Religious Studies and Transcultural Studies: Revealing a Cosmos Not Known Before?
Drawing on our research on Pentecostal Christianity in Singapore, the article introduces the transcultural approach and discusses its possible contributions to the academic study of religions. After a short overview of the history of the discipline, the article introduces our understanding of the transcultural approach and a discussion of similar or related approaches in Religious Studies, which emphasize relationality and polyvocality in the study of religious practices and discourses. The final section of the article is devoted to two case studies that demonstrate the fruitfulness of adopting a transcultural approach to our research material. The first example contests the prevalent narrative of the Azusa Street Revival (1906–1909) as the birth of Pentecostalism and an inherently American religious phenomenon, which was subsequently exported from the US to the rest of the world. The second example discusses Singaporean Pentecostal missionary narratives and genealogies of small group practice, which decentre North America, Europe, and the North Atlantic as focal points of the religious world map.
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