The social architecture of belonging in the African pentecostal diaspora

Rafael Cazarin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


From megachurches in movie theatres to prayer groups held in living rooms, Pentecostals worldwide are constantly carrying out religious activities that ultimately aim to integrate diverse worshippers into the kingdom of God. Born-again Christians refashion their ‘ways of being’ by breaking down and re-establishing the interpersonal relationships shaped and changed by emerging diasporic modernities. I examined some of these changing ways of being by comparing the discursive practices of African Pentecostal pastors in Johannesburg (South Africa) and Bilbao (Spain). These case-studies demonstrate how these migrant-initiated churches create a ‘social architecture’, a platform on which African worshippers find social and spiritual integration in increasingly globalized contexts. I argue that the subdivision of large congregations into specialized fellowship groups provides African migrants with alternative strategies to achieve a sense of belonging in an expanding diasporic network. Their transformative mission of spiritual education, by spreading African(ized) and Pentecostal values according to age, gender, or social roles, helps to uplift them from being a marginalized minority to being a powerful group occupying a high moral ground.

Original languageEnglish
Article number440
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


  • African pentecostalism
  • Diaspora
  • Identity
  • Integration
  • Transnationalism


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