Pentecostal Fractality in Socially Deprived Urban Spaces

A Case Study in Bajos de Mena, Santiago de Chile

Authors

  • Abraham Gonzalo Paulsen Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/pent.37534

Keywords:

Pentecostalism, Evangelicalism, Bajos de Mena, Santiago, fractality

Abstract

Pentecostals form the largest faction of evangelicalism in Chile and Latin America more widely. Their message has appealed especially to the urban poor, but this explains their success only in part. In Chile, Pentecostals have managed to withstand an overall decline of evangelicalism through a pattern of growth by fragmentation. Whereas traditional evangelical churches are struggling to retain their membership, let alone establish new branches or engage in missionary efforts, Pentecostal congregations are spreading and growing in number still. This is not so much the result of systematic missionary efforts, but of Pentecostal fragmentation and of its adaptability to the living situations of socially vulnerable classes. Based on a four-year investigation that looked into the history and geographical distribution of eleven Christian denominations in the three most populated metropolitan areas of Chile, the article offers a detailed analysis of the growth and development of Pentecostal churches among the urban poor. The example studied here is the Bajos de Mena, a poorly built and extremely dense neighbourhood of Santiago de Chile, raised up by the Chilean post-dictatorship governments to resettle poor urban dwellers from areas they previously occupied. Bajos de Mena is replete with Pentecostal churches of various types, and most of them can be explained by following the resettlement movements of their adherents and leaders. Tracing the distribution and history of Pentecostal churches in Bajos de Mena, the article offers an anthropogeographical lens to explaining the success and fragmented nature of the Pentecostal churches in certain sectors of Chilean society.

Author Biography

Abraham Gonzalo Paulsen, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Academic and researcher of the Institute of Geography of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. Geographer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. Professor of History, Geography, Civic Education, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. D. in Territory, Environment and Society, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain. He has written articles and book chapters on the geography of religions, on the theory of geography and on the study of territorial manifestations of various social sources of power. In addition to university teaching in geography, he carries out activities related to curricular analysis, geographic education and sustainability of development. His lines of research address the geography of religions, theory of geography, relations between power and territory, and poverty and sustainability.

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Published

2020-06-22

How to Cite

Paulsen, A. G. (2020). Pentecostal Fractality in Socially Deprived Urban Spaces: A Case Study in Bajos de Mena, Santiago de Chile. PentecoStudies, 19(1), 81-100. https://doi.org/10.1558/pent.37534

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Section

Articles