List of panels

(P171)

Multipolar religious production: old and new trends

Location C4.07
Date and Start Time 28 June, 2013 at 13:30

Convenors

Linda van de Kamp (Tilburg University) email
Clara Mafra (State University of Rio de Janeiro) email
Marina Pignatelli (University of Lisbon - Political and Social Sciences Institute) email
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Short Abstract

This panel intends to focus on main topics regarding Religion in Africa, more specifically in the old and new forms of religious production in African societies and the circulation of religions to and from Africa.

Long Abstract

The age of European imperial rule in Africa brought forth an accrued complexity in the cultural and historical roles played by religion, as the impact of colonialism on African societies and the effects of counter-hegemonic struggles also carved out the post-colonial landscape of African religions. On the other hand, the religious circulation between Africa and other continents has a long history with new trends in the current era. The transatlantic slave trade and European colonial rule resulted in the travelling of religious ideas, practices and symbols from and to Africa. Taking this complex narrative into account, our panel intends to discuss and compare historical and contemporary forms of religious production within African societies as well as the circulation of religions to and from Africa, looking at how they are distributed and made sense of. We aim to address some of the following issues:

- Colonial policies towards religions and their effects in post-colonial settings.

- Strategies of integration/transformation/survival of local and traditional religions in new African cultural and political contexts.

- New forms of south-south and north-south religious circulation.

- Processes of religious globalization in Africa; African religious transnationalism, understood in its plurality and complex inscription in global networks; local impacts of global religions; ethnic and other factors that weighed on the transnational diffusion of religious customs and ideas.

Discussant: Ruy Llera Blanes and Rijk van Dijk

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

New religious movements in colonial Ghana: Wade Harris' "passage" in Gold Coast (1914)

Author: Alessandra Brivio (Università Milano-Bicocca)  email
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Short Abstract

The paper will focus on the social and religious effects of Wade Harris' "passage" along the coast of Ghana (1914) and on the past and present meanings of Wade Harris' extreme battle against fetish and all expressions of traditional and ancestral beliefs.

Long Abstract

The paper will focus on the social and religious effects of Wade Harris' "passage" along the coast of Ghana (1914). Wade Harris was one of the most interesting and discussed African prophet of the twentieth century, because of the extraordinary effects of his preaching along the West African Coast. My research includes a discussion in historical perspective of the past and present meanings of Wade Harris' extreme battle against fetish and all expressions of traditional and ancestral beliefs. The paper deals in particular with the shifting alliances between different social actors, political institutions, colonial administration and Christian churches in the days of Wade Harris' preaching in Ghana, at a time when new religious movements, such as the anti-witchcraft movements, old systems of belief, itinerant prophets and confessional churches were trying to find a political position within the colonial system and to increase the numbers of their followers. The paper interrogates colonial policies towards new religious movements and the different positions of local beliefs systems in this political arena.

Mademonio and angels: the spirit world according to Zion churches in Maputo and Matola, southern Mozambique

Author: Giulia Cavallo (ICS - University of Lisbon)  email
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Short Abstract

In this paper I will show how the complex local spiritual universe is reshaped among some Zion churches in Maputo and Matola, Southern Mozambique. Despite the missionary influence, Zion churches relate to the local perception of evil, especially connected to the logic of kinship allegiances.

Long Abstract

The Zion churches, classified as AIC, are part of a transnational phenomenon that spread in South Africa at the beginning of 20th century by the action of North-American missionaries.

In Mozambique, the "Work of Zion" was introduced by the local workers returned from the South African mines during the colonial period, but its diffusion in the country became considerable after the economic liberalization of the 80's and, especially, after the end of the civil war in 1992. Nowadays, the Zion churches, whose principal characteristic is the spiritual healing through the prophets' work, represent one of the most popular religious movements in southern Mozambique.

In this paper I will show how the complex local spiritual world is reshaped among some Zion churches in Maputo and Matola, Southern Mozambique.

In Southern Africa the missionary work introduced a dichotomist vision about spiritual forces, in which all the "heathen" spirits, especially those that cause possession, were considered evil and classified as "demons". Despite the missionary influence, especially in the lexicon, the Zion churches which I worked with in Maputo and Matola reformulate every day, through the performance of their healing practices, the local perception of evil, which is much more fluid and connected to the logic of kinship allegiances. In this way, among the Zion churches the meaning of "mademonio" and "angels" is quite different than the one introduced by the missionaries and this linguistic ambiguity represented a major challenge for my work.

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Baye-Faal in Senegal, Baye-Faal in Lavapiés, Baye-Faal in the Albayzín caves: diasporic transnationalism of a Sufi heterodoxy

Author: Ester Massó Guijarro (University of Granada)  email
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Short Abstract

The aim of this paper is an approach to the Baye-Faal movement inside the Muridism from transnational and gender perspectives, comparing its origins as a Sufi heterodoxy in Senegal with the current case studies in Madrid and Granada (Spain), within the migrant diaspora.

Long Abstract

The main aim of this paper is an approach to the Baye-Faal movement (Bayefaalism, henceforth) inside the Muridism from transnational and gender perspectives, comparing its origins as a Sufi heterodoxy in Senegal with the current case studies in Madrid and Granada (Spain), within the migrant diaspora.

The objectives are: 1) An introduction to the main features of the Baye-Faal members within the Order, with an special emphasis on the singularity of the Murid Sufism and its current element of migratory transnationalism; 2) An approach to the origins of Bayefaalism and its evolution to the present, persistently straddling between the extreme profession of faith and a bordering on heresy heterodoxy; 3) A report of the case studies on Bayefaalism in Lavapiés (Madrid, Spain) and the Albayzín caves (Granada, Spain), as examples of Bayefaalism recreated within the migratory diaspora; 4) A comparative reflection on globalization and transnationalism as key features of the Sufi heterodoxia remarkably represented by Baye-Faal in diaspora, and Bayefaalism as an specifically migratory adscription, where the alleged tradition is recreated and adapted in culturally diverse contexts.

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On the mobile with the sacred horns: religious practices among Guineans in Lisbon

Author: Clara Saraiva (CRIA Centro em Rede de Investigação em Antropologia and CEC UL)  email
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Short Abstract

How does a very local African religion have impact on the white, educated, and “globalized” Portuguese population ? I will present two case studies from Guinea-Bissau which will analyze the circulation of religion and religious goods between Guinea and Lisbon.

Long Abstract

In contemporary forms of religious circulation between Africa and the Europe one of the issues that has been dealt with is the conjunction of the so-called "traditional" ways and modernity, in the strict sense of the word. In this paper I want to take this notion further, and think of the implications of the African diaspora in the religious rituals. Using the case study of migrants from Guinea-Bissau living in Portugal, I will expand on the new forms of religious production, and especially of religious circulation. How does a djmabakóss or mouro (both religious ritualists) from Biombo (a quite isolated region in Guinea-Bissau)attract clients in Lisbon? How does a very local African religion have impact on the white, educated, and "globalised" Portuguese population ? I will present two case studies: one centered on the funeral of a mouro and the Portuguese women clients that attended this funeral; the second one, dealing with the circulations of goods between Guinea and Lisbon, undertaken by her daughter, upon the death of a djambakóss . These two examples will allow for considerations on the meaning of "transnational religions" when such micro-scale religious forms are at stake.

Citizenship construction and the afterlife: funeral rituals among Orisha devotees in Trinidad

Author: Josiah Olubowale (University of the West Indies)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper discusses the interplay of three concepts: religion, citizenship and afterlife among devotees of Orisha. The ethnographic research focuses on how these concepts are addressed by different sub-groups of Orisha devotees through their repertoires of funeral rituals.

Long Abstract

This paper focuses on how afterlife is conceived and addressed by devotees of Orisha in Trinidad. Rich ethnographic data are utilized on funeral rituals among different sub-groups of Orisha practitioners who have, over the years, emerged with emphasis on different theological preferences. Funeral rites have turn out to show how these sub-groups engage one another on their theological arguments and also close ranks to engage the larger society as a minority group. My analysis of funeral rites and rituals attempts a better understanding of the interplay of race, interpretation of history by different groups in post-colonial states. Although Orisha is broadly grouped together within the national space, I argue that such a generalization needs to be peeled off to reveal the individualistic and sub-group specifics that agency is constructed to address. I present the challenge that post-colonial states present to existing theories on mortuary rituals. Although funeral rites are generally regarded as a rites of passage that traditional groups engage in, in order to make sense of their existence in relation to the experience of the death of a member (van Gennep, Binford, and Turner), funeral rites among Orisha devotees in Trinidad address more than this: fragmented Orisha groups have a rather more overlapping subjectivity in sight which their rites address, rather than fashion, as Kroeber once observed. Grief, a central focus of mortuary rites (Malinowski, Evans-Pritchard, Radcliffe-Brown) and power structure that regulates grief (Fowlkes) play out differently among Orisha groups and add to our theoretical understanding of the subject.

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West African Muslim healers in the Netherlands

Author: Amber Gemmeke (University of Bayreuth)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper focuses on the ways in which West African Muslim healers set up a clientele in the Netherlands and how they relate to their Surinamese clients, in particular. The paper is based on fieldwork in the Netherlands in 2011-2013.

Long Abstract

Since no longer than twenty years, West African Muslim healers from Guinee, Senegal, the Gambia and Mali establish themselves in the Netherlands. Having no colonial ties with the Netherlands, this is a relatively new development, especially when compared with France where West African Muslim networks are sustained since the beginning of the 20th century. West African Muslim healers, also called marabouts, often live and travel in various European and African countries. Such 'transnational therapy networks', as Krause (2008) indicated, function mainly through personal contacts. In the Netherlands, West African Muslim healers find a clientele consisting mostly of West Africans and Surinamese, and, to a lesser extent, Antilleans and Dutch. West Africans and Surinamese maintain, for example, marital relations. Winti, an Afro-Surinamese religion, has been banned by Dutch law until 1971. Now, Winti experts operate, like West African Muslim experts, mostly in the urban centers. This paper focuses on the ways in which West African Muslim healers set up a clientele in the Netherlands and how they relate to their Surinamese clients, in particular. The paper is based on fieldwork in the Netherlands in 2011-2013

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Dancing with the African's gods: the recreation of Africa in Candomblé in Germany

Author: Joana Bahia (State University of Rio de Janeiro)  email
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Short Abstract

Our paper shows the importance of the afro-Brazilian religions in recreating an idea of Africa in Europe. We analyze the annual presence of afoxé (cultural and artistic groups based in the afro-Brazilian doctrines) in the Berlin Carnival of Cultures.

Long Abstract

The presence of Brazilians in Europe has been expressive since the socioeconomic changes which occurred in the international context. Nowadays, this migration developed in North Europe. In Germany, 216.285 migrants come from Latin America, 31.918 are Brazilians.

We consider in this article the importance of the so called "african dance" in afro Brazilians religions and how the artistic performance leads to a ritual performance. It means how the mains shamans that expand the religion are related to the afro Brazilian dance and music scene. Our work analyses the annual presence of afoxé (cultural and artistic groups based in the afro Brazilian doctrines) in the Carnival of Cultures in Berlin. Its shows the importance of the afro-Brazilian religions in recreating an idea of "Africa" in Europe.

Our field work also took place in the Ilê Obá Silekê and Forum Brasil, both located in Berlin and coordinated by pai de santo (Shaman) Murah. He is very well known as a Afro Brazilian dancer all over the country for 20 years. They are assisted by Germans, Brazilians and other nationalities as Americans and Italians.

The candomblê is one of the most important parts of a kind of little Brazil in Berlin. The participants of candomblê are also dancers, musicians, artists who participate in the cultural activities promoted in the city as a whole. We consider how these ethnic brokers are important to circulate important ethnic symbols, specially the so called afro Brazilian religion symbols.

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This panel is closed to new paper proposals.