This manuscript explores the dynamic between religion and rural-urban linkages in northeastern Madagascar. I find that church leaders have coalesced around two competing narratives of ancestors. Catholic churches see some types of migrant linkages (e.g., burial in the rural family tomb and participation in rural ancestral rituals) as being in line with Christian beliefs, while Protestant churches see these same activities as morally questionable or potentially satanic. To some degree Protestant migrants exert agency in the face of these religious teachings, and do not view their religion as an impediment to maintaining rural connections. However, quantitative analysis of rural-urban linkage behavior over a twelve-month period shows that Protestants have weaker rural ties compared to Catholics, even for behaviors that are not the focus of religious prohibitions. I offer several explanations for this finding. Protestant migrants are less motivated to invest in all types of rural linkages due to family conflicts after conversion, uncertainty about burial in the rural family tomb, reduced opportunities to develop affective ties with kin, and economic motivations to reduce rural demands on their urban wages.
Jesus for Zanzibar: Narratives of Pentecostal (Non-)Belonging, Islam, and Nation Hans Olsson offers an ethnographic account of the lived experience and socio-political significance of newly arriving Pentecostal Christians in the Muslim majority setting of Zanzibar. This work analyzes how a disputed political partnership between Zanzibar and Mainland Tanzania intersects with the construction of religious identities.
Undertaken at a time of political tensions, the case study of Zanzibar’s largest Pentecostal church, the City Christian Center, outlines religious belonging as relationally filtered in-between experiences of social insecurity, altered minority / majority positions, and spiritual powers. Hans Olsson shows that Pentecostal Christianity, as a signifier of (un)wanted social change, exemplifies contested processes of becoming in Zanzibar that capitalizes on, and creates meaning out of, religious difference and ambient political tensions.
This article offers a twofold analysis of the popularity of Cherif Ousmane Madani Häidara and the Muslim association Ansar Dine (founded by Haïdara in 1983) in the contemporary Malian Islamic sphere. The author initially observed signs in southwest Mali supporting the view that Häidara was more popular than neo-Hanbali reformist tendencies. In order to frame the debate in a self-critical way, however, the author later argues and elaborates that his perception of the unmatched popularity of Häidara and Ansar Dine in Mali possibly emanates from the persuasive arousal that he experienced as a crowd-fellow during the yearly Ansar Dine ‘pilgrimage’ of Maouloud in Bamako. Through this self-ethnography based on the phenomenology of a religious movement’s gathering, the article states that experiencing popularity is about persuasion. In this sociohistoric context of rivalry measuring popularity is above all speculative due to politics, media, and sensationalism.
This article aims to illustrate through a social narrative the role and function of the debtera and their affiliation with the sacred and the profane in the Christian Orthodox regions of Ethiopia today. The article argues that though the debtera are subject to moral opprobrium, they are able to breach both the sacred and the profane because of their close relationship to knowledge and money.
This article explores conflicts around noise and silence in Rwanda’s postgenocide religious soundscape. After the genocide, new Pentecostal (or abarokore) churches grew rapidly in the country and offered up noise and a specific understanding of praise and worship music (guhimbaza Imana) as important ways to enact healing. However, Catholics emphasised silence and viewed the new Pentecostal churches as distracting interlopers. Far from being trivial differences, I argue that these conflicts around sound hint at wider divides in Rwandan society and a worrying new convergence between religious and ethnic identity. Focusing on aural conflicts between Christian denominations can therefore help us gain a better sense of the limits of Pentecostal conversion. Instead of assuming that Pentecostals are necessarily ‘noisy’, I suggest we pay closer attention to the ways in which they may also cultivate silence, and how this relates to wider power structures.
Pluralism is a discernible feature of many modern states. However, among the variants of pluralism, religious pluralism appears to be the most intractable in many modern states because faiths and values underpin the conflicts that are associated with it. As one of the legacies of the Enlightenment, secularism is a normative prescription for managing religious pluralism. Nevertheless, while many African states profess to be secular, more often than not there are no concrete strategies to objectify the secular arrangement thereby provoking questions on the status quo. Such was the case with the 2015 Muslims’ protest of discrimination in the public basic and second cycles schools in Ghana. Through primary (interviews and archival and historical documents) and secondary data, this paper examines the protest in light of the secularist arrangement. It first reviews the contours of the secularist’s lenses. Second, it historicizes Muslim-Christian relations in Ghana. It also analyzes the checkered partnership between the state and the Christian missions in the provision of education. Moreover, it evaluates the debates that ensued and the ambivalent communiqué that the National Peace Council (NPC) issued. The paper concludes with a note that underscores the dynamics and tensions that characterize many plural societies in their attempt to objectify the secularist principle.