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Between Submission and Subversion: A Critical Exploration of the Divine Healing Practices of African Pentecostals in Europe

Between Submission and Subversion: A Critical Exploration of the Divine Healing Practices of African Pentecostals in Europe

by Dr. Abel Ugba (University of Leeds, UK)

Thu, April 29, 12-14, Zoom Link (RS Moralities)


Abstract

In this presentation, I contextualise and critically assess the practice of divine healing by African Pentecostals in Europe, based on empirical data generated from my research on two churches in London. I focus mainly on the challenges and innovations involved in practising divine healing in an immigration context where religion, especially immigrant-led minority religions, is portrayed unfavourably in the mainstream media and the freedom of religion is circumscribed by a critical (and even derisive attitude) by the majority towards faith and public religiosity. I argue that Pentecostal Africans have adopted innovative means to actualise divine healing in ways that simultaneously conform with and subvert the dictates of secularism. They are exercising agency that has enabled them to actualise an important tenet of their faith, but in ways that deviate from the orthodoxies of Pentecostal healing practices. My arguments in this presentation infuse nuances into extant analyses of the everyday religious experiences of African transnational migrants and highlight important moral and ethical themes not only about the socio-religious cosmos of Europe’s African Pentecostals but also about the motives and methods of researchers who seek to understand and explain the religiously-constituted ‘parallel’ universe of these migrants.


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