Egalitarianism and Hierarchy in Copperbelt Religious Practice: On the Social Work of Pentecostal Ritual

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Abstract

This article offers an analysis of Pentecostal ritual life focused on a core tension in this religion, namely that between the egalitarianism associated with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all believers and the hierarchy that follows from the charismatic authority of church leaders. Drawing on ethnographic material from the Zambian Copperbelt, I trace out the egalitarian and hierarchical aspects of Pentecostal ritual in order to demonstrate the importance of both of these elements to the social relationships that Pentecostal adherence produces. While the tension between egalitarianism and hierarchy is evident in all Pentecostal groups, on the Copperbelt their interaction produces social results that build on extant cultural models, and that have particular significance in the light of Zambia’s recent economic history. These local resonances in turn allow us to address discontinuity, a central topic in analyses of Pentecostalism, as well as the role of creativity in ritual practice.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalReligion
Early online date14 Jan 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Keywords

  • Pentecostalism
  • ritual
  • hierarchy
  • egalitarianism
  • sociality
  • Zambia

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