In This Review

Performing Power in Nigeria: Identity, Politics, and Pentecostalism
Performing Power in Nigeria: Identity, Politics, and Pentecostalism
By Abimbola A. Adelakun
Cambridge University Press, 2021, 286 pp

With Pentecostalism as the fastest-growing religion in West Africa, the Pentecostal Church in Nigeria has become a wealthy and influential social actor. In her fine study of the dramaturgy of the church’s rites and rhetoric, Adelakun argues that the emphasis the church puts on affirming its social influence helps develop a narrative of Pentecostal believers as “people of power,” an identity that church members embrace. Drawing examples not only from the liturgy but also from Pentecostal films, plays, and novels in which individuals grapple with the devil successfully thanks to their faith, she shows that the church’s activities can be viewed as performances that embed the Pentecostal spiritual message in everyday practices; this is done in a way that confers a sense of agency on its members. An interesting final chapter recasts the argument in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic: Adelakun suggests that the movement has been put on the defensive by its evident inability to protect members from the disease.