DPhil, Social and Cultural Anthropology
St Antony's College
Thesis: Navigating beliefs in Guinea-Bissau: Evangelical missionization and conversion in a plural religious setting (working title)
Research: My doctoral research looks at the religious dimension of social change in Guinea-Bissau, a Lusophone country located in West Africa, with focus on the growth of so-called world religions, particularly Evangelical Christianity. I utilize the concept of conversion as template for my investigation focusing on the distinguishing particularities of the Bissau-Guinean case as well as its connections with broader global processes related to the rise of charismatic religion. Statistics point out that in a span of thirty years, from 1979 to 2009, Christianity has grown from accounting for 5 percent of the population to 22 percent, whereas traditional religions have suffered a decrease from 60 percent to 15 percent. Islam has also increased, going from making up for 35 percent of the population to 45 percent. In order to understand this phenomenon and its consequences, this study will ethnographically engage with a contemporary missionary project carried out by a partnership between a Brazilian and a North American missionary agency. Through this framework of analysis this research will attempt, on the one hand, to unveil transnational ties among Evangelicals worldwide and, on the other, to understand the ways in which proselytization and conversion takes place in a country characterised by a rather plural religious setting wherein people constantly navigate from one belief to another and, thus, contribute to ongoing anthropological discussions on Christianity and religious change, particularly those related to the theorising of conversion and the relationship between Christianity and traditional religion.
Key research interests: I am broadly interested in the history of Christian missions in Africa. My research also attempts to bring historical and ethnographic methods together as it looks at the history of Protestantism in Guinea-Bissau whose beginnings date back to the 1940s when the first Protestant mission was founded by British missionaries.