New article on gender equality in African Pentecostalism

The latest issue of the journal Religion and Gender is a special issue on postcolonialism, gender and religion. I have co-edited this volume together with Dr Sian Hawthorne from SOAS, University of London. The volume includes a selection of the papers that were presented at the workshop we organised at SOAS in December 2013, on the theme Catachreses? ‘Gender’, ‘Religion’, and ‘Postcoloniality’. This workshop was one in a series of three, organised as part of a project of which I am part, Interdisciplinary Innovations in the Study of Religion and Gender: Postcolonial, Post-secular and Queer Perspectives, hosted by Utrecht University and funded by the Netherlands Organisation of Scientific Research.

The special issue includes a paper in which I analyse and reflect upon gender politics in African Pentecostalism from a postcolonial perspective. The article is based on a case study of the sermons of Bishop Joshua Banda of Northmead Assembly of God Church, Lusaka, Zambia.

God’s World Is Not an Animal Farm – Or Is It? The Catachrestic Translation of Gender Equality in African Pentecostalism

Building on scholarly debates on Pentecostalism, gender and modernity in Africa, this article engages a postcolonial perspective to explore and discuss the ambivalent, even paradoxical nature of African Pentecostal gender discourse. It analyses the conceptualization of gender equality, in particular the attempt to reconcile the notions of ‘male–female equality’ and ‘male headship’, in a sermon series delivered by a prominent Zambian Pentecostal pastor, and argues that the appropriation and interruption of Western notions of gender equality in these sermons can be interpreted, in the words of Homi Bhabha, as a catachrestic postcolonial translation of modernity. Hence, the article critically discusses the Western ethnocentrism in some scholarly debates on gender and Pentecostalism in Africa, and points to some of the fundamental questions that Pentecostalism and its ambivalent gender discourse pose to gender-critical scholarship in the study of religion.

Religion and Gender vol. 3, no. 2 (2013), 240-258. For the full text link to article, click here.

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