New book on how charismatic pastors become ‘big’ in Africa – University of Copenhagen

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21 December 2016

New book on how charismatic pastors become ‘big’ in Africa


New book published by Karen Lauterbach, Associate Professor at Centre of African Studies: Christianity, Wealth, and Spiritual Power in Ghana, by Palgrave Macmillan

The book centers around mid-level charismatic pastors in Ghana. Karen Lauterbach analyzes pastorship as a pathway to becoming small “big men” and achieving status, wealth, and power in the country. The volume investigates both the social processes of becoming a pastor and the spiritual dimensions of how power and wealth are conceptualized, achieved, and legitimized in the particular context of Asante in Ghana.

Lauterbach integrates her analysis of charismatic Christianity with a historically informed examination of social mobility—how people in subordinate positions seek to join up with power. She explores how the ideas and experiences surrounding the achievement of wealth and performance of power are shaped and re-shaped. In this way, the book historicizes current expressions of charismatic Christianity in Ghana while also bringing the role of religion and belief to bear on our understanding of wealth and power as they function more broadly in African societies.

“This book is one of the most insightful studies available of modern African belief within a documented historical and cultural framework. It is highly rewarding in its own right, and richly suggestive for all those interested in the past and present of Africa.” (T.C. McCaskie, University of Birmingham, UK)

“Karen Lauterbach’s ethnography is creative and innovative on several levels because Lauterbach takes the reader on a journey through a dynamic religious field, demonstrating how religious operatives draw from indigenous and Christian discursive practices to imagine a world and the kind of leadership and ecclesial community necessary to make that world possible. This is a fascinating ethnography of the daily lives of the many unsung spiritual leaders at the center of the Pentecostal explosion in Africa and the African diaspora.” (Elias Kifon Bongmba, Rice University, USA)

You can read more and buy the book here.