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‘We are saving the township’: Pentecostalism, faith-based organisations, and development in South Africa

  • Marian Burchardt (a1)

In this article, I trace the emergence of Pentecostal FBOs in the South African city of Cape Town. By focusing on their involvements in HIV/AIDS programmes, including practices such as health education, counselling and material support, I analyse the organisational dynamics and consequences ensuing from their activities. Pentecostal involvements in development work engender complex connections between two distinct processes: On the one hand, they offer Pentecostal communities new social spaces for promoting their faith and moral agendas. On the other hand, development work urges Pentecostal communities to recast their activities in the logic of formal organisation and accountability (proposals–grants–projects). On the ground, these logics are constantly subverted as beneficiaries construe FBOs as patrons and deploy Pentecostal identities for mediating access to FBOs and the resources they command. My argument is that Pentecostal faith works to mediate the entire set of social relationships, expectations, imageries and practices that structure FBO work on the ground. More than belief and ritual, it is Pentecostal belonging that links organisations, people, opportunities and resources.

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The Journal of Modern African Studies
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