I Am a Witch for Jesus! Ritual, Symbolic Violence and Trauma in African Pentecostalism

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 09:15
Oral Presentation
Afe ADOGAME, Princeton Theological Seminary, USA
Hannah TAYLOR-ABDULAI, Accra Technical University, Ghana
Scholarly and public attention has been drawn, particularly in the last few decades, to the dynamism, mobility and public visibility of Pentecostal and charismatic churches within the African and African diaspora religious landscapes. However, little focus has been paid to aspects of the ritualistic dimension, that in many cases have become associated with incidences of ritual abuse, verbal terror and symbolic violence, often unleashed by some religious entrepreneurs on unsuspecting adherents/clientele; acts that could infringe on their human and individual rights, and pose dire health consequences and challenges. This paper analyses the ritual dimension of some Pentecostal/charismatic churches, focusing on the ritual acts and idioms with criminal dimensions and a proclivity for abuse; the attendant trauma faced by adherents and clientele and their personal narratives (testimonies); the public discourses of approval/disapproval that have accompanied such ritual actions and verbal expressions. Using specific case studies from different African contexts, such ritualism will be critically analysed against the backdrop of the social/spiritual capital theory.