Accepted Paper:

Embodying the Holy Ghost: incorporation and time within a Nigerian Pentecostal church in the Netherlands  


Kim Knibbe (Groningen University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper focuses on a Nigerian Pentecostal church that has a strong transnational strategy and wishes to 'reclaim' Europe for Christianity, the Redeemed Christian church of God. They are active in many Northern European countries, the Netherlands among them. One of the issues they confront in their attempts to mobilize 'the native Dutch' have to do with differences in embodiment as expressed in style of worship, fasting practices and simply 'being there'.

Paper long abstract:

Pentecostal Christianity has a distinct focus on bodily mediated experiences. In African Pentecostal Christianity, bodily practices have a central place: fasting, abstaining from alcohol and cigarettes, enthousiastic style of worshipping and an insistence on speaking in tongues. Moreover, the church central to this paper has a strong emphasis on church-planting, mobilizing their members immediately to spend a lot of time and money on expanding the church, expecting them to participate in all night prayer services and travel to gatherings in London and Nigeria. By mobilizing their members and their resources, the Redeemed Christian Church of God has managed to sustain a long period of intense growth since the early eighties, and has parishes all over the world. In the Netherlands, they have grown from one parish to 19 parishes in about 10 years. However, to the Dutch Pentecostals who participate in this church, this is felt as an unacceptable form of incorporation and even bodily force that goes against the spontaneity and freedom they are looking for in Pentecostalism. The church leadership is aware of these differences, and tries to find ways to deal with them but in the process comes up against barely articulated and ingrained bodily habits that are resistant to change or even hybridity. This paper will explore these issues based on ongoing research.

Panel W011
Body and soul: on corporeality in contemporary religiosity