Abstract: In this article I discuss ‘the Pentecostal gender paradox’, famously coined by Bernice Martin. I do so by comparing Melanesian and Pentecostal forms of egalitarianism. My argument centers on the contention that in order for this paradox to emerge, specific concepts of equality and gender have to be kept fixed across contexts where they may not necessarily be stable. Pentecostalism has a specific effect on the role of women in the church, such as giving them access to the spirit, while also impacting on the notion of equality and ideas about the nature of gender. I conclude that in Pentecostalism gender is seen as an individual quality and that gender relations are viewed as power relations.
Abstract: This article offers an analysis of Pentecostal ritual life focused on a core tension in this religion, namely that between the egalitarianism associated with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all believers and the hierarchy that follows from the charismatic authority of church leaders. Drawing on ethnographic material from the Zambian Copperbelt, the author traces out the egalitarian and hierarchical aspects of Pentecostal ritual in order to demonstrate the importance of both of these elements to the social relationships that Pentecostal adherence produces. While the tension between egalitarianism and hierarchy is evident in all Pentecostal groups, on the Copperbelt their interaction produces social results which build on extant cultural models, and which have particular significance in the light of Zambia’s recent economic history. These local resonances in turn allow us to address discontinuity, a central topic in analyses of Pentecostalism, as well as the role of creativity in ritual practice.
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.”