Adedamola Osinulu

Faculty / Academic Staff
African Studies (Religion/Urban Studies)
Intellectual Biography: 

My work sits at the intersection of spatial theory, urban studies, the study of culture, and religious studies. After growing up in Nigeria, I earned a bachelors degree in Architecture from the University of Houston and practiced architecture in a variety of American cities for five years. I earned a doctorate in Culture and Performance from UCLA's Department of World Arts and Cultures in 2011. I am interested in the social spaces of African cities. This research is informed by two ongoing and related processes, both of which could inform how we think about the emergence of theory from the global south. The first is the increasing urbanization of the African continent. Cairo, Lagos, and Kinshasa continue their unrelenting growth as Africa's megacities, while the continent's intermediate cities (with populations of less than 500,000) have become the sites of the greatest rates of urban growth. African cities, because of the way they have been simultaneously shaped by official governmental policies and informal social agglomerations, present alternative models to the paradigmatic western cities of urban studies. The second ongoing trend that interests is the shift in Christianity's population towards the global south. There has been a 60-fold increase in the number of Christians on the continent from 9 million in 1910 to 516 million in 2010, by far the most rapid growth rate in the world. Most recently, this growth has been spearheaded by the advent of Pentecostal Christianity. African Christianity, because of the way its adherents have responded to indigenous cosmologies and their own material conditions, has raised both theological and sociological challenges to Eurocentric understandings of Christianity.

The Nigerian city of Lagos has been my primary research site. By situating my work there, I am of course motivated by my personal connections to the city, but I am also informed by the city’s location at the nexus of the two trends I mentioned above – increasing urbanization and unrelenting religiosity. My ongoing book project is based on fieldwork conducted in the city and at three massive Pentecostal camps on the outskirts of the city. These sites are operated by three of the largest Pentecostal groups in the region. By positing a relationship between the spatial practices of the city and ritual practices of Pentecostals, I develop various facets of what I call “Pentecostal Space”. For the duration of this workshop, I intend to work on a book chapter about the Nigerian-founded group Winners' Chapel International and its 560-acre campus which it calls “Canaanland.” I will be connecting Lagos's role as a transnational city to this organization's representation of itself as a transnational body and, further, I will look at how Canaanland helps it achieve this goal. This work, I hope, will help us think through how Africans exchange ideas across national borders with other Africans, separate and distinct from the larger flows of globalization. I will be positing that African Pentecostals are uniquely motivated to spread their message to other Africans because of a belief in a shared heritage and common postcolonial experiences.

Presentation Title: 
The Newly Promised Land: Transnational Pentecostal Space in Lagos
Ofeimun, Odia. 2007. “Imagination and the City.” In Lagos: A City at Work, edited by Olakunle Tejuoso, Weyinmi Atigbi, Ololade Bamidele, and Demola Ogunajo. Lagos: Glendora Books. Wariboko, Nimi. 2012. The Pentecostal Principle: Ethical Methodology in New Spirit. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans.