Centre for Social Science and Global Health

Violent Conversion. Brazilian Pentecostalism and Urban Women in Mozambique

18 November 2016

There has been an extraordinary growth in Pentecostalism in Africa, with Brazilian Pentecostals establishing new transnational Christian connections, initiating widespread changes not only in religious practice but in society. Linda van de Kamp, assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Amsterdam, describes its rise in Maputo, capital of Mozambique, and the sometimes dramatic impact of Pentecostalism on women.

In Maputo large numbers of urban women are taking advantage of the opportunities Pentecostalism offers to overcome restrictions at home, pioneer new life spaces and change their lives through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Conversion can also mean a violent rupturing with tradition and familiy and social networks. When pastors encourage women to cut their ties with the past and ancestral spirits, women come to see their kin and husbands as imbued with evil powers. Many leave their families and often live alone as unmarried women, conquering spheres that used to be forbidden to them, sometimes earning more than men of a similar age. They are also expected to donate huge sums to the churches, often money that they can ill afford, bringing new hardships.

Book details

Linda van de Kamp (2016), Violent Conversion. Brazilian Pentecostalism and Urban Women in Mozambique, Suffolk, UK: James Currey, Religion in Transforming Africa Series

Published by  AISSR