counter (Sub)cultures.” Council of the Societies for the Study of Religion Bulletin 37(1): 3-7. (now published as the Bulletin for the Study of Religion.)
Abstract: This article engages with issues of religion and youth subculture in the context of punk, arguably the subculture de jour from its inception in the mid-seventies. The article first traces eruptions of religion in punk, utilizing competing subculture theories to analyze these emergences, before offering some broader suggestions about the significance of religious punk in the analysis of contemporary religion.
Keywords: Popular music, Punk, Religion, Subculture
(04) Mews, C. J. & I. Abraham (2007) “Usury and Just Compensation: Religious and Financial Ethics in Historical Perspective.” Journal of Business Ethics 72(1): 1-15.
Abstract: Usury is a concept often associated more with religiously based financial ethics, whether Christian or Islamic, than with the secular world of contemporary finance. The problem is compounded by a tendency to interpret riba, prohibited within Islam, as both usury and interest, without adequately distinguishing these concepts. This paper argues that in Christian tradition usury has always evoked the notion of money demanded in excess of what is owed on a loan, disrupting a relationship of equality between people, whereas interest was seen as referring to just compensation to the lender. Although it is often claimed that hostility towards ‘usury’ has been in retreat in the West since the protestant Reformation, we would argue that the crucial break came not with Calvin, but with Jeremy Bentham, whose critique of the arguments of Adam Smith, upholding the reasonableness of the laws against usury, led to the abolition of the usury laws in England in 1854. There has to be a role for law, whether Islamic or secular, in regulating financial relationships. We argue that by retrieving the necessary distinction between demanding usury as illegitimate predatory lending and interest as legitimate compensation, we can discover common ground behind the driving principles of financial ethics within both Islamic and Christian tradition that may still be of relevance today. By re-examining past ethical discussions of the distinction between usury and just compensation, we argue that the world’s religious traditions can make significant contributions to contemporary debate.
Keywords: Bible, Interest, Financial ethics, Islamic finance, Middle ages, Predatory lending, Religion, Usury
Republished in in P. Oslington, M. Hirschfeld & P. S. Williams (eds) (2018) Recent Developments in the Economics of Religion. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
(03) Boer, R. & I. Abraham (2007) “The Antinomies of Christian Zionism.” Sociologija 49(3): 193-204. (Open access publication; click for full text)
Abstract: Defining Christian Zionism as conservative Christian support for the state of Israel, and an influential political force, especially in the United States, this article outlines four antinomies of such a position. Firstly, although Christian Zionism argues that it is purely theological, that it follows God’s will irrespective of any politics, and although mainstream Zionism is resolutely political, we argue that such a separation is impossible. Indeed, mainstream Zionism cannot avoid being influenced by Christian Zionism’s political agenda. Secondly, despite the efforts by mainstream Zionism to use Christian Zionism in order to influence US foreign policy in the Middle East, mainstream Zionism is playing with fire, since Christian Zionists wish to convert or annihilate all Jews. Thirdly, Christian Zionism is the ultimate version of anti-Semitism, for it wishes to get rid of Arabs (as hindrances to the Zionist project) and then dispense with Jews. (Both Arabs and Jews are by definition Semites.) Finally, since Christian Zionists are fundamentalist Christians, they must take the Old and New Testaments at their word. However, this position is impossible to hold, and in order to resolve the tension they must resort to the violence of the final conflict, Armageddon.
Keywords: Apocalypticism, Christian Zionism, Evangelicalism, Israel, Middle East, United States
(02) Abraham, I. (2007) “‘On the Doorstep of the Work’: Ricoeurian Hermeneutics, Queer Hermeneutics and Scripture.” The Bible & Critical Theory 3(1): 04.1-04.12. (Open access publication; click for full text).
Abstract: This article explores Ricoeur’s rhetorical question, ‘if I make believers scribes, will it be long before I make them literary critics?’ by analysing Ricoeur’s three-stage biblical hermeneutics through the perspective of queer theory and queer criticism of the Bible and the Qur’an. The article offers an overview of the state of queer theory in the context of scriptural criticism and an analysis of Ricoeur’s hermeneutic system, before engaging with queer readings of scripture from scriptural scholars and theologians. Acknowledging the tension between queer theorists in the academy, activists and individuals, this article also draws on the scriptural hermeneutics of the queer activist organisations, QUIT, Queer Jihad and the Rainbow Sash movement, suggesting that their creative scriptural appropriations can enliven Ricoeurian hermeneutics.
Keywords: Bible, Christianity, Homosexuality, Islam, Ricoeur, Queer theory
(01) Abraham, I. (2006) “Hijab in an Age of Fear: Security, Secularism and Human Rights.” Australian Religion Studies Review 19(2): 169-188. (The ARSR is now published as the Journal for the Academic Study of Religion.)
Abstract: In recent years, Islamic dress has emerged as one of the abiding sites of contention in the relationship between Muslim communities and the State. Specifically, the wearing of Islamic headscarves by women in public spaces has raised questions about secularism, women’s rights, and national identity. This article explores the debates about banning hijab in educational institutions across four jurisdictions: France, the United States, Turkey, and Australia. Through the analysis of various case studies, this article argues that an analysis focussed on human rights reveals common themes in the debate in each country: the fear of terrorism and fundamentalism, insecurity about national identity, and how to reconcile secularism with religious freedom, gender equality, and other human rights.
Keywords: Australia, France, Gender, Hijab, Human rights, Islam, Islamophobia, Turkey, United States
Refereed book chapters
(17) Abraham, I. (2021) “Pentecostalism and Secular Youth Culture: Translatability, Ambiguity and Instability.” In S. Gelfgren & D. Lindmark (eds) Conservative Religion and Mainstream Culture: Opposition, Negotiation, and Adaptation, pp. 61-82. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.
Abstract: Based on research in the United States, Australia and South Africa, this chapter analyses three particular tensions in Pentecostal engagements with secular youth culture, focusing on popular music and youth sport. The first tension is the limited translatability of Pentecostal beliefs and practices into the worldviews of non-Christian youth. The second tension is the ambiguity of Pentecostal ecclesiology (church organization) which produces multiple sites of incompatible authority on controversial theological and social issues such as sexuality. The third tension is the instability inherent in Pentecostal theology as it emphasises the importance of personal revelation and ecstatic experience, which has the potential to upset negotiated compromises with secular culture.
Keywords: Christianity, Pentecostalism, Youth Culture
(16) Abraham, I. (2020) “Religion after Work: Christianity, Morality, and Serious Leisure.” In E. Bell, S. Gog, A. Simionca & S. Taylor (eds) Spirituality, Organization and Neoliberalism: Understanding Lived Experiences, pp. 148-69. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
Abstract: Through extended retirement, unemployment or underemployment, expanding joblessness is changing the traditional hierarchical balance between work and earned leisure. This chapter explores the implications of such changes in the context of established religious and moral systems, particularly Protestant Christianity, which has been connected to conventional capitalist ideologies of work since Max Weber’s ‘Protestant Ethic’ thesis. Focusing on the concept of ‘serious leisure’, in which an individual makes a systematic commitment to a leisure pursuit, this chapter uses the case study of church-facilitated youth-focused action sports projects in South Africa to explore the ethical challenges of a leisure-driven life. Embodying an autotelic approach to life, emphasizing commitment to one’s own actions, emotions and outcomes, serious leisure can promote a form of neoliberal self-governance. Through its autotelic ethic, serious leisure may be more capable of fulfilling the ideological values of work promoted by earlier Protestant and secular ‘bourgeois’ work ethics, such as authenticity.
Keywords: Christianity, Morality, Serious Leisure, Sport, South Africa
(15) Abraham, I. (2020) “Yinger, J. Milton.” In. A. Possamai & A.J. Blasi (eds) The SAGE Encyclopedia of the Sociology of Religion, pp 923-24. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
Abstract: John Milton Yinger (1916-2011) made significant contributions to the sociology of religion, particularly his studies of the unstable role of Christianity in society, as well as significant contributions to the broader social sciences, including the study of race and ethnicity, and social theory and methodology.
Keywords: Christianity, Sociology of Religion
(14) Abraham, I. (2020) “Conclusion: Performing Christian Punk Identity.” In I. Abraham (ed.) Christian Punk: Identity and Performance, pp. 193-98. London and New York: Bloomsbury Academic.
Abstract: This short, concluding chapter analyzes three key aspects of identity performed in Christian punk. Christian punk’s performance of evangelical identity is an attempt to make evangelicalism explicable in contemporary society. Christian punk’s performance of masculine identity continues basic punk norms. Christian punk’s performance of punk identity is similarly noticeable for its inward turn, in keeping with broader changes in secular punk.
Keywords: Christianity; Class; Evangelicalism; Masculinity; Punk
(13) Abraham, I. (2020) “Christian Punk in (Post)secular Perspectives.” In I. Abraham (ed.) Christian Punk: Identity and Performance, pp. 157-73. London and New York: Bloomsbury Academic.
Abstract: This chapter analyzes Christian punk in the context of the secularization of Western societies, from the perspective of three sociological paradigms. Viewed from the secularization paradigm, Christian punk is an example of compromise, toleration, and internal secularization. Viewed from the perspective of the religious markets thesis, Christian punk shows the vitality of niche religious services. Viewed from the perspective of postsecular theory, Christian punk demonstrates the vitality but limited influence of Christianity.
Keywords: Christianity; Postsecular; Punk; Religious markets; Secularization, Sociology of Religion
(12) Abraham, I. & F. Stewart (2020) “Straight Edge Evangelicalism and DIY Spirituality.” In I. Abraham (ed.) Christian Punk: Identity and Performance, pp. 67-83. London and New York: Bloomsbury Academic.
Abstract: This chapter critically analyzes religion and spirituality in punk’s straight edge movement, which rejects alcohol, drugs, and promiscuous sex, in the broader context of the individualization of religion and morality. Engaging at length with sociological studies of religious individualization, the chapter notes the importance of individual autonomy for straight edge punks embracing do-it-yourself spirituality. While acknowledging that religious individualization has also significantly altered Christianity, the chapter nevertheless notes that Christian straight edgers differ in grounding their faith beyond the self.
Keywords: Christianity; Individualization; Punk; Spirituality; Straight edge
(11) Abraham, I. (2020) “Introduction: Studying Christian Punk.” In I. Abraham (ed.) Christian Punk: Identity and Performance, pp. 1-17. London and New York: Bloomsbury Academic.
Abstract: This expansive introductory chapter offers a history of Christian punk, and its parent genres of secular punk and contemporary Christian music. The chapter critically engages with existing studies of punk, Christian music, and evangelical attitudes towards popular culture. The chapter also analyzes the emergence of a distinct discipline of punk studies, and “punkademic” scholars seeking to bring the do-it-yourself values of punk to academia.
Keywords: Christianity; Contemporary Christian music; Cultural studies: Popular music; Punk
(10) Abraham, I. & T. Järvenpää (2019) “Ruptures and Reconfigurations of Identity through Christian Hip Hop in Southern Africa.” In E. Gault & T. Harris (eds) Beyond Christian Hip Hop, pp. 181-204. New York: Routledge.
Keywords: Christianity, Hip Hop, Evangelicalism, Popular Music, South Africa
(09) Abraham, I. (2017) “Islamophobia, Racialization, and Mis-Interpellation in Gay Men’s Communities.” In D. W. Riggs (ed.) The Psychic Life of Racism in Gay Men’s Communities, pp. 15-31. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.
Keywords: Homophobia, Homosexuality, Islam, Islamophobia, Racism
(08) Abraham, I. & F. Stewart (2017) “Punk and Hardcore.” In C. Partridge & M. Moberg (eds) The Bloomsbury Handbook of Religion and Popular Music, pp. 241-250. London and New York: Bloomsbury Academic.
Keywords: Evangelicalism, Islam, Popular music, Punk, Straight edge, Subculture
(07) Abraham, I. & U. Parmaksiz (2015) “Australia and Turkey in Postsecular Perspectives.” In M. Michael (ed.) Reconciling Cultural and Political Identities in a Globalized World: Perspectives on Australia-Turkey Relations, pp. 91-111. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Keywords: Australia, Turkey, Postsecularism, Secularism, Secularization, Sociology of Religion
(06) Abraham, I. (2015) “High, Low and In Between: Reception History and the Sociology of Religion and Popular Music.” In W. J. Lyons & E. England (eds) Reception History and Biblical Studies: Theory and Practice, pp. 241-253. London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark.
Keywords: Bible, Cultural studies, Popular music, Secularization, Sociology of religion
(05) Abraham, I. (2010) “‘Everywhere You Turn You Have to Jump into Another Closet’: Hegemony, Hybridity and Queer Australian Muslims.” In S. Habib (ed.) Islam and Homosexuality, Volume 2, pp. 395-418. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger.
Keywords: Australia, Homophobia, Homosexuality, Islam, Islamophobia, Multiculturalism
(04) Abraham, I. (2011) “Tensions in Christian Financial Ethics: An Historical Overview.” In M. Ariff & M. Iqbal (eds) The Foundations of Islamic Banking, pp. 235-254. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
Keywords: Christianity, Capitalism, Financial Ethics
(03) Boer, R. & I. Abraham (2009) “Noah’s Nakedness: Islam, Ethnicity and the Fantasy of the Christian West.” In R. Sabbath (ed.) Sacred Tropes: Tanakh, New Testament and Qur’an as Literature and Culture, pp. 461-474. Leiden: Brill.
Keywords: Bible, Islam, Islamophobia, Popular culture, Popular music
(02) Abraham, I. (2007) “Agents of Change: Theology, Culture and Identity Politics.” In J. Connolly, et al. (eds) Recognition in Politics: Theory, Policy and Practice, pp. 175-191. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press.
Keywords: Christianity, Identity politics.
(01) Boer, R. & I. Abraham (2006) “Australasia.” In J. F. Sawyer (ed.) The Blackwell Companion to the Bible and Culture, pp. 232-249. Oxford: Blackwell.
Keywords: Australia, Bible, Contemporary art, Popular culture
Refereed papers in conference proceedings
(05) Abraham, I. (2015) “Moral Development in a Developing Economy in Moral Crisis: Evangelical Youth Culture in Contemporary South Africa.” Between East and West: Youth, Religion and Politics (Religiski-Filozofiski Raksti, volume 18). Riga: University of Latvia, pp. 134-145.
The full proceedings from the conference, held in Riga on 16-17 October, 2014 can be accessed here.
Keywords: Christianity, Evangelicalism, South Africa, Youth culture
(04) Abraham, I. (2015) “Innovation and Standardization in Christian Metalcore: The Influences of Church and Market.” Modern Heavy Metal: Markets, Practices and Cultures. Helsinki: Aalto University, pp. 465-473.
Keywords: Christianity, Culture industry, Evangelicalism, Heavy metal, Popular music
(03) Abraham, I. (2009) “Riba and Recognition: Religion, Finance and Multiculturalism.” Essays from the AASR Conference 2008. Sydney: University of Sydney, pp. 39-54.
The full proceedings of the conference held at the University Of Auckland on 6-11 July 2008 can be accessed here.
Keywords: Financial ethics, Islam, Islamic finance, Multiculturalism
(02) Abraham, I. (2007) “Queer Muslims and Hegemonic Desires in Lacanian-Marxist Perspectives.” Spirituality in Australia: Psychological, Social and Religious Perspectives. Sydney: University of Western Sydney, pp. 11-22.
Keywords: Homosexuality, Homophobia, Islam, Marxism, Psychoanalysis, Žižek
(01) Abraham, I. (2007) “The Veil and the Closet: Islam and the Production of Queer Space.” Queer Space: Centres and Peripheries. Sydney: University of Technology.
Keywords: Gender, Homosexuality, Homophobia, Islam, Islamophobia, Hijab, Queer theory.
A French version of this article was published in 2009 as “Du Voile et du Placard.” In issue one of La Revue Monstre, pp. 33-37.
(03) Schneidermann, N. & I. Abraham (2017) “Guest Editors’ Introduction: Hip Hop Constellations.” Suomen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society 42(2): 3-9.
Keywords: Cultural studies, Ethnography, Hip hop, Popular music
(02) Abraham, I. (2012) “Christian Punk and Populist Traditionalism.” United Academics Journal of Social Science May/June: 23-37.
Keywords: Christianity, Evangelicalism, Populist traditionalism, Popular music, Punk, Youth culture
(01) Abraham, I. (2011) “The Bedford Falls Blessing.” (Editorial) Bulletin for the Study of Religion 40(1): 1-3.
Keywords: Capitalism, Financial ethics, Religion
Book reviews and review essays
(02) Abraham, I. (2011) “Biblicism, Reception History and the Social Sciences”. Relegere: Studies in Religion & Reception 1(2): 359-367.
Reviews James Bielo (2009) Words Upon the Word: An Ethnography of Evangelical Group Bible Study. NY: NYU Press and James Bielo (ed.) (2009) The Social Life of Scriptures: Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Biblicism. New Brunswick: Rutgers UP.
Keywords: Bible, Ethnography, Sociology of religion
(01) Abraham, I. (2008) “The Intifada of Decent Feelings: The Israel-Palestinian Conflict in Popular Theology”. Colloquium: Australian and New Zealand Theological Review 40(2):194-206.
Reviews Charles P. Lutz & Robert O. Smith (2006) Christians and a Land Called Holy. Minneapolis: Fortress Press and Jimmy Carter (2006) Palestine: Peace not Apartheid. NY: Simon & Schuster.
Keywords: Apocalypticism, Christianity, Israel, Middle East, Palestine, Politics
(21) Abraham, I. (2020) Review of Robert Pippin, Metaphysical Exile: On J.M. Coetzee’s Jesus Fictions. Journal for the Academic Study of Religion 34(1): 124–126.
(20) Abraham, I. (2020) Review of Alan Anderson, Spirit-Filled World: Religious Dis/Continuity in African Pentecostalism. Journal for the Academic Study of Religion 33(3): 339-341.
(19) Abraham, I. (2019) Review of Monique M. Ingalls, Singing The Congregation: How Contemporary Worship Music Forms Evangelical Community. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 58(3): 766-767.
(18) Abraham, I. (2018) Review of Anna Strhan, Aliens and Strangers? The Struggle for Coherence in the Everyday Lives of Evangelicals. Relegere 7(1&2): 177-180.
(17) Abraham, I. (2018) Review of Michael E. Veal & E. Tammy Kim (eds) Punk Ethnography: Artists and Scholars Listen to Sublime Frequencies. Punk & Post-Punk 7(2): 274-277.
(16) Abraham, I. (2017) Review of Susan Booysen (ed.), Fees Must Fall: Student Revolt, Decolonisation and Governance in South Africa. The Australasian Review of African Studies 38(2): 117-119.
(15) Abraham, I. (2017) Review of Roger Southall, The New Black Middle Class in South Africa. The Australasian Review of African Studies 38(1): 136-138.
(14) Abraham, I. (2016) Review of Miller, Pinn & Freeman (eds) Religion in Hip Hop: Mapping the New Terrain in the US. Relegere: Studies in Religion and Reception 6(1): 75-78.
(13) Abraham, I. (2015) Review of Mark Jennings, Exaltation: Ecstatic Experience in Pentecostalism and Popular Music. Relegere: Studies in Religion and Reception 5(2): 249-253.
(12) Abraham, I. (2015) Review of Heather Shipley (ed.), Globalized Religion and Sexual Identity: Contexts, Contestations, Voices. Religion and Gender 5(2): 188-190.
(11) Abraham, I. (2014) Review of Nancy J. Davis & Robert V. Robertson, Claiming Society for God: Religious Movements and Social Welfare. Relegere: Studies in Religion & Reception 4(1): 95-97.
(10) Abraham, I. (2013) Review of Thomas E. Bergler, The Juvenilization of American Christianity. Relegere: Studies in Religion & Reception 3(1): 196-200.
(09) Abraham, I. (2011) Review of Clifford A. Kiracofe, Dark Crusade: Christian Zionism and US Foreign Policy. Reviews in Religion and Theology 18(4): 607-610.
(08) Abraham, I. (2011) Review of Roelf Haan, The Economics of Honor. Reviews in Religion and Theology 18(4): 582-584.
(07) Abraham, I. (2008) Review of Michael T. Luongo (ed.), Gay Travels in the Muslim World. Gay & Lesbian Issues in Psychology Review 4(3): 205-206.
(06) Abraham, I. (2008) Review of William Stacy Johnson, A Time to Embrace: Same-Gender Relationships in Religion, Law, and Politics. Reviews in Religion and Theology 15(2): 229-231.
(05) Abraham, I. (2007) Review of Matthew Kuefler (ed.), The Boswell Thesis: Essays on Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality. Journal of Religious History 31(4): 494-495.
(04) Abraham, I. (2007) Review of Khaled El-Rouayheb, Before Homosexuality in the Arab-Islamic World: 1500-1800. Journal of Religious History 31(4): 481-482.
(03) Abraham, I. (2007) Review of Aline H. Kalbian, Sexing the Church: Gender, Power, and Ethics in Contemporary Catholicism. Journal of Religious History 31(2): 217-219.
(02) Abraham, I. (2006) Review of Mark Beaumont, Christology in Dialogue with Muslims. Reviews in Religion and Theology 13(3): 301-304.
(01) Abraham, I. (2006) Review of miriam cooke and Bruce B. Lawrence (eds) Muslim Networks from Hajj to Hip Hop. Journal of Religious History 30(2): 269-270.