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Researchers present their work at SOAS

Sep 18, 2014

Dr. Katja Rakow and Esther Berg from Junior Research Group "Pentecostalism" presented their research at the 8th conference of the European Research Network on Global Pentecostalism (GloPent) at SOAS, University of London. The conference was convened under the theme of “Pentecostalism and Development” on the 5th and 6th September 2014.

Given the rise of Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity, especially in the so-called “developing world”, the conference addressed a highly relevant theme. The conference program raised a number of specific issues, such as the role of Pentecostalism in shaping the economic outlook of its members, possibilities and limitations in collaborating with Pentecostal development agents, or the impact of Pentecostalism teaching and practices on social mobility, sexual ethics, or health care.

The conference was accompanied by three keynotes delivered by Matthew Clarke, head of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Deakin University Australia, Tomas Sundnes Drønen from the School of Mission and Theology in Stavanger, Norway and Dena Freeman, Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics. All three explored the issue of Pentecostalism and Development from their respective different disciplinary angles of Development Studies, Religious Studies and Anthropology.

In addition to the keynotes, more than 90 delegates from all six continents delivered their specific research on the conference theme as well as their latest projects. Katja Rakow and Esther Berg contributed with their latest research findings on Christianity in Singapore.

In her talk on "Negotiating the Boundaries of Religious, Public and Commercial Spheres: Neo-Pentecostal Megachurches in Singapore," Katja Rakow explored how since the last decade Neo-Pentecostal megachurches have built large, multifunctional spaces used for both commercial and religious purposes as they carefully negotiate the state-imposed boundaries on religions Singapore’s public space. Esther Berg addressed the global dissemination and local transformations of the so called Christian ‘small group movement’ drawing on her fieldwork among Christian small groups in a charismatic megachurch in Singapore in her talk titled "Transcultural Dynamics of Contemporary Christian Small Group Practice." 

The keynotes and further publications from the conference will be published in a special edition of "PentecoStudies", an interdisciplinary journal for research on the Pentecostal and charismatic movements, since 2006 under the auspices of GloPent.

Katja Rakow leads the Junior Research Group ‘Transcultural Dynamics of Pentecostalism’ at the Cluster. Esther Berg is also part of the same Junior Research Group and currently writing her PhD on Christian small group practices in contemporary megachurches in Singapore under the supervision of Katja Rakow. The conference was organized by Jörg Haustein, Lecturer in Religions in Africa at SOAS and hosted by the Centre of World Christianity at SOAS. It has been the 8th conference on the study of Pentecostal Christianity initiated by GloPent.


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