Award Date: May 2010
Professor and Chair of Anthropology, Karen Brison, has been awarded a grant from the University of Southern California (USC) in the amount of $96,983. This is a highly competitive award under USC's Pentecostal and Charismatic Research Initiative (PCRI) with nearly 500 letters of intent received in response to the RFP, of which 100 applicants were invited to proceed with a full proposal -- from that select group, Dr. Brison was one of only 16 awardees. This initiative, funded by the John Templeton Foundation, provides a scholarly framework to investigate Pentecostalism and the various charismatic renewal movements that have emerged in Roman Catholicism, various Orthodox traditions, and mainline Protestantism. The program provides $3.5 million in grants for research centers and individual scholars to conduct research in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the former Soviet Union. In addition, PCRI supports the development of an online archive and research projects on Pentecostal and charismatic Christianity in Los Angeles.
The proposed research examines the participation of Fijian Pentecostals in global networks by studying Fijian missionaries in Tanzania and Rwanda and working with diaspora communities in the UK, and in the US. A second focus will be on missionaries from African and Korean independent churches working in Fiji, and on the interaction of Pentecostals from around the world in conferences in Fiji. Preliminary research indicates that Fijian independent churches frequently partner with independent churches elsewhere in the global south to create a global community based on ideas perceived to contrast with the materialistic focus of Euro-Americans. Global middle class cosmopolitan culture privileges individual choice and self-cultivation through consumption. In contrast, preliminary research indicates that Pentecostal cosmopolitanism emphasizes participation in a world community working toward spiritual, material, relational, and physical prosperity for all. The proposed project will examine ideas about self and community formed in partnerships between churches in the global south to assess the degree to which such churches are constructing an alternative global community with potential to shape global Christianity.