Accepted Paper:

'We believed in God, we just didn't know who He was'; defining faith among Portuguese and Spanish Pentecostal Gypsies  
Ruy Blanes (University of Gothenburg)

Paper short abstract:

This paper discusses how Portuguese and Spanish Pentecostal Gypsies have promoted, since the 1960's, novel notions of self, morality and faith by recognising/redefining a new sense of 'Christianity'. I will look into local uses of the Bible, publishing/publicity dynamics and conversion discourses.

Paper long abstract:

The Gypsies in the Iberian Peninsula have, since their arrival to this region (five centuries ago), been often described as 1) black magic or sorcery practitioners; 2) incapable of being "truly" religious; or, in the best of chances, as 3) cheats, adopters of a "cynical" Christianity. In this period, the Portuguese and Spanish religious and governmental institutions have been the main instigators of this paradigm, promoting a conjoint notion of self, morality and faith. Over the last four decades, though, the widespread conversion of Portuguese and Spanish gypsies into Pentecostal Christianity (namely the "Filadelfia" movement) has promoted a redefinition of those concepts in a somewhat surprising manner. Drawing on published memories, "Filadelfia" conversion testimonies and fieldwork accounts, this paper intends to reveal how.

Panel W031
New perspectives on 'European' Christianity