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An Author Meets Her Critics

Around "Political Spiritualities: The Pentecostal Revolution in Nigeria" by Ruth Marshall

Ruth Marshall, J.D.Y. Peel, Daniel Jordan Smith, Joel Robbins and Jean-François Bayart

Abstract

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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