"If God Is with Us, Who Can Be against Us?" Christianity, Cosmopolitics, and Living with Difference in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo
This article puts the analytic of “indigenous cosmopolitics” (as used by Mario Blaser and Marisol de la Cadena) in dialogue with the anthropology of Christianity through an ethnography of a dam construction and resettlement project in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo. Drawing on long-term fieldwork in the area, I explore how both God and Christian ethnotheology became imbricated with a group of indigenous villagers’ legal struggle to resist the scheme and the template of progressive, modern citizenship bound up with it. I suggest that the villagers’ efforts constituted a form of Christian cosmopolitics that sought to disrupt Sarawakian politics as usual by bringing a previously inconceivable outcome—and a different way of being different—into being. Their eventual victory and its aftermath, however, raise critical questions about the limits and untapped possibilities of “cosmopolitical” proposals, as well as about contemporary anthropology’s own ethicopolitical approaches to difference.