Kenyan Pentecostals between ‘Home’, London, and the Kingdom of God December 2013 – December 2016


This project examines issues of migrant identification and incorporation among Kenyan Pentecostals in London through the lens of religion. It takes the following incongruities in perspective as a departure point: are Kenyan Pentecostals in London ethnically encapsulated ‘economic migrants’ whose ‘home’ is Kenya, or are they Christians on a religious mission from God to reclaim the United Kingdom, who engage with people as brothers and sisters in Christ and envision their ultimate home in the ‘Kingdom of God’? In doing so, the project explores how the migratory experiences of Kenyans articulate with their religious identities and affiliations. At the same time, it is interested in the churches migrant Kenyans have founded in London, which, in becoming UK-registered charities, have ostensibly claimed a role in the wider society at a time of ongoing austerity. How do these self-identified multicultural churches define ‘civic’ and ‘social engagement’ and what forms does it take? The project pays particular attention to place-making practices as Kenyan Pentecostals seek to emplace themselves locally and transnationally. The project will contribute to debates on migration, religion, and (Christian) citizenship, and advance our understanding of the relationship between faith, belonging, and (sub)urbanism.

Principal Investigator

Leslie Fesenmyer


Economic and Social Research Council

News & Media

Reverse missionizing: Migration, Christianity, and civic engagement in London
Blog | COMPAS Communications

Kenyan Pentecostals in London: Reflections on religion and migration
Blog | COMPAS Communications

Reflections on African Pentecostals in London and the ‘political’
Blog | COMPAS Communications

Is ‘resilience’ a panacea?
Blog | COMPAS Communications

‘Living as Londoners do’: Cohesion, contradictions, and (religious) difference
Blog | COMPAS Communications

Belonging in the era of Brexit
Blog | COMPAS Communications

African-initiated Pentecostal churches are on the rise in the UK – what role do they seek to play in wider society?
LSE Religion & the Public Sphere Blog | Leslie Fesenmyer | 23/11/2016




CitiesCivil SocietyDiasporaNetworksReligion




The project engages with theories of migrant identification and incorporation; geographic ‘scales’ and multi-scalar approaches; notions of emplacement and place-making; and studies of Pentecostalism in Africa and the African diaspora.


This ethnographic project has four main field ‘sites’: Kenyan-initiated Pentecostal churches in East London; their social and civic engagement activities; texts and recordings of church services, conferences, events, and so on; and the wider communities where the churches are located in East London (e.g., non-Pentecostal faith leaders, community-based organisations, and council staff). Methods include semi-structured, open-ended interviews, participant observation, textual analysis, and attention to the material and aesthetic aspects of the churches and Pentecostal religious life.


African Pentecostal Churches in East London
Reports | Leslie Fesenmyer | 2017

(Accepted) Bringing the Kingdom to the city: Mission as place-making practice among Kenyan Pentecostals in London, Special issue: City and Society

Fesenmyer, L. (2015) ‘Ambitious cultural polyglots: Kenyan Pentecostals in London‘ in Sigona, N., Gamlen, A., Liberatore, G., and Neveu Kringelbach, H. (eds.) Diasporas Reimagined: Spaces, Practices and Belonging, Oxford Diasporas Programme, International Migration Institute, Oxford


The project includes several events intended to disseminate the findings and raise issues for further study among research participants, academic colleagues, practitioners, and policymakers.

In search of common ground: Towards a dialogue between the anthropology of Christianity and Islam
Event | 22-23/09/2016

Religion, Mobility and Urban Change in Britain and France Today
Event | 24/11/2016