Abstract: Drawing on anthropological research in Oaxaca, Mexico, this article describes the role of health seeking in women’s experiences with Pentecostal conversion. The present study confirms that Pentecostalism’s promise of reforming problematic male behavior is a significant draw for women. Women’s stories of conversion are strikingly consistent in their accounts of male drinking, womanizing, and domestic violence. However, the findings also demonstrate that when efforts to domesticate men fail—and they often do—women still find significant ways in which Pentecostalism addresses suffering. The study provides a unique contribution to the literature by exploring that paradox in detail.
This article discusses conversion to Protestantism in the Zapotec communities of the State of Oaxaca in Southern Mexico. Conversion to Protestantism in these predominantly Catholic villages has a rupture effect on converts’ relationships with their families as well as the Catholic majority. This transformation can be interpreted as a ‘social cost’, which influences religious choices made by individuals and the sustainability of their new religious affiliations. The cost is generally higher for native villagers than for migrants to the communities. Focusing on the adverse effects of conversion and scrutinising the choices of individuals who do not convert or who return to their previous faith contributes to a more nuanced understanding of religious change. The process is often far more complex and multi-directional at the local level than macro-level trends of rapid Protestant growth suggest.
Abstract: In recent decades, Protestant population has grown rapidly in most Latin American countries, including Mexico. The growth has been particularly fast in rural and indigenous areas, where Protestantism is often claimed to trigger profound socio-cultural changes. This article discusses the impact of Protestant growth on customs, collective practices and local identities using the example of indigenous Zapotec communities of the Sierra Juárez in northern Oaxaca. Drawing on the author’s intermittent fieldwork in the region since 1998, most recently in 2012, the article first scrutinises some of the recurring local perceptions of Protestant growth in the Sierra Juárez and their impact on communal life. Particular attention will be paid to converts’ break with various customary practices pertaining to what locally is referred to as usos y costumbres. The article will then critically revise the claims about the culturally destructive influence of Protestantism, suggesting that the socio-cultural changes in contemporary indigenous communities of Oaxaca may actually be caused by more general modernising and globalising forces, and that the transformative role of Protestantism is often exaggerated.