Dr. Anderson Blanton

Dr. Anderson Blanton

Anthropology

During his tenure as a postdoctoral scholar at the MPI, Anderson was conducting ethnographic and archival research on the Far East Broadcasting Company (FEBC), the most powerful radio station ever constructed for the purposes of Christian missionization. With transmission equipment reclaimed from U.S. military engagements in the Pacific during WWII, this station blanketed Asia with gospel broadcasts originating from the FEBC headquarters in Manila. A crucial aspect of this technology of missionization included the distribution of thousands of “portable missionaries,” or small mahogany radio sets that were strategically engineered only to receive the missionary broadcast. 

After completing his doctoral work with distinction in the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University, Anderson was awarded a research grant in conjunction with the Social Science Research Council’s “New Directions in the Study of Prayer” research initiative (2012-2014). As part of this two-year project, he curated a collection of objects and theoretical reflections on the Materiality of Prayer (http://forums.ssrc.org/ndsp/category/materiality/). Combining theories of technology and material culture with ethnographic description, this collection demonstrates the way religious experience in the late modern world has been profoundly organized and augmented by media technologies and devotional objects.  In addition to his work on technologies of missionization and the question of materiality, Anderson enjoys woodworking with traditional hand tools. 

Publications

Books

[2015] Hittin’ the Prayer Bones: Materiality of Spirit in the Pentecostal South. Chapel Hill and London: The University of North Carolina Press.  Link

Articles in Edited Volumes

[2015] “prayer”. In Key Terms in Material Religion. S. Brent Plate, ed. London: Bloomsbury Academic. (Invited essay)

[2015] “Media Ritual: Radio and the Formative Years of Mass Mediated Healing”. In Language and Religion. Handman, Lerich and Yelle, eds. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. (Invited essay)

[2015] “The Apparatus of Belief: Sensory Displacement and the Production of Sacred Presence”. In Prayer Machines. Charles Hirschkind, ed. Cambridge: Zone.

[2012] “Radio Prayers in Appalachia: The Prosthesis of the Holy Ghost and the Drive to Tactility”. In Radio Fields: Anthropology and Wireless Sound in the 21st Century. Bessire and Fisher, eds. New York: New York University Press. (Invited essay)

Curated Collections