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Christianity, Generation and Narrative: Religious Conversion and Change in Sidama, Ethiopia, 1974–2012
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Theology, Department of Theology. (World Christianity and Interreligious Studies)
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This study presents narratives concerning religious conversion and change in Evangelical-Pentecostal Christian communities in the Sidama zone, Southern Ethiopia. The study is based on narrative data collected through field research, which mainly focuses on the period 1974–2012. This data is supplemented with previous research and unpublished sources.

The study discusses how narratives about religious conversion and change intersect with transformations in Ethiopian society during the period.  It describes and analyses narratives in order to show that individual narratives are part of collective stories. These stories become formative for common experiences and provide a distinct group identity as part of a social generation.

The Ethiopian revolution in 1974 was a major turning point. The encounter with the revolutionary state resulted in narratives about challenges and persecution. On the other hand, this situation became the setting for mobility and connections, and created a communal identity between Christians.

The stories about the period after the revolution in 1974 are conveyed in the present. After 1991, political transitions in Ethiopia created a new turning point which influenced narratives about religious conversion and change. The Christian communities experienced religious freedom and revitalisation, leading to growth and expansion. But the religious changes also led to competition and differences in and between Evangelical-Pentecostal communities. The changes created negotiation internally in Christian communities about denominational identities and about religious innovations. This setting intersected with an increase of new members who belonged to a younger emerging generation. This sets the study on the boundaries between generations, and where new narratives are renegotiated in the context of social change.

The thesis consists of three parts; the first gives the reader an introduction to the research context of the study, a brief historical background and a discussion of methodology. The second part focuses on the period after the Ethiopian revolution in 1974. The last part discusses religious change in the Christian communities after the political transition in 1991, and into present.


Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Department of Theology, Uppsala University , 2016. , 278 p.
Studia Missionalia Svecana, ISSN 1404-9503 ; 116
Keyword [en]
Christianity in Ethiopia, Conversion Narratives, Religious Change, Modernity, Social Generation, Sidama, SNNPRS, Southern Ethiopia
National Category
Religious Studies
Research subject
Studies of Missions
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-302725ISBN: 978-91-506-2594-3OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-302725DiVA: diva2:968035
Public defence
2016-10-28, Geijersalen, Thunbergsvägen 3H, Hus 6, Uppsala, 10:15 (English)
Available from: 2016-10-06 Created: 2016-09-08 Last updated: 2016-10-06

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