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A Fire Upon the World

Thursday Lecture Series

dateSeptember 26, 2013 timeThursday, 12:15pm EDT location The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room, Columbia University
Satellite image of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East illuminated by city lights at night

Goldstone's talk explored the various registers – social, spiritual, political-economic – in which the recent influx of Pentecostal-charismatic churches into northern Ghana are taking place. Employing a fragmented, scene-oriented approach to the narration of the incursion of this brand of Christianity into the rural, predominantly Muslim north, and through the selective interweaving of audio, visual, and textual materials, the talk sought to situate the most intimate of everyday spiritual exercises and bodily disciplines – put into the service of cultivating what the charismatics refer to as “the miraculous life” – against the historical backdrop, stretching back to the pre-colonial era, of a protracted series of attempts to pathologize, enslave, exploit, and ultimately redeem the savanna hinterland. Today, this talk suggested, the Christian campaign to “take back the north” is being animated not only by a moral and political but by a distinctive demonological imaginary, one whose lineaments, arguably, can be glimpsed only by undertaking an ethnography of the Holy Spirit.