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Title: 'Destiny is not where you are now' : fashioning new Pentecostal subjectivities among young women in Calabar, Nigeria
Author: Gilbert, Juliet Caroline Maria
ISNI:       0000 0004 5369 6099
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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The thesis examines young women’s livelihoods in Calabar, southeastern Nigeria. It discusses how young women aim to realise their believed ‘destinies of greatness’, reconciling aspirations of fortune with present insecurities. Pinpointing a time when the city’s universities were on indefinite strikes, the discussions depict young women’s industriousness as they ‘wait’ amid uncertainty. The thesis focuses explicitly on young women’s engagement with Pentecostalism, the religion encouraging action, timeliness, and knowledge of the self and God. Understanding how young women fashion Pentecostal subjectivities attuned with ideals of urban success, the chapters focus on various ‘sites’ in their lives: church ministries, the home, sewing shops, beauty pageants. The thesis argues that young women believe they can realise future fortune by constantly partaking in acts of self-preparation. However, as action is driven by the competing forces of fear and faith, the acts young women believe will fashion subjectivities conducive to urban success are always gambles. Illuminating the emic concept of ‘destiny’ – a classic concept in West African Anthropology, denoting personhood and lifecourse (Fortes 1987) – the thesis builds upon recent analyses of how action underpins concepts of hope (Miyazaki 2004), doubt (Pelkmans 2013), and fortune (da Col 2012; Graeber 2012). Illuminating action and futures, the discussion contributes to recent analyses of time, productivity and youth (Honwana 2012; Jeffrey 2010; Masquelier 2013a). By examining the often-ignored category of young women, the thesis develops an understanding of ‘feminine cultures of waiting’. The discussion of how Pentecostal subjectivities are fashioned, which draws different ‘sites’ of young women’s lives together, also furthers analyses of African youth by countering salient narratives of youth in violence (e.g. Vigh 2006). Focusing on young women’s livelihoods, the thesis contributes to an Anthropology of (Pentecostal) Christianity by illustrating how religious rhetoric and practice are carried out and negotiated outside formal church institutions.
Supervisor: Pratten, David Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Anthropology ; Social anthropology ; Africa ; Christianity and Christian spirituality ; youth ; Pentecostalism ; futures ; hope ; Nigeria ; fashion