Abstract: This article is based on fieldwork in a Chinese Protestant house-church in Beijing—more specifically, it focuses on a form of group therapy, which took place in the vicinity of the church. It combines two phenomena usually studied separately, namely the popularity of Chinese underground churches and China’s so-called “psycho-boom.” Drawing on attachment theory, I focus on the psychic conflicts that draw certain people, in this case a young woman, Lin, to this kind of therapeutic/ritual context. Filial piety, the moral value that children should respect and honor their parents, who have sacrificed so much for them, remains a strong social norm in Chinese society. I argue that forbidden feelings such as anger directed at parents found expression in this Chinese house-church. The ritual and therapeutic context can be understood as a cultural defense mechanism, which celebrates an inversion of dominant societal norms.
Abstract: In African societies where HIV and AIDS are widespread, counselling is being used in an attempt to control people’s sexual relationships and has become an important industry. Counselling is centrally placed in many AIDS-related policies in Botswana and is sponsored by both the government and religious organisations. Within the broad spectrum of Christianity, Pentecostal churches are very active. They emphasise the refashioning of relationships by mediating moral imperatives and by engaging with psychological knowledge on personal behaviour and on techniques of counselling in a changing context of sexuality. This paper explores the significance of religious counselling in terms of the disciplining effects concerning personal behaviour and the ways in which this form of communication is generating a wider interest in this society. This is particularly attractive to members of the educated classes who are engaging with Pentecostal counselling as a way of refashioning their domain of intimate relations. Yet, it does not only provide informed ideas on intimate relations – being often one of the proclaimed objectives of counselling – it also produces a communication about intimate matters that is intended to inform a critique of socio-cultural conventions. This is a counter-cultural dynamic of counselling, which has been little noticed in the academic study of counselling practices in Africa.
Abstract: Analysing the public character of Brazilian Pentecostal counselling sessions in urban Mozambique, this paper aims to examine the configurations of exposure through which counselling acquires and produces sociocultural forms of intimacy. During ‘therapy of love’ sessions held by the Brazilian Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, strict bodily acts need to be performed publicly to authorise love. Drawing on the notion of religious habitus, the paper focuses on how the performativity of Brazilian Pentecostal counselling practices responds to and shapes a public culture of love and intimacy among upwardly mobile women in urban Mozambique, and how the performative scripts converts carry out during therapy result in ambiguous relationships.