Spirit on the Move

Black Women and Pentecostalism in Africa and the Diaspora

Spirit on the Move

Religious Cultures of African and African Diaspora People

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Book Pages: 248 Illustrations: Published: April 2019

African American Studies and Black Diaspora, Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies, Religious Studies

Pentecostalism is currently the fastest-growing Christian movement, with hundreds of millions of followers. This growth overwhelmingly takes place outside of the West, and women make up 75 percent of the membership. The contributors to Spirit on the Move examine Pentecostalism's appeal to black women worldwide and the ways it provides them with a source of community and access to power. Exploring a range of topics, from Neo-Pentecostal churches in Ghana that help women challenge gender norms to evangelical gospel musicians in Brazil, the contributors show how Pentecostalism helps black women draw attention to and seek remediation from the violence and injustices brought on by civil war, capitalist exploitation, racism, and the failures of the state. In fleshing out the experiences, theologies, and innovations of black women Pentecostals, the contributors show how Pentecostal belief and its various practices reflect the movement's complexity, reach, and adaptability to specific cultural and political formations.

Contributors. Paula Aymer, John Burdick, Judith Casselberry, Deidre Helen Crumbley, Elizabeth McAlister, Laura Premack, Elizabeth A. Pritchard, Jane Soothill, Linda van de Kamp


“The editors and contributors of Spirit on the Move have successfully attended to this task without fear of troubling the waters of tidy conclusions in favor or against Black women’s relation to Pentecostalism. Scholars and Pentecostal practitioners can listen to and be taught by the global women portrayed in the pages of this book.”

— Allison Kach, Sociology of Religion

“Should be widely read by the African Studies community and particularly within the (re-emerging!) field of African Christianity.” — Adam Mohr, African Studies Review

“In light of its scope and the exigency of its foci, Spirit on the Move is best suited for religious studies scholars and upper level/graduate students. Even individuals, whose research agendas may not coincide with the text’s concerns directly, will greatly benefit from this consciousness raising and sensitizing work.” — Benjamin D. Crace, Nova Religio

"Given that women make up three quarters of the hundreds of millions of people who identify as Pentecostal, it is time for serious study of this growing religious sector. This volume offers a running start with essays that focus on Brasil, Ghana, Haiti, Nigeria, Mozambique, and elsewhere. Experiences vary widely across these enculturated groups, but women are shaping the movement much earlier in its history than in other Christian denominations. These essays alert scholars and interested readers about some trends and groups to watch." — WATER

“This groundbreaking collection of essays offers readers a much-needed and richly nuanced look into the lives and communities of the women behind one of the fastest-growing religious movements in the world. It is a must-read for scholars of religion and those more broadly interested in the social impact of Pentecostal faith.” — Marla Frederick, author of Colored Television: American Religion Gone Global

Spirit on the Move proceeds at the intersection of Pentecostal and black feminist studies with important philosophical debate bearing on religious experience in a global world. It argues that Pentecostalism’s appeal to black women worldwide consists in its being the medium through which they engage forms of power at once intimate and embodied and embedded in nation-states and their interrelations. The focus is firmly on the ability of these Pentecostalists to become ‘masters of the meanings’ and thereby to move beyond diasporic lives that are merely liminal or nostalgic. The individual chapters augment the argument and provide new insights into modern subjectivities honed by struggle and informed by spirit. Quite simply one of the most insightful treatments I have read.” — Diane J. Austin-Broos, author of Jamaica Genesis: Religion and the Politics of Moral Orders


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Judith Casselberry is Associate Professor of Africana Studies at Bowdoin College and author of The Labor of Faith: Gender and Power in Black Apostolic Pentecostalism, also published by Duke University Press.

Elizabeth A. Pritchard is Associate Professor of Religion at Bowdoin College and author of Religion in Public: Locke's Political Theology.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  ix
Introduction / Elizabeth A. Pritchard  1
Part I. Saving Race
1. Voices of God: Blackness and Gender in a Brazilian Black Gospel Music Scene / John Burdick  27
2. Race, Gender, and Christian Diaspora: New Pentecostal Intersectionalities and Haiti / Elizabeth McAlister  44
Part II. Scrutinizing and Sanctifying the Body
3. Women and the Afro-Brazilian Pentecostal War in Mozambique / Linda van de Kamp  67
4. "Dressed as Becometh Holiness": Gender, Race, and the Body in a Storefront Sanctified Church / Deidre Helen Crumbley  89
Part III. Sonic Power
5. West African and Caribbean Women Evangelists: The Wailing Women Worldwide Intercessors / Paula Aymer  109
6. "The Kingdom in the Midst": Sounding Bodies, Aesthetic Labor, and the End Times / Judith Casselberry  128
Part IV. Modeling the State
7. A Critical Approach to Concepts of "Power" and "Agency" in Ghana's Charismatic (or Neo-Pentecostal) Churches / Jane Soothill  151
8. Bless Us with Children: Pregnancy, Prosperity, and Pragmatism in Nigeria's Christ Apostolic Church / Laura Premack  180
References  197
Contributors  221
Index  225
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0032-7 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0013-6
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