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Workshop | Keynotes | Preparatory Readings



November 7 - 9, 2014


Karl Jaspers Centre for Advanced Transcultural Studies

Cluster of Excellence Asia and Europe in a Global Context at Heidelberg University

Room 212

Friday Nov. 7, 2014, 4.45 to 6.15 pm Keynote Lecture 1

“Of Gates and Globes: Connections and Disconnections in Studying Swedish and Nigerian Pentecostalism”

Prof. Simon Coleman (University of Toronto, Canada)

Abstract: Much contemporary research on the burgeoning forms of neo-Pentecostalism around the world takes one of two basic approaches: 1) examining how Pentecostals do or do not adapt to local conditions as they grow in numbers, resulting in forms of cultural ‘rupture’ or ‘continuity’; or 2) tracing how denominations spread across the globe, forming the equivalent of transnational religious corporations. In both research strategies, the key relationship to be investigated is generally perceived to be that between believer and non-believer, Pentecostal and non-Pentecostal. In this paper, I examine a possible third approach, drawing on my research among Christians in Sweden, Nigeria and the Nigerian diaspora in London. I am interested in how different Pentecostals view, and do or do not relate to, each other. Members of the Word of Life Ministry in Sweden and of the Nigerian Redeemed Christian Church of God both support versions of the Prosperity Gospel, and their leaders visit some of the same conferences. But how do such Pentecostals relate not only to ‘local cultures’, but also to each other? Might their relationships reveal significant forms of distance? And, if so, might such distance be valued rather than viewed as problematic by believers? In this paper, I draw on metaphors of gates and globes to investigate connections and disconnections in the wider landscape of Prosperity activities and imaginaries within and beyond denominational affiliations.

Friday Nov. 7, 2014, 6.45 to 8.15 pm Keynote Lecture 2

“Immersive Christianity: On Religion, Entertainment, and Globalization”

Dr. James S. Bielo (University of Miami, OH, USA)

Abstract: In the state of Kentucky in the United States, a creationist ministry nears completion of Ark Encounter: a biblical theme park featuring a full-scale re-creation of Noah’s Ark. In Sao Paulo, Brazil, a neo-Pentecostal megachurch has engineered a replica of Solomon’s Temple. In Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tierra Santa recreates the first century streets of Jerusalem and the final days of Jesus. In Israel, Nazareth Village performs a living history experience of Jesus’ early years in rural farms and fields. What is at stake in this global pattern of materializing biblical history? Drawing on fieldwork with the makers of Ark Encounter, this presentation will explore issues of religious publicity, modern entertainment as a transnational flow, and the methodological dynamics of doing ethnography with Christian cultural producers.


Workshop Programme

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