Religion and Displacement in Africa

Compassion and Sacrifice in Congolese Churches in Kampala, Uganda

In: Religion and Theology

This article is about the role of religion in contexts of displacement. The article looks at the role churches and church leaders play in the lives of refugees and more particularly the assistance that these actors provide. The analytical approach is to take into consideration both religious ideas and experiences as well as the everyday practices of people and the socio-economic structures within which they live. The empirical focus is on Congolese Christian congregations in Kampala, Uganda that for the most are founded and attended by refugees. I analyse the forms of assistance that are provided to refugees, how this is conceptualised as well as the practices in a perspective that includes the intersection between religious ideas (compassion and sacrifice) and ideas around social relationships, gift-giving and reciprocity.

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    Field notes 13 January 2013.

  • 3

    Karen Lauterbach, “Spiritual Gifts and Relations of Exchange among Congolese in Kampala, Uganda,” in Religion and Development – Nordic Perspectives on Involvement in Africa (ed. Thomas S. Drønen; New York, N.Y.: Peter Lang, 2014), 75–86.

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  • 5

    Timothy Longman, “Church Politics and the Genocide in Rwanda,” Journal of Religion in Africa 31, vol. 2 (2001): 163–186.

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    Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, “Introduction: Faith-Based Humanitarianism in Contexts of Forced Displacement,” Journal of Refugee Studies 24, no. 3 (2011): 430.

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  • 9

    Jean-François Mayer, “Introduction. ‘In God I Have Put My Trust’: Refugees and Religion,” Refugee Survey Quarterly 26, no. 2 (2007): 6–10; Ben Jones and Marie Juul Petersen, “Instrumental, Narrow, Normative? Reviewing Recent Work on Religion and Development,” Third World Quarterly 32, no. 7 (2011): 1291–1306.

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  • 10

    Joel Robbins, “Anthropology and Theology: An Awkward Relationship?,” Anthropological Quarterly 79, no. 2 (2006): 285–294.

  • 11

    See for instance Paul Gifford, Ghana’s New Christianity. Pentecostalism in a Globalising African Economy (London: Hurst & Company, 2004) and Birgit Meyer, “‘Make a Complete Break with the Past’: Memory and Post-Colonial Modernity in Ghanaian Pentecostal Discourse,” Journal of Religion in Africa 28, no. 3 (1998): 316–349.

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  • 12

    Harri Englund and James Leach, “Ethnography and the Meta-Narratives of Modernity,” Current Anthropology 41, no. 2 (2000): 225–248.

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  • 13

    Robbins, “Anthropology and Theology,” 292.

  • 14

    Joel Robbins, “Afterword: Let’s Keep it Awkward: Anthropology, Theology, and Otherness,” The Australian Journal of Anthropology 24, no. 3 (2013): 329–337.

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  • 15

    Robbins, “Afterword,” 330.

  • 16

    Robert A. Orsi, “When 2 + 2 = 5: Can We Begin to Think about Unexplained Religious Experiences in Ways that Acknowledge Their Existence?,” The American Scholar 76, no. 2 (2007): 34–43.

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  • 17

    Orsi, “When 2 + 2 = 5,” 42.

  • 18

    Orsi, “When 2 + 2 = 5,” 43.

  • 22

    Interview with pastor, 7 February 2012, Kampala, Uganda.

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    Interview with pastor, 7 February 2012, Kampala, Uganda.

  • 24

    Interview with pastor, 15 February 2012, Kampala, Uganda.

  • 25

    Interview with pastor, 7 February 2012, Kampala, Uganda.

  • 26

    Interview with pastor, 7 February 2012, Kampala, Uganda.

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    Interview with pastor, 15 February 2012, Kampala, Uganda.

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    Interview with pastor, 15 February 2012, Kampala, Uganda.

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    Interview with pastor, 15 February 2012, Kampala, Uganda.

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    Interview with pastor, 15 February 2012, Kampala, Uganda.

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    Interview with pastor, 15 February 2012, Kampala, Uganda.

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    Interview with pastor, 15 February 2012, Kampala, Uganda.

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    Interview with pastor, 15 February 2012, Kampala, Uganda.

  • 36

    Interview with pastor, 20 January 2012, Kampala, Uganda.

  • 37

    Interview with pastor, 15 February 2012, Kampala, Uganda.

  • 38

    Michael Lambek, “Afterthought on Sacrifice,” Ethnos ahead-of-print (2013): 1–8.

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