Faith in African Lived Christianity

Bridging Anthropological and Theological Perspectives


Volume Editors: and
Faith in African Lived Christianity – Bridging Anthropological and Theological Perspectives offers a comprehensive, empirically rich and interdisciplinary approach to the study of faith in African Christianity. The book brings together anthropology and theology in the study of how faith and religious experiences shape the understanding of social life in Africa. The volume is a collection of chapters by prominent Africanist theologians, anthropologists and social scientists, who take people’s faith as their starting point and analyze it in a contextually sensitive way. It covers discussions of positionality in the study of African Christianity, interdisciplinary methods and approaches and a number of case studies on political, social and ecological aspects of African Christian spirituality.
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Karen Lauterbach, Ph.D. (2009), Roskilde University, is Associate Professor of African Studies at the University of Copenhagen, and a former postdoctoral researcher at the Centre of Theology and Religious Studies at Lund University.
Mika Vähäkangas Th.D. (1998), University of Helsinki, is Professor of Mission Studies and Ecumenics at Lund University, and a former lecturer of systematic theology of Makumira University College, Tanzania (1998-2005), and president of the International Association for Mission Studies (2012-2016).
"This is an important book that indicates a paradigm shift in the study of religion in Africa. It is the first serious attempt to bring anthropological and theological perspectives together in a single analytical framework. The book provides new methodological approaches and offers refreshingly new insights on much-debated issues, notably on contemporary forms of charismatic and Pentecostal Christianity. This is all done with due attention for historical contexts. African Christian spirituality, the book shows, is marked by an historical openness towards the spirit world that is perpetuated in the present. This is the case in Africa as well as among African Christians outside the African continent. [..] Several of the chapters have been contributed by young and upcoming scholars, representing a generational shift in the study of Christianity in Africa. This is a welcome development that will help bring about the much needed decolonization of the academic mind in the study of religion in Africa generally. This book is an exemplary case. [..] Faith in Lived Christianity in Africa is an innovative collection of essays that takes the academic debate to a different level. It should be read by all those engaging in the academic debate on Christianity in Africa." — Gerrie ter Haar, Em. Professor, International Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University
"For a long time, anthropological and theological approaches to the study of Christianity in Africa have existed alongside each other but with little dialogue and exchange. This important book demonstrates how enriching and stimulating it can be when the boundaries between these disciplines are explored and transgressed. The various contributions offer inter- and transdisciplinary interpretations of diverse forms of Christian faith and practice as lived religion in contemporary Africa, and they reflect critically on the methodological questions at stake." — Adriaan van Klinken, Associate Professor of Religion and African Studies, University of Leeds
 Foreword vii
 Notes on Contributors viii
 1 Faith in African Lived Christianity – Bridging Anthropological and Theological Perspectives: Introduction
Mika Vähäkangas and Karen Lauterbach

Part 1: Normativity and Positionality in Anthropology and Theology

 2 World Christianity and the Reorganization of Disciplines: On the Emerging Dialogue Between Anthropology and Theology
Joel Robbins
 3 From Objects to Subjects of Religious Studies in Africa: Methodological Agnosticism and Methodological Conversion
Frans Wijsen
 4 Liberationist Conversion and Ethnography in the Decolonial Moment: A Finnish Theologian/Ethicist Reflects in South Africa
Elina Hankela
 5 Re-thinking the Study of Religion: Lessons from Field Studies of Religions in Africa and the African Diaspora
Galia Sabar

Part 2: Methods and Approaches: From Anthropology to Theology and Back

 6 Fakery and Wealth in African Charismatic Christianity: Moving Beyond the Prosperity Gospel as Script
Karen Lauterbach
 7 How to Respect the Religious Quasi-Other? Methodological Considerations in Studying the Kimbanguist Doctrine of Incarnation
Mika Vähäkangas
 8 Pentecostal Praise and Worship as a Mode of Theology
Martina Prosén
 9 The Sounds of the Christians in Northern Nigeria: Notes on an Acoustic History of Bachama Christianity
Niels Kastfelt
 10 What Has Kinshasa to Do with Athens? Methodological Perspectives on Theology and Social Science in Search for a Political Theology
Elias Kifon Bongmba

Part 3: Theology in Lived Religion: Case Studies

 11 African Migrant Christianities – Delocalization or Relocalization of Identities?
Stian Sørlie Eriksen, Tomas Sundnes Drønen and Ingrid Løland
 12 Going to War: Spiritual Encounters and Pentecostals’ Drive for Exposure in Contemporary Zanzibar
Hans Olsson
 13 The Dramatization and Embodiment of God of the Wilderness
Isabel Mukonyora
 14 Breathing Pneumatology: Spirit, Wind, and Atmosphere in a Zulu Zionist Congregation
Rune Flikke
 15 Gendered Narratives of Illness and Healing: Experiences of Spirit Possession in a Charismatic Church Community in Tanzania
Lotta Gammelin
 16 Revealed Medicine – As an Expression of an African Christian Lived-Out Spirituality
Carl Sundberg
The readership of this book consists of graduate and postgraduate students in African studies, social/cultural anthropology, ethnography, World Christianity, mission studies, theology and religion as well as researchers and teachers in these fields.
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