Accepted Paper:

African Pentecostalism in Brussels: reconfiguration of gender relation and sexuality in diasporas  


Maïté Maskens (Université Libre de Bruxelles)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the reconfiguration of gender relation and sexuality in African pentecostal churches in Brussels. Local discourses about sexuality challenge European sexual liberation. I describe how worshippers fill the gap between ideals of sexual purity and the reality of everyday lives.

Paper long abstract:

This paper explores the complex link between Pentecostal membership and believers' sexual experience in some churches in Brussels. The ideal of society conveyed by Pentecostal religious groups is one of return to a life of sanctification rooted into an idealized past, that presumed of the first Christians. In this perspective, most contemporary expressions of sexuality are seen by the adepts as the result of the progressive moral decline of European societies. Local discourses emphasize the necessity to return to sexual practices characterized by their "purity" and rooted in the divine order. In this paper, I shall describe the normative devices that structure gender relationships and sexual practices in Pentecostal Churches. In particular, I will look at these situations of "liminality" within heterosexuality, such as divorce, mixed marriage, "fornication", abortion, homosexuality, infertility, infidelity, etc, and describe concrete experiences through which believers learn to use gender and sexual norms in the flow of their tumultuous lives.

Panel W029
African Christianities in Europe: the politics of religious recognition