The Gender and Pentecostalism project takes as its point of departure the paradox that Pentecostal movements often have an egalitarian form (for instance in the sense that salvation is for everyone)on the one hand, but often reproduce gendered inequalities on the other (for instance that men often are pastors). We investigate the background for this paradox through studies in different localities; in Angola, in Papua New Guinea and in Vanuatu. We look at this question from different angles: vi look at the way women and men takes up different positions and roles in the churches but we also look at the way femininity and masculinity are produced as symbolic systems that reflect fundamental gendered values. In the first period of the project researchers did fieldwork in all three locations and arranged workshops on these topics. We have published a special issue of a journal (the Australian Journal of Anthropology) called "Gender and Christianity-towards a unified analysis". In this publication, we, along with invited internationals scholars, discuss the way in which gender as an analytical perspective can give us new insights into how and why the Pentecostal movements grow so fast in the global south. We have found that in Melanesia (Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu) focus and control of the body (clothing, movements etc) is becoming crucial to a new, and morally approved, form of femininity.
Furthermore, we are also focusing on how cultural change takes place in the aftermath of mass conversion to Pentecostal movements. We have worked on a hypothesis that takes as a point of departure the way in which Pentecostal movements seem to create homogeneity in plural settings. It seems like Pentecostal movements "thrives" in complex and diversified social settings by creating a fundamental "unity" at the level of values. This is, in particular, tied to the way in which femininity and masculinity are being formed.
In 2014 we have had an increased focus on theory development for comparative studies in anthropology. We are presently working on a book manuscript, co-authored by the three researchers in the project,where we discuss challenges connected to comparability, with special attention to the case of Africa compared to Melanesia. We have also had a workshop where internationally recognized researchers have commented on the manuscripts. Our main conclusion is that in these kinds of studies, we need to scale down the significance of regional history and social context, and look at the topic in discussion , in this case Pentecostalism, in itself, as if it was detached from the wider context. In 2015 the project leader, Annelin Eriksen, has published a paper in Religion and Society (Berghahn journal) arguing for a reconsideration of what has been known in the literature for some time as the ?Pentecostal gender Paradox? , and which was the very point of departure for this Project. In this paper some of the research results from this project has been outlined. The most important argument made here is that the paradox only emerges if gender is understood in an individualized sense. The Paradox emerges because gender are understood as a matter of what individual men and women do , for instance whether or not a woman can preach or a man can heal, be a prophet etc. In contexts outside of the Church however, in Family and kinship relations, gender is understood as a the way in which things are done, not who are doing them. Thus , the paradox only emerge if the category of gender is kept stable across contexts in which it is not.
In 2016/17 the project leader has worked on a paper that will sum up the project, with a particular focus on theory development for the method of anthropological comparison. This paper has been accepted with minor changes for the Journal of the Royal Anthropological institute.
The project team has also had a worked on a publication (Palgrave) for an edited collection on the relationship between Pentecostalism and Witchcraft, with an emphasis on the gendered dimension of this relationship.
The project group has also co-authored a book manuscript outlining new comparative methodologies for anthropological analyses of global movements (in particular global religious movements
Pentecostal Christianity is among the fastest growing religions. Within anthropology, Pentecostal Christianity has been studied first and foremost in its relation to economy, to modernity and to globalization. In 2004 Meyer pointed out that ?though the is sue of gender appears to be pertinent, little research has been conducted in this regard (2004:460). The last couple of years a few more studies have emerged where the focus on gender seem to be highlighted (for instance Mate 2002, Pfeiffer, Gimbel-Scher r and Augosto 2007) but these studies focus mainly on the sociological dimension of Pentecostal Christianity and its effect on gender in relation to larger issues of social and economic change.
I thus suggest a project where the analysis of gender relati ons within Pentecostal Christianity is the main focus. I want to do a study of social roles and positions (what men and women do in the churches) but expand this sociological focus and include a more symbolically oriented study of gender constructions (wh at femininity and masculinity is) within this form of Christianity.The comparative framework for this study is similarities and differences in gender practices and conceptions in Pentecostal churches in Melanesia and in Africa . Through this comparative s tudy we (myself and the team recruited) will produce at least three results: Firstly, an analytical model for understanding gender within Pentecostal churches. Secondly, we will produce an analytical model for a "global-local" encounter and thirdly ethnog raphically detailed studies of the same empirical phenomena (Pentecostal practices) in three different ethnographic regions.