Fieldwork in Religion, Vol 5, No 2 (2010)

Fieldworking’ Deliverance Rituals in a Liberian Pentecostal Ministry: The Surprising Benefits of Embracing your "Otherness" While Taking Part in Religious Performance

Gwendolyn Heaner
Issued Date: 27 Sep 2010


This paper describes fieldwork attempts to understand perceptions of the spirit world in one Liberian Pentecostal ministry, and the limitations in fully understanding and collecting data for such an ambiguous topic, when relying only on interviews and observations. Using only these methods, I was faced with a number of seeming contradictions between teachings and practices. By remaining flexible in my fieldwork methods, I found that taking advantage of my “otherness” – my status as a non born-again Christian – rather than being an obstacle to gaining access, was actually very useful, especially when I was surprisingly invited to be the subject of one of the ministry’s deliverance rituals. The reasons that I was allowed to take part in the performance and the performance itself gave me valuable data that could not have been acquired through any of my own questions or observations.

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DOI: 10.1558/firn.v5i2.193

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