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Commodities and the Power of Prayer: Pentecostalist Attitudes Towards Consumption in Contemporary Ghana



This article addresses the phenomenal success of pentecostalism, a global religious movement par excellence, throughout postcolonial Africa. Investigating pentecostalist views of and attitudes towards commodities in southern Ghana, the article shows that pentecostalists represent the modern global economy as enchanted and themselves as agents of disenchantment: only through prayer may commodities cease to act as ‘fetishes’ which threaten the personal integrity and identity of their owners. Pentecostalism creates modern consumers through a ritual of prayer, which helps them handle globalization and control foreign commodities in such a way that they can be consumed without danger. Through prayer, commodities cease to possess their owners; the latter are rather enabled to possess the former. Pentecostalism engages in globalization by enabling its members to consume products from the global market and by offering its followers fixed orientation points and a well-delimited moral universe within globalization's unsettling flows.