“…alcohol has often acquired the additional stigma of being associated with traditional ritual practices and the power of what missionaries view as pagan superstition and prior networks of communal identity”
…some Protestant Christian sects depict alcohol as an evil and dangerous substance that defiles the drinker and forbid its consumption. Aside from its prominent role in the temperance movements of Europe and the United States (Blocker 1989, Harrison 1971, Roberts 1984), this belief has been transported by missionaries to many colonial encounters and postcolonial situations. In those contexts, alcohol has often acquired the additional stigma of being associated with traditional ritual practices and the power of what missionaries view as pagan superstition and prior networks of communal identity. Hence, for example, Christian fundamentalists in Malawi have mandated that alcohol must be avoided to attain salvation both because of its evil nature and because of its association with the traditional extended family relations and obligations that thwart the attainment of worldly success in the Western individualist model (van Dijk 2002). Spier (1995) offers the telling example of Andean women opposing the conversion of their husbands to Protestantism precisely because abstinence from drinking would sever household connections to mutual aid networks. Such examples are widespread in Africa, Latin America, and other places where missionaries have been active (e.g., Eber 2000, Heath 2000, Willis 2002). This has frequently resulted in alcohol serving as a highly charged focus of symbolic contestation in identity struggles between not only traditionalists and Christian converts, but also between Protestant and Catholic converts (Luning 2002).
Michael Dietler, “Alcohol: Anthropological/Archaeological Perspectives”, Annual Review of Anthropology, vol. 35 (2006), 242.