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Major university conference to focus on global Pentecostalism

Pentecostal Christianity and its impact on development is to be explored at a major London conference from 5-6 September 2014 ...

A conference at SOAS (formerly the School of Oriental and African Studies), University of London will explore the substantial rise of Pentecostal Christianity in developing countries and its implications for politics, social relations, inter-religious affairs, gender roles, and economics.

In the last decades, Pentecostalism has grown significantly as a religious movement worldwide, especially in the so-called developing world.

Large parts or even the majority of the population in some countries like Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, or the Philippines now self-identify as Pentecostals, according to recent figures by the Pew Research Center.

The impact of this growth on development initiatives in these countries will be the topic of a large international and interdisciplinary conference at SOAS. Taking place on 5-6 September 2014, Pentecostalism and Development has been organised by the SOAS Centre of World Christianity in collaboration with the European Research Network on Global Pentecostalism (Glopent). The conference will include a panel discussion featuring practitioners of development. 

Dr Jörg Haustein, Lecturer in Religions in Africa at SOAS and organiser of the conference, said: “Given the current re-appraisal of the role of religions in development studies and the need for a reassessment of Pentecostalism's influence on development initiatives, this conference addresses a highly relevant theme.

“Our keynote speakers from Australia, Israel, and Norway will address our topic from the perspectives of development studies, anthropology and the study of religions. In addition, 10 parallel panels will explore a large spectrum of issues and regions, like Pentecostalism and Homosexuality in Africa, or its current role in China, to name just two of them.”

Keynote speakers are Professor Matthew Clarke, Head of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Deakin University (Australia) and author of Development and Religion; Dr Dena Freeman, Visiting Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at London School of Economics and Editor of Pentecostalism and Development, and Professor Tomas Sundnes Drønen, Professor for Global Studies and Religion at the School of Mission and Theology in Stavanger, Norway, an expert on Pentecostalism, Globalisation and Islam in Northern Cameroon.

This is the first time SOAS hosts a conference by the European Research Network on Global Pentecostalism (GloPent), which is an interdisciplinary initiative by several European universities to connect the study of Pentecostalism worldwide and across the disciplines.

The Centre of World Christianity at SOAS promotes the historic and modern contexts of Christianity in Asia and Africa by networking research initiatives at SOAS, collaborating with specialists from other institutions, and informing policymakers and the wider public about the plurality of Christianity in Africa and Asia.

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