Becoming the Temple Of God
: Femininity construction in West African Pentecostal churches in the UK

  • Mabel Alkali

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis builds on the growing body of work on gender within African Pentecostalism, by attending to the question of how femininity is constructed within African Pentecostal churches (APCs) of West African background in the UK. Following on from the question of how femininity is constructed within APCs and by women that attend APCs, the use and interpretation of the Bible to construct ideas about holiness and its relatedness to femininity are also examined. This thesis is original in that it adopts an interdisciplinary approach by using sociological feminist, womanist, and theological lenses to examine femininity construction and gender relations within APCs. Using qualitative research method of semi structured conversational interviews this thesis examines the narratives and theological hermeneutics of 30 women from African Pentecostal churches across the UK. Thematic and narrative analysis were used in interpreting and analysing the interview data.
Following three literature chapters that examine the concepts of femininity, gender, and holiness within African diaspora Pentecostalism and in Britain. This thesis locates the importance of African cultures, secular culture, language, and narratives in the construction of gender roles and ideal femininity in APCs. This shows that Contrary to the popular notion that the Church is a rigid institution and quite separate from the secular world, religion is fluid as it converses with local (African & church cultures) and secular culture in the way it influences how women in this study construct femininity. This thesis finds that femininity in African Pentecostal churches is constructed through a narrative of strong and independent Christian womanhood. This narrative as articulated by the women in this research is constructed and performed through a fusion of postfeminist, neoliberal and womanist reading and understandings of the Bible.
This thesis makes an original contribution by examining women’s articulation of femininity in APCs of West African background in the UK and by exploring their lived experiences, their use of African cultures, postfeminist, neoliberal and womanist lenses in interpreting the Bible to construct femininity.
Date of Award2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Coventry University
SupervisorKristin Aune (Supervisor), Chris Shannahan (Supervisor), Stephanie Denning (Supervisor) & Nella van den Brandt (Supervisor)

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