Fieldworking’ Deliverance Rituals in a Liberian Pentecostal Ministry

The Surprising Benefits of Embracing your "Otherness" While Taking Part in Religious Performance


  • Gwendolyn Heaner University of London



Christianity, deliverance, fieldwork, Liberia, Pentecostalism, performance


This paper describes fieldwork attempts to understand perceptions of the spirit world in one Liberian Pentecostal ministry, and the limitations in fully understanding and collecting data for such an ambiguous topic, when relying only on interviews and observations. Using only these methods, I was faced with a number of seeming contradictions between teachings and practices. By remaining flexible in my fieldwork methods, I found that taking advantage of my “otherness” – my status as a non born-again Christian – rather than being an obstacle to gaining access, was actually very useful, especially when I was surprisingly invited to be the subject of one of the ministry’s deliverance rituals. The reasons that I was allowed to take part in the performance and the performance itself gave me valuable data that could not have been acquired through any of my own questions or observations.


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Author Biography

Gwendolyn Heaner, University of London

Gwendolyn Heaner received her PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies in the Department of the Study of Religions. Her thesis is based on fieldwork conducted in Liberia from September 2007 to July 2008, which considers the spiritual idiom through which social and political issues are addressed within Pentecostal and charismatic Churches.


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How to Cite

Heaner, G. (2011). Fieldworking’ Deliverance Rituals in a Liberian Pentecostal Ministry: The Surprising Benefits of Embracing your "Otherness" While Taking Part in Religious Performance. Fieldwork in Religion, 5(2), 193–206.