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‘A Light-Hearted Bunch of Ladies': Gendered Power and Irreverent Piety in the Ghanaian Methodist Diaspora

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Abstract

This article explores the making of gendered and religious identities among a group of Ghanaian Methodist women in London by bringing to the fore the complex and irreverent ways in which the women of Susanna Wesley Mission Auxiliary (SUWMA) negotiate their recognition within the predominantly patriarchal settings of the Methodist Church. If, on the one hand, the association and its members conform to Christian values and widely accepted Ghanaian constructions of womanhood, on the other hand, flouting expectations of pious femininity, they claim a unique, elevated position within the church. Their transgressive hedonism can thus be read as a performative assertion of their claims to respect, recognition and leadership beyond the narrow parameters of gendered modesty. Many of the women are senior church leaders and respected members of the diaspora. All are successful professional career women and economically independent. Their association is simultaneously about promoting the Christian faith while being recognized as successful, cosmopolitan, glamorous middle-class women. It is this duality which the present article highlights by showing how members of the association negotiate and construct their subjectivities both within the Methodist Church and the Ghanaian diaspora, while they also negotiate their relationship with the Methodist Church in Ghana.
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)200-223
Number of pages24
JournalAfrica
Volume80
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2010

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