Dr. Anderson Blanton, 2014-2016
During his tenure as a postdoctoral scholar at the MPI, Anderson Blanton conducted 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.