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Senior Research Seminar: Anna-Riikka Kauppinen

When Feb 23, 2018
from 04:15 PM to 06:00 PM
Where Edmund Leach Room Department of Social Anthropology Free School Lane, Cambridge
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Anna-Riikka Kauppinen, (Max-Cam Research Centre, University of Cambridge)

Prayer Theory of Value: ritual efficacy in Ghana’s new private sector

Christian ritual practice has become an integral aspect of organisational life in Ghanaian knowledge economy businesses. Situated in the capital Accra where Charismatic Pentecostalism has gained popularity since the past 25 years of political liberalisation and economic privatisation, this paper zooms into media and recruitment companies run by new middle-class entrepreneurs who fashion their businesses as “ministry.” They desire to experience intimacy with God as the leading force of their professional lives, which manifests in intense prayer sessions in boardrooms, self-conscious application of “Christian business ethics,” and quarterly fasting, that rhythms the annual business cycle. In dialogue with anthropological debates on ritual efficacy and the convergence of spirituality and corporate management, this paper discusses prayer and fasting as ‘formalised’ work, and unravels the multiplicity of value – economic, ethical, spiritual and cosmological – that these practices generate. While ritual participation can be efficacious in mediating commitment to Christian piety, I conclude by drawing attention to ethical tensions and specific forms of co-operation that ritual life in economic organisations entails. 

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