The church in the village, the village in the church: Pentecostalism in Teso, Uganda

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Drawing on a case study of a Pentecostal church in the Teso region of eastern Uganda, the article illustrates a type of empirical analysis which places churches alongside customary and government institutions. The article focuses on the way villagers who attend the Pentecostal church continue to participate in other local-level institutions, drawing upon their membership in a “born again” church to strengthen political claims. Much of the literature on Pentecostalism in Africa discusses the role of churches in urban areas, taking the exclusionary doctrine of Pentecostal Christianity as indicative of the ways in which “born again” Christians approach politics. The examples presented in this article show Pentecostalism taking a different form, where church members continue to engage in local-level institutions such as burial societies, the village council and clan committees. Through mundane, everyday political activities, such as building up a career or managing a land dispute, Pentecostal Christians utilise their membership in church alongside their participation in other local-level institutions. The fieldwork is taken from a poor, rural area coping with a history of economic collapse and political violence. In this constrained environment Pentecostal churches provide one more place where villagers piece together political actions that promise the possibility of economic and physical security.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)497-517
Number of pages21
JournalCahiers d'Études africaines
Issue number178
Publication statusPublished - 2005

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