‘A Church in a Cinema Hall?’ Pentecostal Appropriation of Public Space in Nigeria

In: Journal of Religion in Africa
Olufunke Adeboye Department of History & Strategic Studies, University of Lagos Akoka, Yaba, Lagos, Nigeria

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Over the past two decades Nigeria has become a hotbed of Pentecostal activity. It is the view of this study that Pentecostal visibility in Nigeria has been enhanced not just by Pentecostals’ aggressive utilization of media technology for proselytization as claimed by previous scholars, but also by their appropriation of public spaces for worship. This study not only focuses on the church in the cinema hall, but also on churches in nightclubs, hotels, and other such places previously demonized as ‘abode[s] of sin’ by classical Pentecostals. This paper argues that users’ perception of public spaces having rigid meanings and unchanging usage was responsible for much of the tensions experienced. It would be more useful for academic analysts and various ‘publics’ to construe such spaces as dynamic sites, at once reflecting mutations in the public sphere, responsive to local and global socio-economic processes, and amenable to periodic reinventions and negotiations.

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