Centre for Theology and Religious Studies

The Joint Faculties of Humanities and Theology | Lund University


Born 1980, BA in Religious Science, Lund University and MA in African Studies, University of Copenhagen.
Since 2011, doctoral student in Mission Studies and Ecumenics.

My scholarly interest lies in the focal point between religion, politics and cultural change. Initially focusing on Christian-Muslim relations in the Middle East I later shifted to the context of East Africa and Tanzania.
Focusing mainly on the politisation of inter-religious institutions, I recently focused more on the socio-political ramifications of charismatic Christian and Muslim groups.

My Phd dissertation deals with the presence of Pentecostal mission in the pre-dominantly Muslim setting of Zanzibar. The research focuses on how Pentecostal identity is coined in individuals every-day life marked by religious pluralism, immigration and to a certain degree also sociocultural alienation.


About the research

My research addresses how Pentecostal Christianity is reflected and negotiated in the Muslim dominated context of Zanzibar, Tanzania. Here, many Pen-tecostals face a reality marked by alienation, not merely due to that they are Christians in a predominant Muslim setting, but because they are migrants from mainland Tanzania to look for a more prosperous life.

With focus put on Zanzibar’s largest and probably most vivid Pentecostal congregation, the study approaches Pentecostalism as the on-going production and maintenance of a discursive practice. In a society increasingly marked by inter-religious and sociopolitical contestations this include an assessment of grassroots Pentecostals’ responses to violence directed towards Christian church and how Pentecostal enchanted epistemologies address the presence of evil.

Via ethnographic methods a comparative hermeneutic reading of Pentecostal life-narratives is used in order to situate a Pentecostal discourse vis-a-vis Zanzibar’s sociocultural and socio-political context. This highlights how adherence to a Pentecostal narrative works as alternative sites of belonging that empowers migrant Christians to a life in opposition and conflict to local social norms and behaviour. The interplay between Pentecostal identity, Zanzibar’s sociocultural context and migration hence opens up the floor for situated understandings on the production of Pentecostal cultures and how Pentecostal churches relate to religious diversity and Islam.

Hans Olsson

Former employee at Centre for Theology and Religious Studies.

Hans Olsson can no longer be reached through the department/unit.