The latest issue of the Journal of Religion in Africa (vol. 42, no. 3, 2012) includes my research article, ‘Men in the Remaking: Conversion Narratives and Born-Again Masculinity in Zambia’. Please find here the full text of the article.
The born-again discourse is a central characteristic of Pentecostal Christianity in Africa. In the study of African Christianities, this discourse and the way it (re)shapes people’s moral, religious, and social identities has received much attention. However, hardly any attention has been paid to its effects on men as gendered beings. In the study of men and masculinities in Africa, on the other hand, neither religion in general nor born-again Christianity in particular are taken into account as relevant factors in the construction of masculinities. On the basis of a detailed analysis of interviews with men who are members of a Pentecostal church in Lusaka, Zambia, in this article I investigate how men’s gender identities are reshaped by becoming and being born-again and how born-again conversion produces new forms of masculinity. Building on discussions in the anthropology of Christianity and the study of Pentecostalism in Africa, I critically examine how the Pentecostal ethos brings about a transformation of masculinity and I interpret this in relation to men’s social vulnerability, particularly in the context of the HIV epidemic in Zambia.
According to the JRA editor, Adeline Masquelier, the importance of this study is that unlike women, men as gendered beings have rarely attracted the attention of scholars of African Christianity despite growing evidence (from masculinity studies, for instance) that male identities, far from being stable, are perpetually in flux. The article, she points out, ‘suggests that one cannot discuss born-again Christianity among men without also examining the gendering of Pentecostal subjects, and more specifically the production of new expressions of masculinity.’
Thanks to a grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) the article is published under the Open Access policy of Brill, the publisher of the journal. This means that everyone has the unlimited right of unpaid access to the full text of the article and has the unlimited right to copy, paste, download or otherwise use the article as long as these uses are restricted to non-commercial use only and provided that due acknowledgement is made to the original author and the original publication in the journal.