Up and Out
Movement and Mobility among Pentecostals in Eurasia
Keywords:Pentecostalism, Eurasia, movement, conversion, missionizing
When religious seekers in Eurasia choose to turn away from historically national denominations and join faith-based communities perceived as non-traditional and “foreign” there are important implications. Such conversions challenge the historic norm in this region of the world of a symbiotic connection among religion, nation and state, which trades on the idea that particular cultures and religious affiliations are anchored in specific places. In contrast, Pentecostal communities embrace mobility in all its guises – desired, actual and social – and enjoin converts to communities that operate on local and transnational levels. They foster practices, values and identities embedded in “travelling cultures,” a concept I borrow from James Clifford (1997), that bypass the nation and deterritorialize identity and culture. Travelling cultures are spawned by movement, but they do not result in diasporas. Rather, they produce transnational deterritorialized forms of sociality that impart new knowledges and experiences by conveying cultural patterns that move along routes of exchange. Although Clifford focuses on such forms of movement as immigration, trade and tourism, I highlight the role of missionizing and displacement among Pentecostals here as a means to forge travelling cultures. The global communities that Pentecostal organizations are creating cater to the mobile self by offering “travelling cultures” and multiple layers of belonging – local, national, and global - and this inspires conversion and helps to explain the appeal of Pentecostalism after the collapse of socialism.
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