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  • Author or Editor: Barbara Bompani x
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The increasing public role of religion in Sub-Saharan Africa and the consequent studies that are emerging on the topic, force us to rethink how to interpret, approach, categorize and understand religion in the public. The pervasiveness of religion, and the impossibility of simply inscribing it within a single discipline pushes us to reconsider our approaches, methodologies and theories. Focusing on the emergence of “Religion and Development” (RaD) as a sub-discipline within the discipline of Development Studies, the article will show how the creation of “focused transdisciplinarity”, embedded in critical social science, can be an answer to the need of engaging with the multilayered nature of religion without compromising rigor and while still benefiting from methodologies and theories developed within a defined discipline. The article argues that a “focused transdisciplinary approach” allows research to navigate complexity and engage with issues while constantly reminding us of the origins of the investigative process in which the study is conducted.

In: Religion and Theology


Most of the literature on African independent churches (AICs) in South Africa has not paid much attention to their economic and developmental role. In contrast, this article will show how AICs are involved in important economic activities such as voluntary mutual benefit societies, savings clubs, lending societies, stokvels (informal savings funds), and burial societies that control millions of South African rand. In light of firsthand empirical research, this article investigates these kinds of activities, and analyses independent churches’ developmental role. This will allow us to better understand how these communities play a strong and supportive function among Africans in a deprived economic situation. In a period of socio-political transformation in South Africa, AICs are able to answer the needs of the people and their hunger to rebuild an identity. My major critique of classical research on AICs is the failure of the literature to address ‘social change’ in a theoretically adequate way, as something more than just descriptions of ‘traditional’ social structures away from interpretations of modernity.

In: Journal of Religion in Africa


This article introduces Religion & Development as a new transdisciplinary journal focusing on the nexus between religion and development. It outlines the motivation for establishing the new periodical along three central themes: the move towards sustainable development as dominant development paradigm; the reinvigoration of the post-development debate; and the emerging academic, policy and practice field of religion and development. The discussion proceeds to highlight the envisaged task of the journal as well as its transdisciplinary and collaborative span. Moreover, it delineates Religion & Development’s core editorial policies, before setting the scene for the contributions of the journal’s first issue.

Open Access
In: Religion and Development