Powerful pictures: Popular protestant aesthetics in Southern Ghana

B. Meyer

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


If images are life-forms, and objects are the body they animate, then media are the habitats or ecosystems in which pictures become alive. (Mitchell 2005: 198)Situated in an approach of religion in Africa that stresses the need to move beyond essentializing oppositions of Africa and the West, this article focuses on the Christian popular culture that has emerged in Ghana in the aftermath of democratization, enabling the unprecedented public presence of Christianity, in particular Pentecostal-Charismatic Churches, in the public sphere. Analysis of this Christian popular culture compels us to acknowledge the relevance of the material dimension of the Christian imagination, and, in so doing, to address the genesis of a Christian environment with powerful pictures that involve people into a particular religious aesthetics. My key concern is to show how Christian pictures, though thriving through modern possibilities of reproduction, ultimately refuse to appear as "mere" representations and tend to retain the somewhat excessive potential to partially merge with the divine - and above all satanic - power which they depict, calling for adequate action.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-110
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Religion
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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