Pentecostalism and Egalitarianism in Melanesia

A Reconsideration of the Pentecostal Gender Paradox

in Religion and Society
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  • 1 University of Bergen annelin.eriksen@uib.no
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ABSTRACT

In this article I discuss ‘the Pentecostal gender paradox’, famously coined by Bernice Martin. I do so by comparing Melanesian and Pentecostal forms of egalitarianism. My argument centers on the contention that in order for this paradox to emerge, specific concepts of equality and gender have to be kept fixed across contexts where they may not necessarily be stable. Pentecostalism has a specific effect on the role of women in the church, such as giving them access to the spirit, while also impacting on the notion of equality and ideas about the nature of gender. I conclude that in Pentecostalism gender is seen as an individual quality and that gender relations are viewed as power relations.

Contributor Notes

ANNELIN ERIKSEN is Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Bergen, Norway. She has worked in Vanuatu, Melanesia, for over two decades. Her research deals extensively with Pentecostal churches in the capital Port Vila and with analyses of gender. Recent publications include “Sarah’s Sinfulness” (Current Anthropology, 2014) and “The Pastor and the Prophetess” (Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 2012); annelin.eriksen@uib.no.

Religion and Society

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