Olsson, “Jesus for Zanzibar”

Olsson, Hans. 2016. Jesus for Zanzibar: Narratives of Pentecostal Belonging, Islam, and Nation. Doctoral Dissertation, Centre for Theology and Religious Studies. Lund: Lund University.

Excerpt: The study focuses on the City Christian Center, Zanzibar’s largest Pentecostal church and a major outreach of the Tanzania Assemblies of God in the archipelago, which was founded, and is growing, in conjunction with increased flows of labor migration, primarily from Mainland Tanzania to Zanzibar, over the past decades. In relation to the Zanzibar setting in general, and vis-a-vis political projects of creating a Zanzibari national identity in particular, the CCC congregation has become a locus of tension for several reasons. First and foremost, with an outspoken mission to expand Christianity – captured in the slogan “Jesus for Zanzibar” – the CCC brings a narrative of religious change to Zanzibar society.

Reinhardt, “Praying until Jesus returns”

Bruno Reinhardt, “Praying until Jesus returns: commitment and prayerfulness among charismatic Christians in Ghana” Religion, published online 14 November 2016. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0048721X.2016.1225907

Abstract: Charismatic Christians in Ghana display heterogeneous intensities of personal piety, often mapped out by believers to levels of ‘spiritual maturation’. In this article, I examine the devotional routines of ‘committed’ Christians, individuals recognized as ‘prayerful’ subjects. Through Marcel Mauss’ incidental definition of prayer as an ‘expenditure of physical and moral energy’, I investigate ethnographically the methods whereby prayerfulness comes about. I argue that charismatic prayer is not a discernible object of inquiry, but an ongoing field of ethical problematization driven forward by two modes of physical and moral expenditure: habit and anticipation. From this angle, spiritual maturity indicates not a durable ethical asset, but a continuous effort to produce homeostatic balance between these embodied temporal forces. I conclude by stressing how attention to the internal goods of prayer allow us to integrate vulnerability within religious projects, instead of reducing it to an external causal force, as in most deprivation theories of religion.

Golomski, “Risk, Mistake, and Generational Contest”

Golomski, Casey. 2016. Risk, Mistake, and Generational Contest in Body Rituals of Swazi Jerikho Zionism. Journal of Contemporary Religion 31(3): 351-364. 

Abstract: This article situates an approach to ritual efficacy and risk by focusing on bodily rituals of the Swazi Zionist Jerikho church in socio-historical context. The Jerikho church distinguishes itself by the use of purgative hallucinogenics and a circular march-run, both of which are meant to invoke the embodiment of holy spirits. This article analyzes the risk inherent in the procedures of rituals and how risk manifested in two cases in 2010 and 2011, which challenged bodily and social wellbeing and ritual knowledge for both church members and the broader public. I show how harmful ritual mistakes were explained away and enveloped within co-existing systems of religious and socio-medical knowledge by way of the intergenerational social relations through which the rituals were produced. Church elders attributed mistakes to youthful incompetence, which reaffirmed the organizational and cultural practice of the Jerikho church and elided with a public moral discourse about risky youth and HIV/AIDS.

Sensational Movies: Book Review

Meyer, Birgit. 2015. Sensational Movies: Video, Vision, and Christianity in Ghana. Oakland, CA: University of California Press.

By John Durham Peters and Gavin Feller (University of Iowa)

One of the most exciting things about the anthropology of Christianity is the way it uses the minutiae of practices in out of the way cultures to cast light on ancient and deep philosophical and religious questions. To think about will and personhood, one can turn equally to St. Augustine and to Joel Robbins’ Urapmin. To think about translation and denominational schism, one can turn equally to Martin Luther and to Courtney Handman’s Guhu-Samane Christians. (Like the Urapmin, they live in New Guinea.) The anthropology of Christianity likes to coax theologizing from its armchair and show it at work in the wild, in the field, in vernacular forms.

Birgit Meyer’s Sensational Movies is a worthy contribution in this project. Amassing and integrating over two decades of her research, the book shows, as we will see, how richly the film culture of south Ghana treats the theological problem of necessary but productive evil and the theoretical problem of the ontology of the photographic or cinematic image. The producers, actors, and audiences she has worked with over the years may not be trained religious thinkers or media theorists, but their constant meditations about the occult, about the nature of acting, the power of the image, and the willing suspension of disbelief show them to have rich ideas about how media can form entities in this world and the world beyond. The resulting book is a major contribution to the interdisciplinary sweet spot where religion, media, and cultural anthropology converge. Continue reading

Manglos-Weber, “Religious Transformations and Generalized Trust”

Manglos-Weber, Nicolette D.  2016. Religious Transformations and Generalized Trust in Sub-Saharan Africa.  Social Indicators Research. Early online publication.

Abstract: Prominent versions of social capital theory presume a positive link between voluntary memberships—including religious memberships—and generalized trust in society. Yet this relationship has not been tested in sub-Saharan Africa, a region with low average levels of generalized trust and high levels of religious membership and participation, where the rise of Charismatic Evangelical churches has recently transformed the religious landscape. Contrary hypotheses based in a theory of oppositional subcultures would suggest that memberships in such churches could dampen generalized trust due to their oppositional discourse vis a vis the wider society. In this paper, I use 2008 Afrobarometer survey data from seven countries in the region to test these contrasting hypotheses, analyzing both the pooled data and the separate country datasets. I find mixed evidence for the link between religious membership and generalized trust, and more consistent evidence that affiliating with a Charismatic Evangelical group is negatively associated with generalized trust. The study supports the conclusion that the link between religious membership and generalized trust is dependent on both the context and the content of the discourse circulating in religious settings.

Chitando and van Klinken (eds), “Christianity and Controversies over Homosexuality”

Chitando, Ezra and Adriaan van Klinken.  2016. Christianity and Controversies over Homosexuality in Contemporary Africa. New York: Routledge.

Publisher’s Description: Issues of homosexuality are the subject of public and political controversy in many African societies today. Frequently, these controversies receive widespread attention both locally and globally, such as with the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda. In the international media, these cases tend to be presented as revealing a deeply-rooted homophobia in Africa fuelled by religious and cultural traditions. But so far little energy is expended in understanding these controversies in all their complexity and the critical role religion plays in them. Complementing the companion volume, Public Religion and the Politics of Homosexuality in Africa, this book investigates Christian politics and discourses on homosexuality in sub-Saharan Africa. The contributors present case studies from various African countries, from Nigeria to South Africa and from Cameroon to Uganda, focusing on Pentecostal, Catholic and mainline Protestant churches. They critically examine popular Christian theologies that perpetuate homophobia and discrimination, but they also discuss contestations of such discourses and emerging alternative Christian perspectives that contribute to the recognition of sexual diversity, social justice and human rights in contemporary Africa.

Contents:

Introduction: Christianity and the Politics of Homosexuality in Africa Adriaan van Klinken and Ezra Chitando

Part I: Pentecostalism as a Public Religion

1. Sexual Bodies, Sacred Vessels: Pentecostal Discourses on Homosexuality in Nigeria Asonzeh Ukah

2. Scandal Makers: Competition in the Religious Market among Pentecostal-Charismatic Churches in Uganda Caroline Valois

3. The Homophobic Trinity: Pentecostal End-time, Prosperity and Healing Gospels as Contributors to Homophobia in Cameroon Frida Lyonga

4. A Kenyan Queer Prophet: Binyavanga Wainaina’s Public Contestation of Pentecostalism and Homophobia Adriaan van Klinken

Part II: Broader Christian Case Studies and Perspectives

5. Christianity, Homosexuality and Public Politics in Zambia Derrick M. Muwina

6. The Anti-homosexual Narrative in the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe: Political Diatribe or Religious Conservatism? Lovemore Ndlovu

7. Queer Fragility and Christian Social Ethics: A Political Interpolation of the Catholic Church in Cameroon S.N. Nyeck

8. Is “Being Right” More Important than “Being Together”? Intercultural Bible Reading and Life-giving Dialogue on Homosexuality in the Dutch Reformed Church, South Africa Charlene van der Walt

Part III: Christian Subversions and Transformations

9. Enduring and Subverting Homophobia: Religious Experiences of Same-sex Loving People in Zimbabwe Nelson Muparamoto

10. ‘Born this Way’: The Imago Dei in Men Who Love Other Men in Lusaka, Zambia Lilly Phiri

11. Unlikely Allies? Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Activists and Church Leaders in Africa Ezra Chitando and Tapiwa P. Mapuranga

12. Reconfiguring a Biblical Story (Genesis 19) in the Context of South African Discussions about Homosexuality Gerald O. West

van Klinken and Chitando (eds), “Public Religion and the Politics of Homosexuality in Africa”

van Klinken, Adriaan, and Ezra Chitando, eds. 2016. Public Religion and the Politics of Homosexuality in Africa. Oxford: Routledge.

Publisher’s Description: Issues of same-sex relationships and gay and lesbian rights are the subject of public and political controversy in many African societies today. Frequently, these controversies receive widespread attention both locally and globally, such as with the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda. In the international media, these cases tend to be presented as revealing a deeply-rooted homophobia in Africa fuelled by religious and cultural traditions. But so far little energy is expended in understanding these controversies in all their complexity and the critical role religion plays in them. This is the first book with multidisciplinary perspectives on religion and homosexuality in Africa. It presents case studies from across the continent, from Egypt to Zimbabwe and from Senegal to Kenya, and covers religious traditions such as Islam, Christianity and Rastafarianism. The contributors explore the role of religion in the politicisation of homosexuality, investigate local and global mobilisations of power, critically examine dominant religious discourses, and highlight the emergence of counter-discourses. Hence they reveal the crucial yet ambivalent public role of religion in matters of sexuality, social justice and human rights in contemporary Africa.

Contents:

Introduction: Public Religion, Homophobia and the Politics of Homosexuality in Africa Adriaan van Klinken and Ezra Chitando

I The Politicisation of Homosexuality

1. ‘For God and For My Country’: Pentecostal-Charismatic Churches and the Framing of a New Political Discourse in Uganda Barbara Bompani

2. Uniting a Divided Nation? Nigerian Muslim and Christian Responses to the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act Danoye Oguntola-Laguda and Adriaan van Klinken

3. Discourses on Homosexuality in Egypt: When Religion and the State Cooperate Serena Tolino

4. ‘We Will Chop Their heads Off’: Homosexuality versus Religio-political Grandstanding in Zimbabwe Molly Manyonganise

5. ‘Un-natural, ‘un-African’ and ‘un-Islamic’: The Three Pronged Onslaught Undermining Homosexual Freedom in Kenya Hassan J. Ndzovu

6. Côte d’Ivoire and the New Homophobia: The Autochthonous Ethic and the Spirit of Neo-Liberalism Joseph Hellweg

II Global and Local Mobilisations

7. An African or Un-African Sexual Identity? Religion, Globalisation and Sexual Politics in sub-Saharan Africa Kapya Kaoma

8. The Extraversion of Homophobia: Global Politics and Sexuality in Uganda Jia Hui Lee

9. Religious Inspiration: Indigenous Mobilisation against LGBTI Rights in Post-conflict Liberia Ashley Currier and Joëlle M. Cruz

10. Islamic Movements against Homosexuality in Senegal: The Fight against AIDS as Catalyst Christophe Broqua

11. One Love or Chanting Down Same-Sex Relations? Queering Zimbabwean Rastafari Perspectives on Homosexuality Fortune Sibanda

12. Narratives of ‘Saints’ and ‘Sinners’ in Uganda: Contemporary (Re)presentations of the 1886 Story of ‘Queer’ Mwanga and Ganda ‘Martyrs’ Prince Karakire Guma III Contestation, Subversion and Resistance

13. Critique and Alternative Imaginations: Homosexuality and Religion in Contemporary Zimbabwean Literature Pauline Mateveke

14. Christianity, Human Rights and LGBTI Advocacy: The Case of Dette Resources Foundation in Zambia Adriaan van Klinken

15. ‘I Was On Fire’: The Challenge of Counter-intimacies within Zimbabwean Christianity Nathanael Homewood

16. Critical Realism and LGBTIQ Rights in Africa Richard McCarty and Jay Breneman

Appendix: African LGBTI Manifesto

Golomski, “Wearing Memories”

Golomski, Casey. 2016. Wearing Memories: Clothing and the Global Lives of Mourning in Swaziland. Material Religion 11(3): 303-327.

Abstract: This article situates a cultural phenomenon of women’s memory work through clothing in Swaziland. It explores clothing as both action and object of everyday, personalized practice that constitutes psychosocial well-being and material proximities between the living and the dead, namely, in how clothing of the deceased is privately possessed and ritually manipulated by the bereaved. While human and spiritual self-other relations are produced through clothing and its material efficacy, current global ideologies of immaterial mortuary ritual associated with Pentecostalism have emerged as contraries to this local, intersubjective grief work. This article describes how such contrarian ideologies paper over existing global aspects of people’s entangled relations with the dead – in three biographies of women and their objects – thus showing that memory work is not limited to people, goods, or ideas that flow between nations and expanding notions of the global and gendered practices of personhood.

Ntarangwi, “The Street Is My Pulpit”

Ntarangwi, Mwenda. 2016. The Street Is My Pulpit: Hip Hop and Christianity in Kenya. Urbana-Champaign: University of Illinois Press. 

Publisher’s Description: To some, Christianity and hip hop seem antithetical. Not so in Kenya. There, the music of Julius Owino, aka Juliani, blends faith and beats into a potent hip hop gospel aimed at a youth culture hungry for answers spiritual, material, and otherwise. Mwenda Ntarangwi explores the Kenyan hip hop scene through the lens of Juliani’s life and career. A born-again Christian, Juliani produces work highlighting the tensions between hip hop’s forceful self-expression and a pious approach to public life, even while contesting the basic presumptions of both. In The Street Is My Pulpit, Ntarangwi forges an uncommon collaboration with his subject that offers insights into Juliani’s art and goals even as Ntarangwi explores his own religious experience and subjective identity as an ethnographer. What emerges is an original contribution to the scholarship on hip hop’s global impact and a passionate study of the music’s role in shaping new ways of being Christian in Africa.

Cezula, “Reading the Bible in an African Context”

Cezula, Ntozakhe. 2015. Reading the Bible in the African context: Assessing Africa’s love affair with prosperity Gospel. Stellenbosch Theological Journal 1(2): 131–153.

Abstract: The aim of this article is to examine Bible reading in the African context and the willingness and enthusiasm to embrace prosperity gospel in Africa. To achieve this objective, a discussion on the developments in biblical interpretation in Africa will first be presented. This will be done by examining three historical periods: colonial, independence and democratisation periods. This will be followed by an outline of migrations that have taken place from traditional religions to different versions of Christianity in different times in Africa. These migrations will be examined in connection with Bible translation. The relationship between prosperity gospel and African people in Africa will be discussed by considering the tools prosperity gospel uses to appeal to African people, namely the religio-cultural and socio-economic factors. The article will then provide its assessment of contextual reading in the prosperity gospel and a conclusion will follow.