Abstract: In this article, the author explores the role of religion in social constructions of heterosexual masculinity in South Africa in the context of civil society driven programs to fight sexual and gender-based violence and the spread of HIV. Critically engaging with the concept of hegemonic masculinity and the sociological literature on gender relations in conservative Christian communities, the author examines how Charismatic Christian and Pentecostal communities in the townships of Cape Town negotiate their model of masculinity and gender authority in the context of the prevailing hegemonies of ‘traditional’ and ‘liberal’ masculinity. Based on ethnographic observations and qualitative interviews with Pentecostal men, the author specifies the concrete mechanisms whereby Pentecostalism both contributes to transform but also to reproduce rather than undermine hegemonic masculinity. He finds that Pentecostalism responsibilizes men not because men adopt its sexual ideology but because they adopt its model of personhood.
Wignall, Ross. 2016. From Swagger to Serious: Managing Young Masculinities between Faiths at a Young Men’s Christian Association Centre in The Gambia. Journal of Religion in Africa 46(2-3): 288-323.
Abstract: A renewed focus on studies of masculinity in Africa has so far failed to account for the growing importance of nonproselytizing Faith-Based Organisations (FBOs) in the gendering process. This article seeks to address this issue through a case study of the Gambian branch of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA). YMCA leaders generate a culture of dynamic leadership that equates to a form of ‘hegemonic masculinity’ based on love, self-sacrifice, and obligation. This article shows how this process is implicated in a series of tensions between the young men and their peers, families, elders, and leaders. While many young men want to ‘have swagger’, they are called ‘stubborn’ and urged to ‘get serious’. Through an ethnographic portrait, the author uses these tensions to explore how YMCA ideals of manhood may be superimposing forms of Euro-American, Christian masculinity onto Muslim Gambian men, replicating colonial modes of control, inequality, and oppression.
van Klinken, Adriaan. 2016. Pentecostalism, Political Masculinity and Citizenship: The Born-Again Male Subject as Key to Zambia’s National Redemption. Journal of Religion in Africa 46(2-3): 129-157.
Abstract: Africa has become a key site of masculinity politics, that is, of mobilisations and struggles where masculine gender is made a principal theme and subjected to change. Pentecostalism is widely considered to present a particular form of masculinity politics in contemporary African societies. Scholarship on African Pentecostal masculinities has mainly centred around the thesis of the domestication of men, focusing on changes in domestic spheres and in marital and intimate relations. Through an analysis of a sermon series preached by a prominent Zambian Pentecostal pastor, this article demonstrates that Pentecostal discourse on adult, middle- to upper-class masculinity is also highly concerned with men’s roles in sociopolitical spheres. It argues that in this case study the construction of a born-again masculinity is part of the broader Pentecostal political project of national redemption, which in Zambia has particular significance in light of the country constitutionally being a Christian nation. Hence the article examines how this construction of Pentecostal masculinity relates to broader notions of religious, political and gendered citizenship.
Abstract: This article suggests that the gendered aspects of charisma have so far been overlooked in recent scholarship and seeks to align studies of charismatic religious leaders more fully with studies of masculinity and the ‘masculinisation’ of Charismatic churches. Based on research conducted at the Church of Christ the King (CCK) in Brighton and Hove, UK, I analyses how leadership operates as a key language for mediating masculinity, giving young men ways of being manly within both Christian and church parameters as well as forming links between experienced leaders and their young apprentices. Focusing on a dramatic visit by a notorious international preacher as an instance of charismatic masculinity in action, the author shows how an understanding of a corporate culture of masculinity can lend new insight into our understanding of charisma as both a relational construct and a system of individual authority which is tested at times of crisis and succession.
Abstract: The basic premise of this paper is that oppressive and violent behaviour is not an essential aspect of the male identity. Seeking to comprehend the underlying causes of violence, specifically against women but also more generally, this paper examines some of the alternative ways of being a man that have accompanied Christianity. Through observation of some Pentecostals from New Ireland, I have concluded that new ways of being a man that are less oppressive and dominating for women are emerging. This phenomenon I argue is a step towards gender equality, since it involves creating more caring and equitable relationships and a step towards reducing violence both against women and in the community, since it embraces non-violent ways of being a man. Particularly useful in analysing the process of reforming men is Foucault’s work on governmentality since it relates well to the Pentecostal emphasis on radical change in being ‘born again’. Conversion for born-again Christians is more than simply abandoning sin; rather it involves the creation of a new self and becoming a new person. Similarly, Foucault argues that the individual practises the art of self-governance in re-forming her or himself as she or he desires.
Pieterse, Jim. 2016. Managing belief in a hostile world: experiencing gifts of the Spirit at a small Pentecostal Charismatic Church in Pretoria. Anthropology Southern Africa. Early online publication.
Abstract: This article focuses on the infrequency with which “gifts of the Spirit” are experienced during services at a small Pentecostal church in Pretoria, attended mostly by Afrikaans-speaking men who self-identify as homosexual. It aims to shed some light on the ways in which pastors work to shape churchgoers’ perceptions of the world, their place in it, as well as how experiences of marginalisation and suffering relate to spirits (and their absence) that are understood to mediate between heaven and earth. I argue that difficulties related to the cultivation of faith, on which relationships with the divine are constructed, frustrate direct experiences of spiritual gifts. I also show that certain steps are taken in this church, with varying degrees of success, to try and render the invisible corporeally present. An analysis of sermons is folded into a broader discussion of spiritual self-fashioning and the roles of technologies of the self within the church in an attempt to provide an inclusive, broad-based analysis of “gifts of the Spirit” in a Pentecostal Charismatic Church (PCC) that engages with religious belief on its own terms.
Thornton, Brendan Jamal. 2016. Negotiating respect: pentecostalism, masculinity, and the politics of spiritual authority in the Dominican Republic. [Place of publication not identified]: University of Florida Press.
Publisher’s Description: Negotiating Respect is an ethnographically rich investigation of Pentecostal Christianity–the Caribbean’s fastest growing religious movement–in the Dominican Republic. Based on fieldwork in a barrio of Villa Altagracia, Brendan Jamal Thornton examines the everyday practices of Pentecostal community members and the complex ways in which they negotiate legitimacy, recognition, and spiritual authority within the context of religious pluralism and Catholic cultural supremacy. Probing gender, faith, and identity from an anthropological perspective, he considers in detail the lives of young male churchgoers and their struggles with conversion and life in the streets. Thornton shows that conversion offers both spiritual and practical social value because it provides a strategic avenue for prestige and an acceptable way to transcend personal history. Through an exploration of the church and its relationship to barrio institutions like youth gangs and Dominican vodú, he further draws out the meaningful nuances of lived religion providing new insights into the social organization of belief and the significance of Pentecostal growth and popularity globally. The result is a fresh perspective on religious pluralism and contemporary religious and cultural change.
Abstract: Addressing the paradoxes of gender in Pentecostal churches attended by converts of African or Latin-American origin in Brussels, it is argued that religious and migratory experiences are intimately intermingled in these spaces and that, in most cases, the geographical shift experienced by male believers has led to questions regarding their “traditional” masculinity. Their capacity to hold the role of breadwinner has often been undermined and they experience a kind of vulnerability against which religious gendered ideology often provides assurance and self-esteem by affirming men as heads of the religious space and chiefs of the household unit. Pentecostal masculinity, although adhering to a model of hegemonic patriarchal masculinity regarding the sexual division of domestic tasks, the recognition of men’s formal authority, and an exclusive focus on young women as the purity “capital” of churches, also reveals significant ruptures with that model: religious discourse values domestic involvement, sensibility and gentleness, encouraged and valorised as masculine characteristics. This hybrid posture of Pentecostal masculinity appears as a contrasted gender repertoire allowing men of the church to oscillate between various identifications and social locations according to specific situations and different contexts of enunciation.
Abstract: Based on research in Tanzania, this article explores how masculine born-again Christian identities are constructed and enacted in a field of tension between Pentecostal/charismatic norms for masculine behaviour and popular cultural expectations of male honour and status. The author sheds light on the gendered aspects of conversion and highlights why becoming a born-again Christian often represents a different kind of challenge and a more radical change of lifestyle in the case of men. At the same time, the author argues that a thorough understanding of the ways in which born-again men negotiate identities and position themselves in the social world they live in requires that we move beyond the narrow focus on the oppositional aspects of born-again masculinities that characterises much of the literature on Pentecostal/charismatic Christianity and gender. Focusing particular attention on the recent neo-Pentecostal turn in Tanzania (and Africa), the article demonstrates how this kind of Christianity allows for transformations in private while at the same time providing room for the enactment of powerful masculine identities in public.
Abstract: Although the academic research on religion in Fiji and the South Pacific is substantial, there are few examples of studies that connect religion with the larger discourses of Fijian tradition and social life. Even fewer are the ones linking culturally specific notions of gender performances to Christian devotion. By utilizing the theoretical framework of colonial mimicry,1
I argue that the Christianization of Fiji, particularly its continued impact on the social organization of modern Fijian society, has been reliant upon its collusion with premodern Fijian notions of gender, power and consanguinity. Based on historical enquiries and ethnographic material, I develop the argument that while conversion may be understood as the conscious adoption and mimicking of the western notion of religion as presented by Wesleyan misGeir Henning Presterudstuensionaries in the 1800s, the Fijian understanding of their Christianity, the merging between Christian belief and Fijian social protocol and the consequent development of culturally specific articulations of Christian devotion have produced substantial differences from western theological practice and teaching. A central distinction is the close link between performances of masculinity and Christian devotion found among Fijian Methodists.