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Old Practices and New Perspectives
In Moroccan Female Religious Agents: Old Practices and New Perspectives, Ouguir studies Moroccan female religious agents in particular historical women saints and Sufis, the way they constructed powerful saintly personalities that challenged the dominant conventional norms, and the way they are received by venerators and feminist Islamist activists of modern Morocco.

Through hagiographic and oral narratives, Ouguir examines the techniques religious women followed to achieve ethical self-formation and strong religious personalities that promoted them to leadership. She also examined the venerators’, murshidᾱt and Islamist feminists’ reception of women saints in their discourses. Ouguir states convincingly that Moroccan religious women agents in both Morocco’s past and present are to be highlighted for broader discourses on Muslim women and feminism.

Abstract

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.

In: Journal of Religion in Africa
In 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.
Studies on Diplomacy and Diplomatics
Mamluk Cairo, a Crossroads for Embassies offers an up-to-date insight into the diplomacy and diplomatics of the Mamluk sultanate with Muslim and non-Muslim powers. This rich volume covers the whole chronological span of the sultanate as well as the various areas of the diplomatic relations established by (or with) the Mamluk sultanate. Twenty-six essays are divided in geographical sections that broadly respect the political division of the world as the Mamluk chancery perceived it. In addition, two introductory essays provide the present stage of research in the fields of, respectively, diplomatics and diplomacy. With contributions by Frédéric Bauden, Lotfi Ben Miled, Michele Bernardini, Bárbara Boloix Gallardo, Anne F. Broadbridge, Mounira Chapoutot-Remadi, Stephan Conermann, Nicholas Coureas, Malika Dekkiche, Rémi Dewière, Kristof D’hulster, Marie Favereau, Gladys Frantz-Murphy, Yehoshua Frenkel, Hend Gilli-Elewy, Ludvik Kalus, Anna Kollatz, Julien Loiseau, Maria Filomena Lopes de Barros, John L. Meloy, Pierre Moukarzel, Lucian Reinfandt, Alessandro Rizzo, Éric Vallet, Valentina Vezzoli and Patrick Wing.
Die Geheimnisse der oberen und der unteren Welt ( The Secrets of the Upper and the Lower World) is a substantial new collection of essays on magic in Islamic cultural history. Both comprehensive and innovative in its approach, this book offers fresh insights into an important yet still understudied area of Islamic intellectual history. The seventeen chapters deal with key aspects of Islamic magic, including its historical developments, geographical variants, and modern-day practices. The general introduction identifies and problematizes numerous sub-topics and key practitioners/theoreticians in the Arabo-Islamic context. This, along with terminological and bibliographical appendices, makes the volume an unparalleled reference work for both specialists and a broader readership. Contributors: Ursula Bsees, Johann Christoph Bürgel, Susanne Enderwitz, Hans Daiber; Sebastian Günther, Mahmoud Haggag, Maher Jarrar, Anke Joisten-Pruschke, Fabian Käs, Ulrich Marzolph, Christian Mauder, Tobias Nünlist, Khanna Omarkhali, Eva Orthmann, Bernd-Christian Otto, Dorothee Pielow, Lutz Richter-Bernburg, Johanna Schott & Johannes Thomann.
Reclaiming the Women of Britain’s First Mission to Africa is the compelling story of three long-forgotten women, two white and one black, who lived, worked and died on the Church Missionary Society’s first overseas mission at the dawn of the nineteenth century. It was a time of momentous historical events: the birth of Britain’s missionary movement, the creation of its first African colony as a home for freed slaves, and abolition of the slave trade. Casting its long shadow over much of the women’s story was the protracted war with Napoleon.

Taking as its starting point a cache of fifty letters from the three women, the book counters the prevailing narrative that early missionary endeavour was a uniquely European and male affair, and reveals the presence of a surprising number of women, among them several with very forceful personalities. Those who are interested in women’s life history, black history, the history of the slave trade and British evangelism will find this book immensely enjoyable.

Abstract

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.

In: Journal of Religion in Africa

Abstract

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.

In: Journal of Religion in Africa

Abstract

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.

In: Journal of Religion in Africa

Abstract

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.

In: Journal of Religion in Africa