Research Culture Seminar: Dr Abel Ugba - 'We care, but only God heals'

Part of our weekly Research Culture Seminar series, this presentation by Dr Abel Ugba will introduce ongoing research on the health and healing practices of African Pentecostals in London.


'We care, but only God heals': interrogating the health and healing narratives of Britain's African Pentecostals


This presentation introduces ongoing research on the health and healing practices of African Pentecostals in London. It is part of a larger transnational project focussing on African Pentecostals in Africa and the diaspora.

The research interrogates extant interpretations of the health and healing practices of African Pentecostals that focus disproportionately on material factors. It proposes that external factors alone do not fully explain the dramatic transformations in contemporary practice of divine healing by African Pentecostals. It therefore prioritises explanatory frameworks that focus on the substance of beliefs and on the internal dynamics within specific groups and the broader New Christian Movement in Africa and the diaspora that have inspired dramatic healing experimentations and a radical departure from orthodoxy. As Vertovec (2000: 280) contends, ‘the study of diasporas and their modes of adaptation can give us insights into general patterns of religious transformation’. By examining the  health and healing practices of African Pentecostals the Greater London, this research illuminates African Pentecostalism as a ‘faith which is largely influenced by…context.’ (Vertovic, ibid). The research focuses on two churches in London and empirical data is sourced through semi-structured interviews with church officials and members, ethnographic observations and an analysis of church artefacts, including printed publications, sermon, websites and various social media.

This presentation will highlight the contexts of the research and the data-gathering experiences of the researchers. It will also touch on some of the themes that are beginning to emerge from interviews with church members.

Speaker biography

Dr Abel Ugba is a Teaching Fellow in the School of Sociology and Social Policy. He is a sociologist and media scholar. He is interested in the dynamics of religiosity in immigration contexts and in immigrants’ engagement with the media. He has studied the manifestations of Pentecostalism among Europe's new African diasporas, focusing on the implications of religiosity for self-definition and the construction of social boundaries and commonalities in a precarious immigration context.

More recently, his research has focused on media and religion and the appropriation of new media by immigrants and ethnic minorities to self-represent and self-define. He has researched media representation of Black Majority Churches in the UK and the UK media portrayal of religion and ethnicity in sports. He is currently leading the UK arm of a transnational project on the health and healing practices of African Pentecostals in Uganda, Kenya, South Africa and the UK.


There is no need to register for this event; all are welcome - please just turn up on the day. Please note there is limited capacity in the seminar room and spaces will be available on a first-come first-served basis.

Research Culture Seminar Series

These seminars, organised by the School of Sociology and Social Policy (SSP), generally take place every Wednesday in term time, from 12 - 1.30pm in Room 12.21/12.25 on Level 12 of the Social Sciences Building. Please check back on the website event listings for details of future seminars. Details are also emailed out to current students and staff.

If you have any enquiries about this seminar series, please contact Tanisa at with the subject "Enquiry: Research Culture Seminar Series".