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Esther Naemi Rebekka Berg, M.A.


Esther Naemi Rebekka Berg, M.A.


  • Ph.D. Candidate
  • JRG B21 "Transcultural Dynamics of Pentecostalism"

Contact information

Esther Berg, M. A.
Institut für Weltkirche und Mission
Offenbacher Landstraße 224
60599 Frankfurt am Main
Raum: L 105 (Lindenbau)


+49 69 6061-712
+49 69 6061-777

About Esther Naemi Rebekka Berg

Ph.D. candidate | Part of the Junior Research Group (JRG) Transcultural Dynamics of Pentecostalism: Pentecostal Christianity between Globalisation and Localised Spheres in Singapore and the Straits.

PhD project

"Lived Religiosity in Modern Times: A religious studies perspective on a contemporary neo-charismatic megachurch in Singapore" (working title)

In my dissertation, I investigated the lived religiosity among small group members within a neocharismatic cell megachurch in Singapore. Such cell churches (mega and otherwise) are organized as networks of small groups which constitute central sites for the performance and experience of lived religiosity within the church. Over the late 20th century, cell churches have become a salient feature of the contemporay Christian landscape in Asia and the global city of Singapore in particular.

Based on several months of field research in and around the megachurch, this dissertation pursued two objectives: (1) On a descriptive level, it sought to provide a nuanced account of lived religiosity in a contemporary neocharismatic megachurch in Singapore. (2) On an analytical level it sought to answer the question of how said religious discourses and practices are shaped by (and in turn also shape) a “modern condition” in general and the modern condition of contemporary Singaporean society in particular. Both the global city of Singapore and the institution of the megachurch are in this dissertation considered as particular “materializations” of modernity and thus ideal heuristic spaces to explore the relationship between religious practices and discourses on the one hand and what could be conceptualized as the contemporary condition of “global modernity” on the other hand.

Since Asian Christianities in general and megachurches in Asia in particular as well as contemporary Christian small group practices within such megachurches are so far underrepresented in current research, this dissertation seeks to contribute to a more nuanced understanding of these contemporary religious phenomena.

Fields of interest:

  • Anthropology of Christianities
  • Global Pentecostalism
  • Pentecostal and charismatic megachurches
  • The field of "religion" and "therapeutic culture"
  • The field of Martial Arts, media and "Material Religion" 
  • Martial Arts Studies


Curriculum vitae

05/2014 - 07/2014

Visiting scholar at the National University of Singapore's Asia Research Institute (ARI)


Religious Studies (Major)/ Transcultual Studies (Minor), Master of Arts at Heidelberg University


Religious Studies (Major)/ East Asian Studies (Minor), Bachelor of Arts at Heidelberg University

09/2009 - 03/2010

Term abroad at the Chinese Culture University, Taipei, Taiwan, funded through a scholarship of the Institute for Chinese Studies, Heidelberg, Germany 

09/2009 - 03/2013

Scholarship holder of the German National Merit Foundation 

Selected publications

"Evangelikalismus in Asien", in: Handbuch Evangelikalismus. Lokal und Global in Geschichte und Gegenwart, edited by Frederik Elwert, Martin Radermacher and Jens Schlamelcher, Bielefeld: Transcript (forthcoming).

With Katja Rakow: "Religious Studies", in: The Transcultural Approach. Disciplinary Perspectives, edited by Daniel König and Katja Rakow (forthcoming). 

"'Martial Arts,' Medien und Materiale Religion: Kampfkunst als Gegenstand religionswissenschaftlicher Forschung", in: Begleitband zur Ausstellung "Religion in Ex-Position" edited by Carina Brankovic and Simone Heidbrink, 2015, online available under: http://journals.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/index.php/unimuseum/ .

With Inken Prohl: "'Become your Best': On the Construction of Martial Arts as Means of Self-Actualization and Self-Improvement", JOMEC Journal, 'Martial Arts Studies', issue 5, May 2014, online available under http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/jomec/jomecjournal/5-june2014/Berg_Prohl.pdf.

"China und die Religion(en): Die Rückkehr der Götter und die Vielfalt Chinas.", Entwurf, 'Religionen in China,' 2/2014, Seelze: Friedrich Verlag, pp. 4-10.

Review: Martin Petzke, Weltbekehrungen. Zur Konstruktion globaler Religion im pfingstlich-evangelikalen Christentum. Bielefeld: transcript Verlag, May 2014, online under: http://www.glopent.net/iak-pfingstbewegung/Members/webmaster/rezensionen/petzke-2013/view.

"Valuing the Many Voices Within the Martial Arts: Lessons from the Field of Religious Studies", Kung Fu Tea, 27 February 2014, online available under: http://chinesemartialstudies.com/2014/02/27/valuing-the-many-voices-within-the-martial-arts-lessons-from-the-field-of-religious-studies/ 

Reviews of "Valuing the Many Voices":

T. W. Smith: "Self Discovery: Becoming Your Best: KFP 004. Chinese Martial Arts Blends with Self Development", Kung Fu Podcasts, 15 August 2014, online available under: http://www.kungfupodcasts.com/archives/self-discovery-becoming-your-best-kfp-004.html.

Ben Judkins: "From Battle Magic to Self-Actualization: Understanding the Traditional Chinese Martial Arts", Kung Fu Tea, 27 June 2014, online availabe under: http://chinesemartialstudies.com/2014/06/27/from-battle-magic-to-self-actualization-understanding-the-traditional-chinese-martial-arts/

Selected presentations

"'Model Citizens for the Glory of God' - Engaging Singaporean Society," XXI. IAHR World Congress, Erfurt (24/8/2015).

"Evolve! - Martial Arts, YouTube and the Therapeutic Culture", Workshop & Lecture "Martial Arts & Media Culture", Köln (17/7/2015).

"Connecting to God and to His People: Christian Small Groups as 'Sensational Forms' (title changed), The 9th International Convention of Asia Scholars, Adelaide, Australia (8/7/2015).

"Transcultural Dynamics of Contemporary Christian Small Group Practice", 8th GloPent Conference "Pentecostalism and Development," SOAS, London (5/9/2014).

"Migrating Martial Arts: On the Transcultural Construction of Martial Arts as Means of Self-actualization and Self-improvement", "The Meaning of Migration: A JOMEC Journal One-Day Conference," Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, Cardiff (17/4/2014).

"From House Church to Cell Group: Transformation of Christian Small Group Practice," Interdisciplinary Workshop "Studying Pentecostalism in a Transcultural Perspective," organized by the JRG B21 "Transcultural Dynamics of Pentecostalism" at the Cluster "Asia and Europe in a Global Context," Heidelberg (4/4/2014).

"Von Bodhidharma zu Bruce Lee – Die Konstruktion und Herkunft von Martial Arts als Praktiken der Selbstverwirklichung und –optimierung" (poster presentation), International Symposium „Somatisierung des Religiösen – Religionswissenschaftliche und -soziologische Perspektiven auf den rezenten religiösen Heilungs- und Therapiemarkt“, Universität Bremen. Institut für Religionswissenschaft und Religionspädagogik, Hannover (24/10/2013).

"Medien, Martial Arts und Materiale Religion," DVRW Tagung "Empirie und Theorie – Religionswissenschaft zwischen Gegenstandsorientierung und systematischer Reflexion," Göttingen (13/9/2013).