2013 GloPent Conference Report
Over 90 participants from 17 countries and three continents convened in Heidelberg for the seventh international and interdisciplinary conference of the European Research Network on Global Pentecostalism (GloPent) on 1 and 2 February 2013.
With its theme “Pentecostalism and Politics” the conference addressed an urgent and controversial issue connected to the rise of Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity worldwide. What kind of impact does this growth have on governance, development, and public debates? Are Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians conservative by default or can they be found on all sides of the political spectrum? How have politicians in Africa, Asia and the Americas accommodated the increased presence of Pentecostalism in the public sphere? The conference sought to address these questions while aiming to get a better sense of the intricate relation between Pentecostalism and the political that does not rely on a preconceived dichotomy between an a-political sphere of religion and a narrowly defined sense of (secular) politics.
The keynote addresses by Timothy Steigenga, Ruth Marshall, Luke Bretherton, and Gastón Espinosa explored the conference theme from the vantage point of political science, religious studies, and theology, giving insight into the many facets of Pentecostalism and politics in Latin America (Steigenga), Africa (Marshall) and the USA (Espinosa). The respondents Rudolf von Sinner, Andreas Heuser, Allan Anderson, and Jan Stieverman offered concise summaries and critiques from their own expertise of Pentecostal politics, which helped to frame the plenary debates.
In addition to the keynotes, the programme included 30 paper presentations in parallel sessions, which related to the overall theme of the conference or presented current research activities. Offering a forum for upcoming researchers to present and discuss their findings is one of the major interests of the regular GloPent conferences.
The active participation of scholars in the plenary discussions as well as the paper workshops has once more demonstrated the vibrancy and quality of academic research on Pentecostal and Charismatic movements across the disciplines. Selected papers from the plenary and the parallel sessions will be published in PentecoStudies.
The next GloPent conference will be held 2014 at the University of Birmingham.