Eriksen, “Sarah’s Sinfulness Egalitarianism, Denied Difference, and Gender in Pentecostal Christianity”

Eriksen, Annelin. 2014. Sarah’s Sinfulness: Egalitarianism, Denied Difference, and Gender in Pentecostal Christianity. Current Anthropology DOI: 10.1086/678288

Abstract: Early anthropological studies of Pentecostalism and gender, dominated by Latin American and Caribbean ethnography, focused to a large extent on women’s conversion and how Pentecostal ideology has limited masculine oppressive behavior and provided women with social community, faith healing, domestic counseling, and so forth. These studies of Pentecostalism have thus been dominated by a focus on women on the one hand and on social community and social change on the other. The primary question asked in these studies has been, does Pentecostalism bring about an increased degree of equality? With the development of the anthropology of Christianity, the focus has shifted to a more thoroughgoing understanding of Christianity as a culture. In this paper I argue that this shift can also stimulate a shift in the way we study equality and gender in Pentecostalism. Instead of looking at men and women’s roles, we need to look at the specific idea of egalitarianism that this form of Christianity brings about and how this shapes the way in which gendered difference is articulated. I present a case from Vanuatu, South West Pacific, arguing that we need to look at gendered values, and I suggest a focus on what I call “the charismatic space.”

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