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A Prophetic Trajectory

Ideologies of Place, Time and Belonging in an Angolan Religious Movement

Ruy Llera Blanes

248 pages, 20 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78238-272-0 $90.00/£64.00 Hb Published (May 2014)

eISBN 978-1-78238-273-7 eBook

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‘The author did a wonderful job of research. The book is self-explanatory and informing not only about Angola but also about the existence of other churches and their practices amidst political manipulations and turmoil.” · African Studies Quarterly

“For scholars of religion in Europe Blanes’s ultimate focus on the Angolan diaspora happily presents his strongest point of argument. Colonial and postcolonial history is brought together into a coherent argument through narrative reconstructions and ideologies of remembrance: more studies of this kind are needed to help place Europe’s colonial legacy into a web of postcolonial migration, ‘southern’ agency and cultural/religious dynamics.” · Journal of Religion

“…the current emphasis on the study of Pentecostal churches is clouding our understanding of the vast variations of African Christianities with their specific theologies, institutional structures and ways of dealing with modernisation, migration and global awareness. Blanes [approaches this problem]… in an exemplary manner with a—most welcome—example from the Lusophone world. He thereby engages fruitfully with such diverse academic fields as narrative theory, postcolonial studies, world Christianity and studies in medialisation… more studies of this kind are needed to help place Europe’s colonial legacy into a web of postcolonial migration, ‘southern’ agency and cultural/religious dynamics.” · Journal of Religion in Europe

“…a welcome and valuable study of contemporary Christianity and the circulation of religion and culture. It also adds to our crystallizing emphasis on history and memory as resources and constructions rather than sheer 'facts'.” · Anthropology Review Database

“Blanes’ multi-sited ethnographic-cum-historical study of a prominent Christian prophetic church of Angolan origin is an excellent piece of scholarship, and makes a unique contribution to the literature on Christianity in Africa and on African Christianity in Europe. More than other scholars in the emerging anthropology of Christianity, Blanes gives detailed attention to the interlocking of temporal and spatial dimensions in the context of diasporic religion and religious self-identification.” · Thomas Kirsch, University of Konstanz


Combining ethnographic and historical research conducted in Angola, Portugal, and the United Kingdom, A Prophetic Trajectory tells the story of Simão Toko, the founder and leader of one of the most important contemporary Angolan religious movements. The book explains the historical, ethnic, spiritual, and identity transformations observed within the movement, and debates the politics of remembrance and heritage left behind after Toko’s passing in 1984. Ultimately, it questions the categories of prophetism and charisma, as well as the intersections between mobility, memory, and belonging in the Atlantic Lusophone sphere.

Ruy Llera Blanes is an anthropologist and currently Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Bergen, Norway, and Associate Researcher at the Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lisbon, Portugal. He has published articles in several international journals, and co-edited Encounters of Body and Soul in Contemporary Religiosity (2011, Berghahn, with Anna Fedele) and The Social Life of Spirits (2013, Univ. Chicago Press, with Diana Espírito Santo). He is currently co-editor of the journal Advances in Research: Religion and Society, published by Berghahn.

Subject: Religion General Anthropology
Area: Africa


List of Illustrations

Introduction: prophetic territories and temporalities


Chapter 1. Trajectories: a prophetic biography, part I
Chapter 2. Trajectories: a prophetic biography, part II


Chapter 3. Transmission: word, action and mediation
Chapter 4. Trepidation: spirits, memories and disputed heritage
Chapter 5. Transcendence: Tokoist diasporas


Primary sources

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