Inaugural Workshop Gender and Christianity (21-23 April 2012)

Inaugural Workshop

“Establishing a framework for the anthropological study of Gender and Christianity”

Bergen 21-23 April 2012, at Solstrand Hotel

This is the first workshop in a series of four on the “Gender and Pentecostal Christianity” project. The main aim of this workshop is to single out gender as an analytical category in the anthropological study of Christianity. Although the project as such entails a specific focus on Pentecostal Christianity, this workshop will have a broader scope. In order to reveal the dynamics of gender in Pentecostal churches it is useful to also to include perspectives on different variants of Christianity in the two contexts included in this project; Africa and Melanesia. The more established colonial churches, the different variants of independent/indigenous churches as well as new Pentecostal churches are all of interest here.

The focus on gender as well will be broad. Gender can be defined very loosely as a signifying system, working on the logic of (often, but not always, binary) differentiation. Gender is thus a system of “codes”, and, importantly, these codes express and reproduce fundamental value structures. Our focus thus needs to be on the one hand on gender as a fundamental part of social processes, on men and women and their different practices, roles and positions in the church. On the other hand we also need to include gender in a broader sense; gendered values, acts, ideas, texts, speech, dreams, etc. We aim at discussing a variety of aspects of gender tied to different forms of Christianity.

The hypothesis is that if gender is a crucial entry point into an understanding of how meaning and values are (re)produced, a focus on gender will also highlight how these are challenged and changed. If  for instance Pentecostal Christianity represents a “new” religious ethos, making people break away from the past (Meyer 2004, Engelke 2004), from “older” churches and from “sinful lives”, creating radical breaks and often radical cultural change (Robbins 2004), will also fundamental gendered values be challenged? Or are gendered structures often re-produced in spite of fundamental cultural change?

By looking at different variants of Christianity and its gendered practices in Africa and Melanesia, we might be able to compare how, in different contexts and with different forms of Christianity, gendered systems are reproduced or changed within this religious ethos.

The workshop will be organized into an Africanist session and a Melanesianist session, with about 30 minutes presentation time for each speaker and 30 minutes for discussion. There will be two discussants for each session.


21 April

15.00 Arrival Solstrand

1600-1800 Meeting of the Advisory Board

20 00 Dinner

22 April.

10.00-10.30 Welcome and Presentation of the project, by Annelin Eriksen

Session 1: Chair Edvard Hviding

Discussants Matthew Engelke and Bjørn Bertelsen

10.30-11.00 Prophets, Mothers, Pastors, and Widows: Hierarchy, Gender, and Gendered

Hierarchy in Copperbelt Pentecostalism, by Naomi  Haynes

11.00-11.30 Discussion

11.30- 11.45 Coffee

11.45-12.15 The Gender of Sacrifice. Zulu and Christian Dilemmas, by Jone Salomonsen

12.15-12.45 Discussion

13.00-14.30 Lunch

14.30-15.00 Teaching monogamy:  submissive wives and loving husbands, the challenges of a Christian marriage in South-east Republic of Benin, by Sitna Quiroz-Uria

15.00-15.30 Discussion

15.30-15.45 Coffee

15.45-16.15 Power and Possessions: Ecstatic Christianity, Gender and the Search for Commodities in Turkanaland, Northern Kenya, by Vigdis Broch Due

16.15-16.45 Discussion

17.00-18.00 General Discussion: comments and suggestions from discussants

20. 00 Dinner

23 April

Session 2, Chair Vigdis Broch Due

Discussants: Anette Fagertun and Knut Rio

10.00-10.30 Gender as an analytical category in the anthropological study of Christianity, a case from Vanuatu, by Annelin Eriksen

10.30-11.00 Discussion

11.00-11.30 The return of muscular Christianity: Masculine moralities at work in Solomon Islands sport, by Tom Mountjoy

11.30-1200 Discussion

1200-1330 Lunch and check out of rooms

1330-14.00 Holy Fathers and Patient Mothers: Dealing with Power in an Indigenous Melanesian Church, by Edvard Hviding

14.00 -1430 Discussion

14.30-1500 Spirit Women, Church women and Passenger women. Christianity, Gender and cultural Change in Melanesia, by Joel Robbins

15.00-1530 Discussion

1530-16.30 Coffeee and General discussion: Comments and suggestions from discussants

16.30 Transportation back to Bergen city center

Administered by: University of Bergen, Department of Social Anthropology, PO box: 7802, NO-5020 Bergen,
Phone: +47 55 58 92 50 , E-mail: