Mermaids and Spirit Spouses: Rituals as Technologies of Gender in Transnational African Pentecostal Spaces
This article aims to approach the construction of gender in transnational spaces by
focusing on the ritual practice of African Pentecostal migrants in Europe and in Africa.
One dimension of African Pentecostalism is its insistence on the practice of exorcism
called ‘deliverance’ where malevolent spirits are expelled from one’s body. Within the
Pentecostal demonology, several categories of spirits carry implications for how gender
is constructed. This article will analyse effects of the appearance of these spirits on
the construction of gender among Ghanaian and Congolese Pentecostal churches in
Geneva and in Accra. It will show that variations in the appearance of spirits within
rituals can be interpreted as a negotiation of gender roles in a migratory context.
Shifts in Pentecostal demonology can therefore be interpreted as a response to the
reconfiguration of gender roles associated with the broader gender context and work
opportunities in Europe.
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