Pentecostal forms across religious divides: Media, publicity, and the limits of an anthropology of global Pentecostalism

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Scholars of Pentecostalism have usually studied people who embrace it, but rarely those who do not. I suggest that the study of global Pentecostalism should not limit itself to Pentecostal churches and movements and people who consider themselves Pentecostal. It should include the repercussions of Pentecostal ideas and forms outside Pentecostalism: on non-Pentecostal and non-Christian religions, on popular cultural forms, and on what counts as ‘religion’ or ‘being religious’.
Based on my ethnographic study of a charismatic-Pentecostal mega-church and a neo-traditional African religious movement in Ghana, I argue that neo-Pentecostalism, due to its strong and mass-mediated public presence, provides a powerful model for the public representation of religion in general, and some of its forms are being adopted by non-Pentecostal and non-Christian groups,
including the militantly anti-Pentecostal Afrikania Mission. Instead of treating neo-Pentecostal and neo-traditionalist revival as distinct religious phenomena, I propose to take seriously their intertwinement in a single religious field and argue that one cannot sufficiently understand the rise of new religious movements without understanding how they influence each other, borrow from
each other, and define themselves vis-à-vis each other. This has consequences for how we conceive of the study of Pentecostalism and how we define its object.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


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