Looking Back, Moving Forward: Transformation and Ethical Practice in the Ghanaian Church of Pentecost

By Girish Daswani

© 2015

How do Ghanaian Pentecostals resolve the contradictions of their own faith while remaining faithful to their religious identity? Bringing together the anthropology of Christianity and the anthropology of ethics, Girish Daswani’s Looking Back, Moving Forward investigates the compromises with the past that members of Ghana’s Church of Pentecost make in order to remain committed Christians.

Even as church members embrace the break with the past that comes from being  “born-again,” many are less concerned with the boundaries of Christian practice than with interpersonal questions – the continuity of suffering after conversion, the causes of unhealthy relationships, the changes brought about by migration – and how to deal with them. By paying ethnographic attention to the embodied practices, interpersonal relationships, and moments of self-reflection in the lives of members of the Church of Pentecost in Ghana and amongst the Ghanaian diaspora in London, Looking Back, Moving Forward explores ethical practice as it emerges out of the questions that church members and other Ghanaian Pentecostals ask themselves.

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Product Details

  • Series: Anthropological Horizons
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 280 pages
  • Illustrations: 18
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.8in x 9.0in
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  • PUBLISHED APR 2015

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    ISBN 9781442626584
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    ISBN 9781442649163
  • PUBLISHED FEB 2015

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Quick Overview

Looking Back, Moving Forward investigates the embodied practices, interpersonal relationships, and moments of self-reflection in the lives of members of the Church of Pentecost in Ghana and amongst the Ghanaian diaspora in London.

Looking Back, Moving Forward: Transformation and Ethical Practice in the Ghanaian Church of Pentecost

By Girish Daswani

© 2015

How do Ghanaian Pentecostals resolve the contradictions of their own faith while remaining faithful to their religious identity? Bringing together the anthropology of Christianity and the anthropology of ethics, Girish Daswani’s Looking Back, Moving Forward investigates the compromises with the past that members of Ghana’s Church of Pentecost make in order to remain committed Christians.

Even as church members embrace the break with the past that comes from being  “born-again,” many are less concerned with the boundaries of Christian practice than with interpersonal questions – the continuity of suffering after conversion, the causes of unhealthy relationships, the changes brought about by migration – and how to deal with them. By paying ethnographic attention to the embodied practices, interpersonal relationships, and moments of self-reflection in the lives of members of the Church of Pentecost in Ghana and amongst the Ghanaian diaspora in London, Looking Back, Moving Forward explores ethical practice as it emerges out of the questions that church members and other Ghanaian Pentecostals ask themselves.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: Anthropological Horizons
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 280 pages
  • Illustrations: 18
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.8in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    ‘With its vivid ethnography, Looking Back, Moving Forward offers an intimate portrait of the everyday lives of Ghanaian Pentecostals, both in Ghana and in London.’


    Anna Strhan
    Marginalia Review of Books - January 2016

    ‘An excellent contribution to the study of migrant faith, this book also has much to say about spirituality and religious practice more broadly defined.’


    Philip Jenkins
    Christian Century 2 October 2016

    "A great strength of Looking Back, Moving Forward is its rich empirical detail, built on long-term an clearly emphatic fieldwork among Ghanaians in Ghana and overseas…Most impressive is this book’s honest acknowledgment of the complexity of everyday religion, a complexity that escapes conceptual grasp and resists theoretical mastery."


    Devaka Permawardhana, Emory University
    Journal of Religion in Africa, no 48, 2018

    Looking Back, Moving Forward is exceptional because it is so rich, intimate, and soulfully concerned when it comes to the anguished subjectivity of Ghanaian Pentecostals at home and abroad in their diaspora, especially in London. Their portraits, like their artfully told personal stories, are striking.”


    Richard Werbner, Professor Emeritus in African Anthropology, University of Manchester

    “Daswani has written a groundbreaking account of the way people live out the task of balancing continuity and discontinuity in their daily lives. Focusing on members of the Ghanaian-originated Church of Pentecost, he brings together two rapidly growing areas of scholarship – the study of global Christianity and the anthropological study of ethics – in exciting new ways."


    Joel Robbins, Sigrid Rausing Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge
  • Author Information

    Girish Daswani is an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Toronto.
  • Table of contents

    Introduction
    1. Rupture and Continuity
    2. Uncertainties and Dilemmas
    3. Prophets and Prayer
    4. Individuality and Dividuality
    5. Kinship and Migration
    6. African Christians in London
    7. Citizens of Heaven
    Conclusion: The Future Will Fight Against You

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