Building in the Margins of Shacks

Building in the Margins of Shacks

Product ID: 11201

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Author: Ananta Kumar Giri
Publisher: Orient Longman
Year: 2002
Language: English
Pages: 298
ISBN/UPC (if available): 978-81-250-2181-0


In this unusual study which combines anthropology and theories of global transformations in novel and creative ways, the author describes the global work of Habitat for Humanity. Lucidly written and carefully argued, this book is a significant contribution to the study of religion, social movements and globalization.

Our contemporary moment is characterized by a global resurgence of religion which manifests itself in many forms – from religious fundamentalism to a spiritual renewal of self and society. While religious fundamentalism and its globalization has aroused much interest and concern, mobilization of practical spirituality at the contemporary juncture has been a neglected theme and area of scholarly exploration.

It describes how Habitat builds in the margins of shacks in communities in the USA and in India, one of more than fifty countries around the globe where this movement is at work. There is currently a lamentable dearth of ethnography in this field and the book probably presents the first ever anthropological study of a transnational voluntary organization and social movement. The book also charts the pathways of a new anthropology-one which takes the global and spiritual dimensions of the human condition seriously and contributes to a new hermeneutics of recovery.

It would be of interest not only to scholars in such diverse fields as anthropology, philosophy, sociology and religious studies but also to activists in voluntary organizations and social movements in the emerging transnational public sphere and to spiritual seekers everywhere in the world.


Ananta Giri has written a fascinating study of Habitat for Humanity International that breaks new ground in the study of religion and globalization. By looking at Habitat cross-culturally (USA and India) he is able to show us the multiple dimensions of spirituality, culture, society and self at work-in these different sites. His sympathetic but not uncritical study of Habitat opens up new possibilities for understanding the changing role of religion in today’s world. This book will be indispensable for all students of religion and globalization.

-Robert N Bellah
Elliott Professor of Sociology, Emeritus
University of California, Berkeley

There is much talk about a global civil society and transnational civic action but little research. This study examines civic action anthropologically; it is anthropology and yet transnational and comparative; it considers ethical and spiritual questions and takes them down to the grassroots level; it is theoretically savvy, yet field wise. In a word, an uncommon study.

-Jan Nederveen Pieterse
Professor of Sociology
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign




Globalization, Religion and the Promise of Ethnography

Describing the Vision: Habitat for Humanity and No More Shacks

Convicted by the Holy Spirit: The Actors of Habitat in Affiliates in the United States

Making the Mud Pie: Building Homes and Building Communities in the American Heartland

Building a Global Covenant? The International Partners of Habitat for Humanity

From Immokalee to Koovappally: Habitat for Humanity at Work

A Glimpse into a Sponsored Project: The Dynamics of Habitat in the Villages of Khammam

Building in the Margins of Shacks: The Limits and Possibilities of Practical Spirituality