Transforming Futures? Being Pentecostal in Kampala, Uganda

Bremner, Sophie (2013) Transforming Futures? Being Pentecostal in Kampala, Uganda. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Abstract

Pentecostal Christianity has gained many followers in the developing world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Despite a corpus of anthropological scholarship on the impact of following Pentecostalism on identities and social change, less has been written from the perspective of the believer, and little from within the field of development studies.
In this thesis, which is based on 14months of research in Kampala, Uganda, I explore how followers of this religion appropriate a discourse of prosperity and blessings, and how they utilise certain religious practices and relationships that are forged from the Pentecostal community in their efforts to mediate their futures and ‘move on up’ from a state of poverty. In particular, I discuss whether these practices and relationships can be seen as engendering transformative agency for these individuals. In doing so, I explore three themes that were prevalent in my data analysis: an everyday non-ecstatic speech act which is called ‘positive confessions’, ways of understanding poverty and dealing with situations of injustice, and patronage relationships between more wealthy and poorer members of the Pentecostal community.
I suggest that despite readily apparent displays of agency, in effect these religious practices and relationships do little to enable positive transformations in the lives of these believers, and instead, might actually uphold existing issues of disenfranchisement, through an emphasis on the individual as a force for change, a reorientation in ideas of time, and a prohibition of doubt and questioning. In addition, a more limited exploration of a group of non-Pentecostals sheds light on the potential for Pentecostal Christianity to be influential on the wider religious milieu than may have originally be thought, and hints at the need for a re-fashioning of our research methods when understanding the lives of those who are ‘Pentecostal’, in Uganda at least.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of International Development
Depositing User: Mia Reeves
Date Deposited: 02 May 2013 11:26
Last Modified: 02 May 2013 11:26
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/42348
DOI:

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