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On spiritual nosologies and the amplification of efficacy : translation and borrowing in Pentecostal healing


Krause,  Kristine
Socio-Cultural Diversity, MPI for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Max Planck Society;

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Krause, K. (2011). On spiritual nosologies and the amplification of efficacy: translation and borrowing in Pentecostal healing. Talk presented at Medical Diversity and its Spaces. Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity. Göttingen. 2011-03-28 - 2011-03-29.

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Based on research with Pentecostal practitioners and patients in Ghana, London and Berlin, I will engage in this paper with two themes of the conference, innovation and borrowing, by examining healing practices within global Pentecostal geographies and personal intimate spaces. By juxtaposing these two spatial dimensions, I refer to two central promises of charismatic Christianity: the incorporation of the believer into a globe spanning Christendom, and the intimate encounter with God. I argue that the condition for this simultaneous construction of the universal and the personal within Pentecostal healing requires constant acts of innovation which are achieved through translating and borrowing from other therapeutic spheres, such as biomedical knowledge. Put differently, in the paper I explore how specific elements of Pentecostal practice become kind of standardized through unacknowledged borrowing from biomedical practice, and how biomedical procedures are spiritualised as personal points of contact with God. Innovation and borrowing are thus both understood as acts of translation, in which epistemic figures and ways of doing things are transferred from one realm of practice to another in order to achieve standardization or personalisation. Although the different realms of practice, in this case biomedicine and Christian charismatic healing, appear to be intertwined in the actual therapeutic enactment, they eventually remain separated, thereby amplifying their respective efficacy.