Becoming Sinners

Christianity and Moral Torment in a Papua New Guinea Society

by Joel Robbins

2011 J. I. Staley Prize

Becoming Sinners: Christianity and Moral Torment in a Papua New Guinea Society by Joel Robbins2006. University of California Press2006. University of California Press

Joel Robbins’s Becoming Sinners is the story of how the Urapmin, a small Papua New Guinea indigenous community, came to see themselves as “sinners” through the contradictions that followed their wholesale adoption of Christianity while remaining embedded in Urapmin social morality. Confounded by Christian notions of individualism and Urapmin emphasis on kin and community as central to moral life, they attempt to resolve the tensions through “everyday millennialism” that seeks community salvation through individual piety. As such, this ethnographic case study illuminates how global processes of culture change and religious conversion have played out among local peoples around the world.

Joel Robbins, Professor of Anthropology, UC San Diego