In the now very rapidly growing literature on Pentecostalism in Africa, Ruth Marshall’s book
occupies a special place. In disciplinary terms, most of that literature falls under religious studies
or history. The anthropologists came later, particularly those from North America, who had to
get over their distaste for a religion that seemed so saturated in the idioms of the US Bible Belt.
The originality of Marshall’s book is grounded in its linkage of questions derived from political
theory with rich data collected through intensive and sustained fieldwork. But she insists it is
not “an ethnography of the movement” (p. 5), so what exactly is it?
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