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.
Faith in African Lived Christianity – Bridging Anthropological and Theological Perspectives offers a comprehensive, empirically rich and interdisciplinary approach to the study of faith in African Christianity. The book brings together anthropology and theology in the study of how faith and religious experiences shape the understanding of social life in Africa. The volume is a collection of chapters by prominent Africanist theologians, anthropologists and social scientists, who take people’s faith as their starting point and analyze it in a contextually sensitive way. It covers discussions of positionality in the study of African Christianity, interdisciplinary methods and approaches and a number of case studies on political, social and ecological aspects of African Christian spirituality.
Locating Politics in Ethiopia's Irreecha Ritual Serawit Bekele Debele gives an account of politics and political processes in contemporary Ethiopia as manifested in the annual ritual performance. Mobilizing various sources such as archives, oral accounts, conversations, videos, newspapers, and personal observations, Debele critically analyses political processes and how they are experienced, made sense of and articulated across generational, educational, religious, gender and ethnic differences as well as political persuasions. Moreover, she engages Irreecha in relation to the hugely contested meaning making processes attached to the Thanksgiving ritual which has now become an integral part of Oromo national identity.
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 explores how the Nigerien intellectual and politician Boubou Hama (1906/09–1982) represented the relationship between Islamic and “traditional” educational ideals. Based on an understanding that Islamic education was closely linked to the historical dissemination and establishment of Islam, Hama advanced a particular interpretation of the reception and circulation of Muslim knowledge in West Africa. He argued that, first, the presence of Islam should be understood in its African historical context; second, that the foundations of African culture were equally “traditional” and Islamic; and third, that the forms of education that had shaped such culture could be used as the basis for a political plan of development. By doing so, Hama asserted that just as Islam was crucial to the continent’s history, it was a central part of Africa’s engagement with the wider world.
In West Africa, Muslim learning has historically been shaped by two key engagements: the participation in wider Islamic debates and the co-existence with non-Muslims. In the twentieth and twenty-first century, Islamic education in West Africa was transformed by the imposition of the secular state and Western education. But as Muslims encountered secularism and Christianity, they also increasingly drew on pedagogies that emanated from Middle Eastern and Asian Islam. The articles in this Special Issue illustrate that as Islamic scholars and leaders from different backgrounds engaged simultaneously with the diversity of global Islam and the growing presence of secular and Christian institutions, they developed a multiplicity of educational practices and visions. Thus learning to be Muslim in West Africa reflects both the engagement with Islamic discourse and debates about the boundaries of Islam.