African Churches, Sustainable Development and the Decolonisation Discourse
Published by Routledge in 2020, African Initiated Christianity and the Decolonisation of Development: Sustainable Development in Pentecostal and Independent Churches, edited by Philipp Öhlmann, Wilhelm Gräb, and Marie-Luise Frost, is available in Open Access at the Open Research Library, as part of the Routledge African Studies 2020-2022 collection.
A Blog Post by Pablo Markin.
African Initiated Christianity and the Decolonisation of Development, a collected volume edited by Philipp Öhlmann, Wilhelm Gräb and Marie-Luise Frost, investigates the substantial and growing contribution which African Independent and Pentecostal Churches are making to sustainable development in all its forms. Moreover, this volume seeks to elucidate how these churches reshape the very notion of sustainable development, while contributing to the decolonisation of development in this continent. Drawing on both overarching and comparative perspectives, this book includes chapters on West African countries, such as Nigeria, Ghana and Burkina Faso, and those from the South African region, e.g., Zimbabwe and South Africa. This book, thus, aims to contribute to scholarship in the subfield focused on African Initiated Christianity within the religion and development discourse. It is also like to substantially broaden the scope of the existing literature. Written predominantly by scholars from the African continent, the chapters in this volume illuminate potentials and perspectives of African Initiated Christianity, while combining theoretical contributions, essays by renowned church leaders, and case studies focusing on particular churches or regional contexts.
In their introduction to this edited volume, Philipp Öhlmann, Wilhelm Gräb and Marie-Luise Frost have argued that
“[t]he past 20 years have witnessed a ‘religious turn’ (Kaag and Saint-Lary 2011, 1) in international development theory, policy, and practice. A growing corpus of literature has begun to explore the manifold relationships and interactions of religion and development (Jones and Petersen 2011; Swart and Nell 2016) – in themselves two vast fields of research. Religion and development is of cross- disciplinary interest, with research spanning from religious studies and theology (e.g. Gifford 2015; Heuser 2013, 2015) to anthropology (e.g. Bornstein 2005; Freeman 2012b), sociology (e.g. Berger 2010), politics (e.g. Bompani 2010; Clarke and Jennings 2008), development studies (e.g. Deneulin and Bano 2009), and economics (e.g. Barro and McCleary 2003; Beck and Gundersen 2016; Guiso, Sapienza, and Zingales 2003). A new interdisciplinary and dynamic research field on religion and development has emerged (Bompani 2019; Ter Haar 2011; Tomalin 2015). […] For many religious communities ‘development is part of religion’, i.e. professional and academic experts’ notions of development represent only one dimension in a more comprehensive human and social transformation (Öhlmann, Frost, and Gräb 2016, 10) that is informed by and interrelated with religious, situated and indigenous knowledge. In this it is vital to also recognise that ‘[f]or most people in the developing world, religion is part of a vision of the “good life” … [R]eligion is part of the social fabric, integrated with other dimensions of life’ (Ter Haar 2011, 5–6). Van Wensveen (2011) introduced a twofold typology of the contributions of religious communities to sustainable development, differentiating between an ‘additive pattern’ and an ‘integral pattern’. Development concepts and practices that follow secular western development policies can be characterised as making an ‘instrumental addition of religion to the preset, mechanistic sustainable development production process’ (van Wensveen 2011, 85). In difference to this ‘additive pattern’, she identifies an opposite model, in which religion does not function as an instrument for secular development goals, but in which religious communities set the agenda bringing to the table their own religious-inspired concepts and practices of sustainable development. ‘[D]evelopment as part of religion’ (Öhlmann, Frost, and Gräb 2016, 10) encapsulates precisely this ‘integral pattern’ brought forward by van Wensveen (2011)” (Öhlmann, Gräb and Frost, 2020, pp. 1-2).
Edited by Pablo Markin
Öhlmann, Philipp, Wilhelm Gräb, and Marie-Luise Frost. African Initiated Christianity and the Decolonisation of Development: Sustainable Development in Pentecostal and Independent Churches. Routledge, 2020. Accessed September 10, 2020. https://openresearchlibrary.org.
Featured Image Credits
Rock Church, Lalibela, Ethiopia, May 23, 2018 | © Courtesy of Rod Waddington/Flickr.