Pentecostalism, cultural memory and the state: contested representations of time in postcolonial Malawi

TitlePentecostalism, cultural memory and the state: contested representations of time in postcolonial Malawi
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication1998
AuthorsR.A. van Dijk
EditorR. Werbner
Secondary TitleMemory and the postcolony : African anthropology and the critique of power
Pagination155 - 181
Date Published1998///
PublisherZed Books:
Place PublishedLondon [etc.]
Publication Languageeng
KeywordsAfrica, Baptist Church, Church, Country, Malawi, Pentecostalism, society

In various parts of Africa, Pentecostalism underscores the necessity for its members to make a complete break with the past. Although Pentecostalism speaks a language of modernity in which there is a past-inferior versus a present-superior dichotomy whereby the believer is prompted to sever all ties with former social relations in the search for new individuality, it would be a mistake to argue that Pentecostalism stops here. On the contrary, the author argues that because the moment of instant rebirth is seen as the power base from which new future orientations are constructed, Pentecostalism may swing in different modalities from a disembedding of the subject from past social relations to a re-embedding in relations with a different temporal orientation. This is illustrated by the case of the Pentecostalist movement of 'Abadwa Mwatsopano' (Born Again) in urban areas of Malawi, and most of all in the largest city, Blantyre. This movement rose against the official discourse in Malawi, which fetishes the remembrance of the country's cultural past. Conversion narratives of young fundamentalists remember the past only to deny it. For the Born Again movement, the truth lies with a Christian future, utopian in its emancipatory promise. Bibliogr., notes, ref

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