Up and Out

Movement and Mobility among Pentecostals in Eurasia


  • Catharine Wanner The Pennsylvania State University




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.


Anderson, R. 1979. Vision of the Disinherited. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Burdick, J. 1993. Looking for God in Brazil: The Progressive Catholic Church in Urban Brazil’s Religious Arena. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Chernets, V. 2004. ‘L.M. Chernovet’skyi: Blagodaria Bogy…’ Posol 1: 6–7.

Clifford, J. 1997. Routes: Travel and Translation in the Late Twentieth Century. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Finke, R., and R. Stark. 2000. Acts of Faith: Exploring the Human Side of Religion. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Fletcher, W.C. 1985. Soviet Charismatics: The Pentecostals in the USSR. New York: Peter Lang.

Giddens, A. 1990. The Consequences of Modernity. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Johnson, P.C. 2007. Diaspora Conversions: Black Carib Religion and the Recovery of Africa. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Johnstone, P., and J. Mandryk (eds). 2001. Operation World. Waynesboro, GA: Paternoster Publishing.

Lancaster, R. 1988. Thanks to God and the Revolution: Popular Religion and Class Consciousness in the New Nicaragua. New York: Columbia University Press.

Landkauskas, G. 2002. “On ‘Modern’ Christians, Consumption, and the Value of National Identity in Post-Soviet Lithuania,” Ethnos 67(3): 320–44. doi:10.1080/0014184022000031

Martin, D. 1990. Tongues of Fire: The Explosion of Protestantism in Latin America. Oxford: Blackwell.

— 2002. Pentecostalism: The World Their Parish. Oxford: Blackwell.

Meyer, B. 1998. “‘Make a Complete Break with the Past.’ Memory and Postcolonial Modernity in Ghanian Pentecostalist Discourse,” Journal of Religion in Africa 28(3): 316–49.

— 2004. “Christianity in Africa: From African Independent to Pentecostal-Charismatic Churches.” Annual Review of Anthropology 33: 447–74. doi:10.1146/annurev. anthro.33.070203.143835

Mitrokin, N. 2001. “Aspects of the Religious Situation in Ukraine.” Religion, State and Society 29.3: 173–96. doi:10.1080/09637490120093133

Pelkmans, Mathijs (ed.). Conversion after Socialism: Disruptions, Modernisms, and Technologies of Faith. Oxford: Berghahn, 2009.

Poewe, K. (ed.). 1994. Charismatic Christianity as Global Culture. Columbia SC: University of South Carolina Press.

Robbins, J. 2004. “The Globalization of Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity.” Annual Review of Anthropology 33: 117–43. doi:10.1146/annurev.anthro.32.061002.093421

— 2007. “Continuity Thinking and the Problem of Christian Culture: Belief, Time and the Anthropology of Christianity.” Current Anthropology 48.1: 5–38. doi:10.1086/508690

Ruel, M. 2002. “Christians as Believers.” In M. Lambek (ed.), A Reader in the Anthropology of Religion. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 99–113.

Savinskii, S.N. 2001. Istoriia Evangel’skikh Khristian – Baptistov Ukrainy, Rossii, Belorussii (1917–1967). St Petersburg: Biblia dlia Vsekh.

Sawatsky, W. 1981. Soviet Pentecostals Since World War II. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press.

Tataryn, M. 2001. “Russia and Ukraine: Two Models of Religious Liberty and Two Models for Orthodoxy.” Religion, State and Society 29.3: 155–72. doi:10.1080/09637490120107272

Wanner, C. 2003. “Advocating New Moralities: Conversion to Pentecostalism in Ukraine.” Religion, State and Society 31.3: 273–87. doi:10.1080/0963749032000107072

— 2004. “Missionaries of Faith and Culture: Pentecostal Encounters in Ukraine.” Slavic Review 63.4: 732–55. doi:10.2307/1520418

— 2006. “Money, Morality and New Forms of Exchange in Postsocialist Ukraine.” Ethnos 70.4: 515–37. doi:10.1080/00141840500419782

— 2007. Communities of the Converted: Ukrainians and Global Evangelism. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

— 2009. “Missionaries and Pluralism: How the Law Changed the Religious Landscape in Ukraine.” In Larissa Z. Onyshkevysh and Maria G. Rewakowicz (eds), Contemporary Ukraine on the European Cultural Map. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe.



How to Cite

Wanner, C. (2011). Up and Out: Movement and Mobility among Pentecostals in Eurasia. PentecoStudies, 9(2), 195–210. https://doi.org/10.1558/ptcs.v9.i2.9198