Across Protestant denominations and congregations in South Korea, instances of t’ongsǒng kido, or “group prayer,” share a common feature: synchronous but unsynchronized individual prayers carried out in groups. In these groups, a cacophony of voices hinders the interpretability of any single voice.
Nicholas Harkness is an assistant professor of anthropology at Harvard University, specializing in linguistic and semiotic approaches to sociocultural analysis. He holds a B.A. from Columbia University and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, where his thesis was awarded the Richard Saller Prize for the most distinguished piece of scholarship in the social sciences. Before arriving at Harvard, Harkness was a Korea Foundation postdoctoral fellow at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Harkness's research interests range from the technical semiotic and linguistic to the more broadly ethnographic and sociocultural. In addition to his current book project focused on the role of the human voice in Christian South Korea, he has published on language and religion, paralinguistics and affect, performance and ritual, qualitative experience, and the role of language structure in social differentiation.