San Nicolás de Zurite: Religion and daily life of a Peruvian Andean village in a changing world (1995, VU University Press)

This book provides the first detailed anthropological account of the politics of religion in a Peruvian Andean village between 1985 and 1991. It traces the modern Catholic clergy’s strategy of keeping the parish alive while their societal position is weaker than ever before. The emergence of evangelical churches is discussed by focusing on the question of why modern peasants willingly convert to Protestantism. By concentrating on the relations between healers-sorcerers and their peasant clientele, the ever-continuing indigenous religion is analyzed. Departing from the sociology of Norbert Elias, local life is viewed as part of wider societal developments, such as the (then) accelerating globalization of society.
Like in Religious Regimes in Peru, this sociological model consists of behavioral regimes as processes formed by interdependent people. Within such regimes, the people involved share certain types of behavior (at least to some extent), while they experience certain needs and wishes as well as social constraints exercised by other people. Such regimes also determine people’s perceptions to a considerable extent. Simple as it may sound, this sociological model had not yet been used before as such, while it has turned out to be very effective for not only analyzing Peruvian religion and politics but also, in fact, for investigating all social situations worldwide.
This book resulted from my cultural anthropological fieldwork studies between 1985 and 1991 in the Peruvian Andean village of Zurite. It complements my cum laude PhD thesis Religious Regimes in Peru defended at the University of Amsterdam on October 12, 1992.
The ebook version (PDF) can be downloaded  here for free.
The official book presentation on August 9, 1996, in the Salón de Grados, Paraninfo Universitario UNSAAC, Plaza de Armas, Cusco can be watched here.
Praise for San Nicolás de Zurite:
“Reconstructs politics of the relationship between Catholicism, Protestantism, and indigenous religion in a Peruvian Andean community. Combines interpretation of historical documents with ethnographic observations to compare modernizing ideologies of both Catholics and Protestants.” Handbook of Latin American Studies, 57,1997
“Until recently anthropologists have devoted little systematic attention to the role of the Catholic clergy in Andean towns and villages since the 17th century, or more broadly to the extralocal forces that continue to shape local religion. This is now changing and Spier’s short book is one welcome sign of the trend. [...] The book is strongest when it integrates this sort of attention to religious specialists and extralocal forces with a full consideration of local parishioners' initiatives and responses.” Barry J. Lyons in: American Anthropologist 99,3, p.674 (1997)
Videos and Podcasts