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Christianity, Pentecostalism, and Social Challenges in Latin America


"Jesus is the solution": Most Pentecostal believers consider that for God nothing is impossible, and expect their faith to be not only a path towards God and Heaven but also a safe-way out of humiliation, hopelessness, poverty, illness, crime, drugs, homosexuality, and so on. This course aims to explore the key to the paradoxical success of a religion that in general imposes rigorous norms on its followers┬┐ life-styles (e.g. no alcohol, sexual discipline, generous donations, etc.), but nonetheless boasts a strong growth of willing converts and presents testimonies of drastic personal change. Various different interpretations of this topic will be examined, with a particular focus on religious market theory, compensation theory and Honneth's philosophical theory of recognition. As an exemplary case, this course will evaluate conversion in jail. That is, how has Pentecostalism come to be considered by many as a way -perhaps the only one- out of a world of drug-addiction, violence and crime?nIn the first part of the course, students will become familiar with some of the features of the Latin American religious field and with the main theories on religious conversions in Latin America. In the second part, a new approach to the phenomenon based on Honneth's theory of recognition will be analyzed. This approach will help students develop a better understanding of situations otherwise unexplained such as the success (with obvious nuances) of the Pentecostal groups among excluded populations.

Letter or Credit/No Credit
Course ID: 
221 039

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