2022. After rupture: Visions of history, African spirituality and theological repair in Nigerian Pentecostalism. The Australian Journal of Anthropology, 33, 383– 395.
How do Pentecostal Christians seek repair and renewal in their lives, after their efforts to rupture with the past and become born again? In this article, I wish to consider the ways that a group of Nigerian Pentecostals who belong to a deliverance church re-narrativise their lives by constructing and entering into new timelines of history after their attempts to break with the past. This discursive project works to insert a notion of ‘Black Africa’ into an authentically Christian historical chronology that stretches far back into the biblical past and forward to the eschaton. In this way, Africa’s unique spiritual character is seen as reflected not only in its reasserted claim to Christian history, but also in its eschatologically driven destiny to re-evangelise the world. This tells us something about the theological way these Christians reframe their role in history, including how their understanding of a collective past shapes their vision of who they are in the present and will be in the future. In this article, I argue that more attention needs to be given to processes of repair, repositioning and realignment in discussions about how conversion to Pentecostalism can generate efforts to break away from what becomes conceptualised as ‘the past’.
2022. Introduction: From rupture to repair (with Derrick Lemons). The Australian Journal of Anthropology, 33, 337– 348.
2021. Homosexuality, Created Bodies and Queer Fantasies in a Nigerian Deliverance Church Journal of Religion in Africa, Vol. 50 (2-3) (2021), 249-277.
In recent years the use of ‘gay cure’ therapies by religions has become a major public controversy in the West. Deliverance, or exorcism, is pointed to as an example of a Christian practice used to try and change a person’s sexuality. Pentecostal churches specialising in deliverance have become particularly popular on the African continent in the last few decades, where beliefs that homosexuality is immoral and un-African are also widespread. At the same time, public discourse about African attitudes to sexuality in the West tends to misunderstand the way religion contributes to cultures of heteronormativity in Africa. This article analyses how African deliverance churches view same-sex relations by investigating a large Nigerian deliverance church publicly accused of practising conversion therapies. It argues that the church’s views on homosexuality derive from its theological understanding of human creation, and that there is more scope for queer expression than first appears.
2021. Gavin Miller, Miracles of Healing: Psychotherapy and Religion in Twentieth Century Scotland (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2020, 175 pp.) Psychoanalysis and History, Vol. 23 (No. 1) (2021), 106-109.
2020. Machine gun prayer: The politics of embodied desire in Pentecostal worship Journal of Contemporary Religion, Vol. 35 (No. 3) (2020), 469-483.
This article examines Pentecostal embodiment through a study of the way prayer is spoken of and performed in a prominent Nigerian deliverance church. It argues that the deliverance churches’ exaggerated emphasis on the demonic serves to re-purpose prayer as an embodied violent performance that is often as much directed to the devil as it is to God. The paper argues for the ways in which the entanglement of divine and demonic beings in the Pentecostal body results in the production of a subject that does not just act upon itself, but in fact seeks to defeat and hence deliver itself. And, in offering a detailed account of how the movement’s theology of the body is made manifest in performances of prayer, the article argues for scholarly attention to the role that theological doctrines play in the constitution of embodied experience in the study of religions more generally.
2019. Entangled Genealogies and False Dichotomies: Anthropology, Theology and the Post-Secular Paradigm in World Christianity Journal of World Christianity, Vol. 9 (No.1) (2019), 61-74.
This article sheds light on some of the methodological challenges that currently face scholars in World Christianity by mapping out genealogically how ontology has come to be a concern for those pursuing social scientific approaches to the study of Christianity in particular. By unravelling some of the guiding theoretical principles of the study of religions more generally, the author reveals the conditions that have ultimately rendered the “problem of belief ” in fact a “problem” for (purportedly) secular explorations of Christian cultures. The author reflects upon the theoretical principles of an emerging group of anthropologists of Christianity who are seeking to address the problems raised by their secular orientations and cultivating what is fast becoming known as a “theologically engaged anthropology.” From there, the article suggests some useful theoretical approaches for those scholars working in World Christianity going forward.
2018. What Does it Feel Like to be Post-Secular? Ritual Expressions of Religious Affects in Contemporary Renewal Movements International Journal of Philosophy and Theology, Vol. 79 (No.3) (2018), 295-310.
This paper seeks to problematise and complexify scholarly accounts of contemporary emotional repression in western contexts by presenting counter-evidence in the form of two examples of post-secular collective affectivity and their ritual expressions. It argues that both narratives of emotional repression and expression fail to capture the non-linear complexity of processes of cultural transformation, which have resulted in the simultaneous expression and repression of ritualistic affects that are products of our evolutionary embodied history. Drawing on insights from affect theory, this paper seeks to illustrate how contingent yet nonetheless residual ritualistic affects have become repressed in the nominally secular public sphere in modernity. This has presented certain obstacles to the open communal display of religious ritual, and, as a corollary, the expression of certain religious affects, which have subsequently re-emerged in post-secular ritual spaces that are both publicly private and privately public, carved by contemporary renewal movements.
On Attentive Listening: A Conversation with Professor Tanya Luhrmann –Blogpost for the Hidden Persuaders website. 09/09/20.
Narratives of Apocalypse — Blogpost for the Hidden Persuaders website. 09/09/20.
A Faceless Crisis — Blogpost for the Hidden Persuaders website. 30/04/20.