Enchanted Calvinism

Enchanted Calvinism

Labor Migration, Afflicting Spirits, and Christian Therapy in the Presbyterian Church of Ghana

Adam Mohr

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Enchanted Calvinism's surprising central proposition is that Ghanaian Presbyterian communities have become more enchanted -- i.e., attuned to spiritual explanations of and remedies for suffering -- as they have become more integrated into capitalist modes of production.
Enchanted Calvinism's central proposition is that Ghanaian Presbyterian communities, both past and present, have become more enchanted -- more attuned to spiritual explanations of and remedies for suffering -- as they have become integrated into capitalist modes of production. The author draws on a Weberian concept of religious enchantment to analyze the phenomena of spiritual affliction and spiritual healing within the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, particularly under the conditions of labor migration: first, in the early twentieth century during the cocoa boom in Ghana and, second, at the turn of the twenty-first century in their migration from Ghana to North America.
Relying on extensive archival research, oral interviews, and participant-observation conducted in North America, Europe, and West Africa, this study demonstrates that the more these Ghanaian Calvinists became dependent on capitalist modes of production, the more enchanted their lives and, subsequently, their church became, although in different ways within these two migrations. One striking pattern that has emerged among Ghanaian Presbyterian labor migrants in North America, for example, is a radical shift in gendered healing practices, where women have become prominent healers while a significant number of men have become spirit-possessed.

Adam Mohr is Senior Writing Fellow in Anthropology in the Critical Writing Program at the University of Pennsylvania.

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Table of Contents

The Disenchantment of Ghana's Basel Mission, 1828-1918
Enchanted Competition for the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, 1918-60s
The Enchantment of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, 1960-2010
The School of Deliverance and the Enchantment of the Ghanaian Presbyterian Churches in North America
The Enchantment of the United Ghanaian Community Church, Philadelphia
Gendered Transformations of Enchanted Calvinism in the Ghanaian Presbyterian Diaspora
Appendix: Deliverance Questionnaire


Adam Mohr has through Enchanted Calvinism drawn attention to some of the important themes in Christianity that is authentically African and some of the tensions that emerged as western missionaries tried virtually to duplicate their forms of rational and cerebral Christianity within African contexts like Ghana. JOURNAL OF ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY

[A] powerful contribution to Africanist scholarship. AMERICAN ETHNOLOGIST

Adam Mohr is without doubt one of the most fascinating new scholars of historical anthropology working in West Africa and the United States today, and his work -- which resides at the dynamic intersection of medical anthropology, colonial and postcolonial diaspora studies, and the global history of religion -- is truly original and Atlantic in scope. As I read Dr. Mohr's book, I am myself enchanted by his attention to detail, his nuance and subtlety, and the brilliance with which he pulls together lives and histories almost one hundred and fifty years apart. --Benjamin N. Lawrance, the Hon. Barber B. Conable Jr. Endowed Chair in International Studies, Rochester Institute of Technology

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