Fer, “Youth with a Mission in the Pacific Islands”

Fer, Yannick. 2016. “Youth With a Mission in the Pacific Islands: From Evangelical globalization to the reshaping of local cultural identities.” in F. Magowan et C. Schwartz (eds.), 2016, Christianity, Conflict, and Renewal in Australia and the Pacific, Leiden/Boston, Brill, pp. 81-101.

Abstract: The rise of Pentecostal-charismatic movements in Polynesia today is opening up new spaces for converts to engage in the contemporary dynamics of globalization, encouraging them to question the intertwined links between religion, culture, and the land, as shaped by local Christian cultures. A complex articulation of converts’ voluntary disaffiliation from traditional religion and their critical reappropriation of Christianity create dilemmas of identity, as Polynesian “Christian tradition” finds no unanimous response within the Pentecostal-charismatic field. Indeed, in recent decades, these movements have led to a double diversification, brought about on the one hand, by the growth of The Christianity of the South and, on the other hand, by the increasing separation of charismatic streams from classical Pentecostal theology.

The charismatic network Youth with a Mission (YWAM), which has been present in Oceania for forty years, exemplifies this global transformation of the Pentecostal-charismatic field and its local impact upon reshaping the identity of Pacific Islander youth. After situating this network within contemporary Pacific Island Protestantism and the post-World War ii American context, this chapter examines the patterns of YWAM global culture, including its positive representation of cultural diversity. I show how these trends generated a militant reappropriation and renewal of cultural identities within the Christian space among young Polynesian converts at the outset of the 1980s. In particular, the Island Breeze movement, a YWAM ministry launched in 1979 by the Samoan Sosene Le’au, claims to seek the “redemption of cultures” and advocates the use of Polynesian dances as both an expression of Christian faith and a universal missionary tool. Finally, an analysis of the links between the YWAM global charismatic culture and this local religious renewing and reshaping of Polynesian cultural identities illuminates several points of adjustment or tension: between individual “new birth”, regional migrations and cultural authenticity; and between historical relationships of domination and the emergence of a “Christian indigeneity influenced by the global theology of “spiritual warfare”.

Fer and Malogne-Fer, “Femmes et Pentecotismes”

Fer, Yannick and Gwendoline Malogne-Fer (eds). 2015. Femmes et Pentecotismes: Enjeux d’autorite et rapports de genre. Geneve: Labor et Fides.

Abstract: Pentecostalism is a charismatic and conservative movement which began in the USA at the outset of the 20th century and has widely spread throughout the world thanks to migration, urbanisation and the establishment of transnational denominations. Pentecostalism presents an intriguing paradox: on one hand, it recognises women’s specific ability to relate to God : on the other hand, women are often denied access to positions of authority within these churches. The authors of this volume examine the situation of women in various Pentecostal churches, and how Pentecostalism shapes gender relationships. They look at the personal paths of women prophets, evangelists, pastors or pastors’ wives and at « women’s fellowships » to understand why the gendered distribution of responsibilities remains mostly in favour of men. Drawing on meticulous fieldwork research including a remarkable set of Pentecostal churches and movements, this volume throws light on the relations between charismatic experience, moral conservatism and the situation of women in a major component of contemporary worldwide Christianity.

Né aux Etats-Unis au début du 20ème siècle, le pentecôtisme est un mouvement charismatique et conservateur qui s’est largement diffusé depuis lors sur tous les continents, à la faveur des migrations, de l’urbanisation et de la structuration d’Eglises transnationales. Le mouvement pentecôtiste est marqué par un paradoxe fort intriguant : d’un côté, on reconnaît aux femmes une capacité particulière et remarquable à entrer en relation avec Dieu ; de l’autre, on leur refuse le plus souvent l’accès aux postes de pouvoir au sein des églises. Les auteurs analysent ainsi la place des femmes dans ces différentes églises et la manière dont le pentecôtisme façonne les rapports de genre. Ils s’intéressent aux parcours de femmes prophétesses, évangélistes, pasteures ou épouses de pasteurs et aux « mouvements de femmes » et tentent de comprendre pourquoi l’organisation et la répartition sexuée des responsabilités sont généralement plus favorables aux hommes. A partir d’enquêtes minutieuses portant sur un ensemble inédit d’églises et de mouvements pentecôtistes, les auteurs éclairent les relations entre expériences charismatiques, conservatisme moral et conditions des femmes au sein d’un des courants majeurs du christianisme mondial.

Fer, “Politics of Tradition”

Fer, Yannick. 2015. “Politics of Tradition: Charismatic Globalization, Morality, and Culture in Polynesian Protestantism.” In The Anthropology of Global Pentecostalism and Evangelicalism. Simon Coleman and Rosalind I.J. Hackett, eds. 228-242. New York: NYU Press.