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Title: Profit, prophets and God's money : the making and unmaking of riches in the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God in Durban, South Africa
Author: Van Wyk, Iilana
ISNI:       0000 0004 2668 7533
Awarding Body: School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London)
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2007
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The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG), a Pentecostal Charismatic Church (PCC) of Brazilian origin, opened its first branch in South Africa in 1993. Post-apartheid, the church found an enthusiastic following that embraced its promises of miraculous health and wealth. Within ten years the UCKG boasted more than 230 branches. Anthropologists ascribed the phenomenal growth of the UCKG and similar PCCs on the continent to processes of modernisation and to the ways in which these churches helped people to cope with the pressures and demands of modernity. They paid particular attention to PCCs' ability to transform Africans through the mechanism of conversion into individuals better able to opt into the global economic order from which they had been excluded. Anthropologists also emphasised the skill with which PCCs created new or modern forms of sociality that supported and moulded the individual and his/her modern aspirations. My research among UCKG members in Durban showed how problematic these analyses were. I argued that the UCKG's theological and institutional frameworks, which helped it to successfully localise and globalise, was culture-less. As such, the UCKG didn't serve as an institution that transformed its members into hyper-modern individuals but merely offered them technologies to realise their modern desires, or 'blessings'. Indeed, UCKG members were already transformed by the neoliberal conditions into which they were thrust. They utilised the UCKG's technologies in an attempt to counteract neoliberal-induced unemployment, fractured families, insecurities and a lack of health care. Paradoxically for its members, the UCKG's technologies exacerbated their problems. Many stayed on, enthralled by the fantastic testimonies and exorcisms in the church. It is in this context that I discuss the vicious rumours that circulated about the UCKG, not merely as idle gossip but as a means to scrutinise and overturn the invisible working of power.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available