Pentecostalism as Cultural Resistance

Music and Tongue-speaking as Collective Response in a Brooklyn Church


  • Peter Marina University of Wisconsin - La Crosse
  • Michael Wilkinson Trinity Western University, Canada



Pentecostalism, culture, spiritual capital, power, tonguespeaking, Afro-Caribbean religion


Based on ethnographic research in an Afro-Caribbean Pentecostal Church in Brooklyn, this article focuses on Pentecostal music and tongue-speaking as a form of cultural resistance. At least in urban settings, Pentecostalism is a creative cultural response to collectively experienced structural problems. Scholars have demonstrated the institutional challenges for Pentecostalism including its moderating effect on tongue-speaking. This article explores how one congregation maintains vitality through the practice of speaking in tongues, music, and prayer, as a type of spiritual capital. Spiritual capital explains how Pentecostalism provides a unique form of power for members to show their own agency and resistance to institutionalization as well as structural subordination. This analysis provides a framework for understanding music, charisma, and religious vitality in a Pentecostal congregation and its relationship with the larger cultural context.

Author Biographies

  • Peter Marina, University of Wisconsin - La Crosse

    Peter Marina, PhD, associate professor of sociology, University of Wisconsin–La Crosse, and series editor of Ethnographies of Religion with Lexington Books. He is author of Down and Out in New Orleans: Transgressive Living in the Informal Economy (Columbia University Press, 2017), Chasing Religion in the Caribbean: Ethnographic Journeys from Antigua to Trinidad (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016) and Getting the Holy Ghost: Urban Ethnography in A Brooklyn Pentecostal Tongue-Speaking Church (Lexington Books, 2014).

  • Michael Wilkinson, Trinity Western University, Canada

    Michael Wilkinson, PhD, professor of sociology, Trinity Western University and director, Religion in Canada Institute. He has written extensively on Pentecostalism, including Pentecostals and the Body (Brill, 2017), A Culture of Faith (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2015) and Catch the Fire (Northern Illinois University Press, 2014).


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How to Cite

Marina, P., & Wilkinson, M. (2017). Pentecostalism as Cultural Resistance: Music and Tongue-speaking as Collective Response in a Brooklyn Church. PentecoStudies, 16(2), 216-242.