The paper explores two opposing yet simultaneous forces of aesthetics as transformative and constitutive force of Muslim identity politics, religiosity and cultural style in Cape Town The ethnography focuses on Muslim artists in Cape Town, namely Thania Petersen and twin brothers Hasan and Husain Essop, whose artworks embody a ‘social drama’ of a lived experience of Muslims’ ongoing individual and collective active engagement with and appropriation of the plurality of competing discourses that are religious and secular, local and global. The discussion unpacks the ways in which the artworks of Petersen and the Essop brothers serve as a transformative force and as a politic of authenticity to Muslim identity, religiosity, and cultural style. The paper offers an appreciative but critical reading of Talal Asad’s idea of an anthropology of Islam. Taking into consideration the incommensurable diversity and internal contradiction that could be conceived as Islamic discursive traditions, this paper argues that the aesthetics of Muslimness is what inspires coherence within and across diverse, contradictory Islamic traditions.
The use of the mass media has become a contemporary and fast-growing religious phenomenon within Pentecostal and charismatic churches. By drawing implications on the use of modern media technologies, this article presents a popular case of a Charismatic church in Ghana and shows how the idea of branding evolves around the use of the mass media. This article argues that the branding of the leaders’ personality and the church is a marketing strategy aimed at attracting more people into the church.
The Jbala region in northern Morocco is known for an enormous number of Sufi lodges, shrines of local saints, and the cults of those saints. However, this topic has entirely escaped the attention of modern scholars. This paper focuses on the ziyara, or tradition of pilgrimage to a shrine of a saint, connecting it to the debate on place and space on the one hand, and identity studies on the other. Using a classical ethnographic approach, I analyze one such pilgrimage that took place in 2018, in which I was invited to participate as a guest,. In this paper I understand pilgrimage as a communal spiritual journey and analyze the roles the collective and individual play in it, as well as how and by what means the participants cocreate and experience constructs of place and space.
Christian churches are not abstract or ethereal institutions; they impact people’s daily decisions, weekly rhythms, and major life choices. This paper explores the continued importance of Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Anglican church membership for East African women. While much recent scholarship on Christianity in Africa has emphasized the rising prominence of Pentecostalism, I argue that historic, mission-founded churches continue to represent important sources of community formation and support for congregations. Using oral interviews with rural and urban women in Nairobi and northern Tanzania, I explore the ways churches can connect disparate populations through resource (re)distribution and shared religious aesthetic experiences. Moving below the level of church institutions, I focus on the lived experiences and motivations of everyday congregants who invest in religious communities for a range of material, interpersonal, and emotional reasons that, taken together, help us understand the ongoing importance of mainline churches in East Africa.