Religious and secular convictions have powerful effects, but their foundations are often surprisingly fragile. New converts often come across as stringent believers precisely because they need to dispel their own lingering doubts, while revolutionary movements survive only through the denial of ambiguity. This book shows that a focus on uncertainty and doubt is indispensible for grasping the role of ideas in social action. Drawing on a wide range of cases, from spirit mediums in Taiwan to Maoist revolutionaries in India, from right-wing populists in Europe to converts to Pentecostalism in Central Asia, the authors analyse the ways in which doubt is overcome and, conversely, how belief-systems collapse. In doing so, Ethnographies of Doubt provides important insights into the cycles of faith, hope, conviction and disillusion that are intrinsic to the human condition.
Liberatore, G. (2013) ‘Doubt as a double-edged sword: unanswerable questions and practical solutions among newly practising Somali women in London’, in Pelkmans, M.E. (ed) Ethnographies of doubt: faith and uncertainty in contemporary societies, I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd, pp. 225-250