Maskens “Mobility among Pentecostal pastors”

Maskens, Maïté.  2012.  Mobility among Pentecostal pastors and migratory “miracles”.  Canadian Journal of African Studies 46(3): 397-409.

Abstract: Taking into account space and identity in the movements of transnational religious actors, this article is engaged in reframing and reinterpreting experience by investigating the articulation of migratory and religious experiences as expressed by the pastors of four different Brussels-based Pentecostal congregations. The analysis of pastors’ narratives, as they reassess the circumstances that brought them from Sub-Saharan Africa or Latin America to Belgium, reveals an interwoven process of geographical shifts and “divine” actions: this offers us an opportunity to consider an implied double process of mobility and religion. On the one hand, we can see how Pentecostalism transforms and subverts their immigrant experience by allowing for an alternate narrative of this experience. On the other hand, we can analyse the effect of the migratory experience on the discourse and religious practices in the new social context, more particularly through the identification of such “Children of God” with missionary duties towards their fellow immigrants. An analysis of the pastors’ narratives also offers a particularly relevant opportunity to question the tensions between processes of endogenous identification (missionaries elected by God and working towards the extension of his “kingdom”) and exogenous assignment, repeated associations of otherness and strangeness, and the stigma coupled with pejorative characterizations of the “migrant”.