Erica Ramirez is director of applied research at Auburn Seminary in Manhattan. She is a Senior Fellow of the Louisville Institute. A fifth generation Texan, and third generation Pentecostal, Erica completed her doctoral work in sociology of religion at Drew Theological School in 2019. Her forthcoming book uses critical theory to read the rise of early American Pentecostalism as a sacred carnivalesque, and brings together Mikhail Bakhtin’s carnival theory, Pierre Bourdieu’s field theory, and Julia Kristeva’s linguistic theories. She leads Auburn’s Future of Democraciescampaign, and has written about Pentecostals for The Washington Post and Religion News Service.
Together, we hope this symposium opens up new horizons of discourse for political theology. Given the global reach of Pentecostals and Charismatics, our inquiry into American Pentecostal and charismatic networks is but a beginning.
Where these elements at Azusa Street helped believers create a sacred liminality that transcended racist law, in Pentecostalism today the Holy Spirit is often co-opted to anoint pastors as sovereigns who occupy states of exception as God’s anointed.
While some white American converts to Pentecostalism in the early 1900s were experiencing a resurgence of Jeffersonian populism of that era, Mexican nationals were living through revolutionary upheaval of their own. And like the older populism of American evangelical lines, the Mexican revolution’s radical populism was also agrarian, influenced by Jacobinism, and hostile to establishment elites.