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'A Stranger in the Name of Jesus': Exploring Cosmopolitan Ethics in a Ugandan Christian Care Community

Susan Wardell

Abstract


This article uses the author’s ethnographic case study of a Christian youth work community in Uganda to inform a discussion around the theoretical relationship between cosmopolitan ideologies and Christian care ethics. Fieldwork conducted among the youth workers of ‘Moment of Truth Evangelistic Ministries’ (MOTEM), in Kampala, Uganda, between 2012 and 2014 highlighted a moral obligation to care. Two points of similarity are shown between this and what is usually described as a cosmopolitan ethic.The first is the basis of care in an identification with an imagined moral community – a transcendent and global ‘family of believers’ – and the second is a care orientation to a universal recipient. I discuss orientations to strangers, neighbours, village-mates, and family, in order to explore the faith-based youth worker as an embedded moral subject; situated in both local and global moral worlds. The article argues against other authors that have suggested religious fundamentalism is diametrically opposed to a cosmopolitan sensibility, using the case study to elucidate the complex and intersecting ways that cosmopolitan and Christian subjectivities can be experienced in the contemporary religious modernity of Kampala.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.11157/sites-id404