How does inhabiting a female body affect the experience of indigenized Christianity in Africa? Spirit, Structure, and Flesh addresses this question by exploring ways ritual, symbol, and dogma circumscribe, constrain, and empower women in African Instituted Churches (AICs)-new denominations founded by Africans skeptical of dogmas offered by mainstream churches with roots in European empires. Crumbley investigates the beliefs and practices associated with institutionalized female roles in three of the most important AICs. These practices include the prohibition against the ordination of women, the expectation that women avoid holy objects and sites during menstruation, and the congregational seating arrangements that construct asymmetrical relations of power. While gender distinctions seem to signal an absence of female autonomy and power, Crumbley argues that women count in the day-to-day life of these churches, whether ordained or not, and that these women exercise agency.
Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
Number of pages: 200
Weight: 340 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 15 mm
"What makes Deirdre Crumbley's work unique is, first, her focus on women's place in three AIGs . . . . and second, her detailed and empathetic accounts of church services, which reflect her own experience growing up in an African American storefront church in Philadelphia."--Elisha P. Renne, Journal of Religion in Africa
"Crumbley's close relationship with her subject of the study gives this book intimacy and energy. . . Deidre Crumble has done us a service in offering an insightful, deeply felt book on a subject that matters, both for church people and for those who would seek to understand the lineaments of our cosmopolitan world."--H-Net
"At a time when scholarly focus is gradually shifting to new religious movements in Africa, Deidre Helen Crumbley has revisited the Aladura in a refreshing manner, drawing our attention to the intricacies of their gender practices. . . . She has successfully contributed to the gender debate by laying out the various ways in which women have continued to exercise their agency to enhance their status within the Aladura churches, just as their counterparts are doing in the wider society. I recommend this book to all interested not only in gender issues but also in religious matters."--Olufunke Adeboye, African Studies Review