Griera, “New Christian Geographies”

Greira, Mar. 2013. New Christian Geographies: Pentecostalism and Ethnic Minorities in Barcelona. In Sites and Politics of Religious Diversity in Southern Europe. Ruy Blanes and Jose Mapril, eds. 225-250. London: Brill.

Garbin, “Visibility and Invisibility”

Garbin, David. 2013. The Visibility and Invisibility of Migrant Faith in the City: Diaspora Religion and the Politics of Emplacement of Afro-Christian Churches. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 39(5):677-696.

Abstract: In today’s post-industrial city, migrants and ethnic minorities are forming, through their religious practices, particular spaces of alterity, often at the ‘margin’ of the urban experience—for instance, in converting anonymous warehouses into places of worship. This paper examines diverse facets of the religious spatiality of Afro-Christian diasporic churches—from local emplacement to the more visible public parade of faith in the urban landscape. One of the aims is to explore to what extent particular spatial configurations and locations constitute ‘objective expression’ of social status and symbolic positionalities in the post-migration secular environment of the ‘host societies’. Without denying the impact of urban marginality, the paper shows how religious groups such as African Pentecostal and Prophetic churches are also engaged, in their own terms, in a transformative project of spatial appropriation, regeneration and re-enchantment of the urban landscape. The case study of the Congolese Kimbanguist Church in London and Atlanta also demonstrates the need to examine the articulation of local, transnational and global practices and imaginaries to understand how religious and ethnic identities are renegotiated in newly ‘localised’ diasporic settings.

Lamont, “Lip-Synch Gospel”

Lamont, Mark.  2011.  Lip-synch Gospel: Christian Music and the Ethnopoetics of Identity in Kenya.  Africa 80(3): 473-496.

Abstract:  In recent years there has been an outpouring of Kenyan scholarship on the ways popular musicians engage with politics in the public sphere. With respect to the rise in the 1990s and 2000s of gospel music – whose politics are more pietistic than activist – this article challenges how to ‘understand’ the politics of gospel music taken from a small speech community, in this case the Meru. In observing street performances of a new style of preaching, ‘lip-synch’ gospel, I offer ethnographic readings of song lyrics to show that Meru’s gospel singers can address moral debates not readily aired in mainline and Pentecostal-Charismatic churches. Critical of hypocrisy in the church and engaging with a wider politics of belonging and identity, Meru gospel singers weave localized ethnopoetics into their Christian music, with the effect that their politics effectively remain concealed within Meru and invisible to the national public sphere. While contesting the perceived corruption, sin and hypocrisy in everyday sociality, such Meru gospel singer groups cannot rightly be considered a local ‘counter-public’ because they still work their politics in the shadows of the churches.

Austin, “Quaker Brotherhood”

Austin, Allan W. 2012. Quaker Brotherhood: Interracial Activism and the American Friends Service Committee, 1917-1950. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

Publisher’s Description: The Religious Society of Friends and its service organization, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), have long been known for their peace and justice activism. The abolitionist work of Friends during the antebellum era has been well documented, and their contemporary anti-war and anti-racism work is familiar to activists around the world. Quaker Brotherhood is the first extensive study of the AFSC’s interracial activism in the first half of the twentieth century, filling a major gap in scholarship on the Quakers’ race relations work from the AFSC’s founding in 1917 to the beginnings of the civil rights movement in the early 1950s.

Allan W. Austin tracks the evolution of key AFSC projects, such as the Interracial Section and the American Interracial Peace Committee, that demonstrate the tentativeness of the Friends’ activism in the 1920s, as well as efforts in the 1930s to make scholarly ideas and activist work more theologically relevant for Friends. Documenting the AFSC’s efforts to help European and Japanese American refugees during World War II, Austin shows that by 1950 Quakers in the AFSC had honed a distinctly Friendly approach to interracial relations that combined scholarly understandings of race with their religious views.

In tracing the transformation of one of the most influential social activist groups in the United States over the first half of the twentieth century, Quaker Brotherhood presents Friends in a thoughtful, thorough, and even-handed manner. Austin portrays the history of the AFSC and race–highlighting the organization’s boldness in some aspects and its timidity in others–as an ongoing struggle that provides a foundation for understanding how shared agency might function in an imperfect and often racist world.

Highlighting the complicated and sometimes controversial connections between Quakers and race during this era, Austin uncovers important aspects of the history of Friends, pacifism, feminism, American religion, immigration, ethnicity, and the early roots of multiculturalism.

Lofstedt, “Religious Revival among Orthodox and Pentecostals in Russia”

Lofstedt, Torsten. 2012. Religious Revival among Orthodox and Pentecostals in Russia: causes and limitations. Religion, State, and Society 40(1):92-111.

Abstract: In Russia in the late 1980s and early 1990s churches and denominations of all kinds grew quickly. Among those that grew most quickly were the Pentecostals. My impression is that by the mid-1990s, however, the growth rate for the leading Pentecostal denominations had slowed down considerably. In this paper I try to ascertain whether this in fact is the case and if so, what the causes for the slowdown in growth might have been. Because denominations have been reticent in sharing official membership statistics, I have looked for evidence of denominational growth rates in other places and have found evidence for a slowdown. I have then sought to explain the end of the revival among the Pentecostals. I find that the weakening of the Pentecostal churches is coupled with the strengthening of the Russian Orthodox Church in Russian society. The Orthodox Church has come to serve as an ethnic marker and it has successfully persuaded its adherents that non-Orthodox forms of Christianity are foreign sects. While I present little new empirical material, I ask new questions of the material available which help explain the slowdown in church growth among Russian Pentecostals.