GenPent Seminar week

December 9th-12th 2013


University of Bergen



Monday 9th – Participants arrive in Bergen


1200-1300 Lunch and welcome – Presentation of GenPent research project – Annelin Eriksen

1300-1500 Presentation and discussion of current research – Naomi Haynes, University of Edinburgh – “Rethinking the ‘Gender Paradox’: Domestic Life and Pentecostal Ministry on the Zambian Copperbelt”


Tuesday 10th


1000-1200 Presentation – Thorgeir Kolshus, University of Oslo – “The coming of age of the Clapping Church: Ritualized spontaneity and the gendered division of the labour of worship in north Vanuatu”

1200-1300 Lunch

1300-1500 Presentation and discussion of current research – Rodolfo Maggio, University of Manchester – “My wife converted me”: Gender Relations, Personhood, and Value in Pentecostal households in Solomon Islands”


Wednesday 11th


1000-1200 Presentation and discussion of current research – Ruy Blanes, University of Bergen

1200-1300 Lunch

1300-1500 Presentation and discussion of current research – Michelle MacCarthy, University of Bergen


Thursday 12th


1000-1200 Presentation and discussion of current research – Juliet Gilbert, Oxford University

1200-1300 Lunch

1315-1500 Department Seminar – Naomi Haynes, University of Edinburgh


Friday 13th

Participants depart

The Genesis of value: Comparison in Anthropological Studies of Religion

EPHE-Paris May 14-16, 2013

Organizers: Annelin Eriksen (Gender and Pentecostalism Project, University of Bergen)

André Iteanu ( CNRS École Pratique des Hautes Études)

In this workshop we want to challenge a common but very limited form of comparison. Anthropologists who explicitly claim to compare often focus on empirical phenomena (marriage institutions, religious institutions etc.) and on the way these are produced and developed in different contexts. To ensure comparability, they compare neighboring or so-called “similar”, societies. However, as Detienne (2008) pointed out, in doing so, they remain prisoners of the idea that one can only compare “that which is comparable”. Comparability is, however, not an objective fact but a social construction. For instance, in the cases of “neighboring societies” and “similar societies”, comparability is defined respectively by assumed shared origin or mutual influences, and by material or structural resemblance. From an anthropological point of view, this could be regarded as “sympathetic comparison”, in a similar sense that we speak of “sympathetic magic”.

In contrast, the notion of comparison that this workshop wants to investigate is integral to anthropology but entails more than comparing “similar” societies. It is implicit in any anthropological description and becomes explicit when the observer casts his or her own position into the framework of his or her analysis. It has today become even more obvious or “fundamental” in all the explorations that deconstruct the anthropologist’s perceptive tools. No doubt, it is forever ongoing as every deconstruction opens the way for new ones.

Given this point of view, we all compare, all the time. However, the question of comparison itself has not been directly addressed for a number of years. Therefore, this workshop seeks to engage its participants in the question of the role of comparison for anthropology and how we should conceptualise comparative frameworks. As opposed to empirical comparison, ours takes place at the level of ideology. It implies a focus on how each analyzed element is part of larger systems which gives it its meaning. Dumont’s (1980) comparative analysis of hierarchical and individualistic systems is a case in point. His studies were used as a model for other comparative analyses in anthropology (see Kapferer 1988 [2011] on nationalism, or Alès and Barraud 1991 on sex/gender). This sort of comparison often involves contrasting different societies and a focus on cultural and regional diversity. It encourages the research to investigate the systematic way in which social parts (for instance violence or gender relations) are related to a larger whole that stands for the social. Adopting this stand, open new venues for it then becomes possible to compare even distant and heterogeneous social practices for as long as the analysis accounts for the analytical level of values on which the comparison takes place.

Nonetheless, in order to enhance the coherence of our discussion, this workshop will give priority to the “level of religion”. Religion is here taken in the sense of a value that has the capacity to encompass and influence the life of people while at the same time being idiosyncratic to a very large extent; for this matter, ideology or cosmology might be more appropriate terms. Encompassing values are also often sacred values, but not necessarily conventionally seen as “religious” values (see for instance Kapferer 1988 on nationalist egalitarianism as a religious value).

ESfO Conference – The Power of the Pacific: Values, Materials, Images

Bergen December 5-8, 2012 click here for conference webpage

Session 10. The Gendered Power of the Church in Melanesia

Organizer: Annelin Eriksen (University of Bergen) Contact:

Although the topic of Christianity is to some extent novel as a main focus in anthropological analysis generally (Robbins 2007) and from the region in particular, Christianity has a long history in Melanesia (Barker 1990). The church, whether it is a colonial mission church, an independent church or a new Pentecostal church, is of fundamental importance for social organization on the village level as well as for concepts of the nation and the state. This session calls for papers that will enhance our understanding of the gendered dynamics of churches in the Pacific. There has been an increasing focus the last couple of years on how Christianity challenge established concepts of personhood (Robbins 2004), on the economic aspects of this process (McDougall 2009), on the connection between ideas about money, nation and Christian apocalypticism (Eves 2003), of the connection between Christianity and politics (McDougall and Tomlinson forthcoming). These are all important contributions to an understanding of how Christianity shapes new formations of personhood, ideas of nationhood and state forms. However, we have to a lesser degree included the gendered dynamics of these processes in our analysis. This session encourages papers that both look at the concrete way in which gender relations affect church organization, how gendered roles and behavior in church enhance or challenge established gender relations. We also want to encourage a focus on how a gendered Christian discourse sets the premises for ideas of what a Christian community is, both at the level of single churches and at the level of the nation. In other words; we encourage a focus on ideas of what “the social” is in a Christian Melanesian world. How are ideas of nationhood, unity, and “new life” connected to fundamental constructions of gendered ideals within a Christian universe? For instance; to what extent are Christian gendered discourses connected to ideas of social order, of a morally good way of organizing social relations, of leadership and government. Might the idea of nationhood for instance be related to certain ideas of femininity; of fertility, motherhood, caring and nurturing, within a Christian cosmology?.


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: