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The Spiritual Highway (Lagos)

  • Marloes Janson
Thursday 25 February 2016
WHAT's NEW?! Spring Lecture Series
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden
Lipsius 228

Marloes Janson will deliver a lecture on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway in Nigeria, also called the 'Spiritual Highway'. The lecture will be followed by drinks in the 'koffiekamer' of Matthias de Vrieshof 4, where the photographs taken by Akintunde Akinleye and Marloes Janson are exposed.  

The Spiritual Highway (Lagos)

The exhibition maps the conversion of Nigeria’s former capital Lagos – often described in terms of an ‘apocalyptic megacity’ – into a Prayer City. Since the late 1980s numerous Christian and Muslim prayer camps have cropped up along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. Since then this highway has grown into a stage for the performance of public religiosity, earning it the name ‘Spiritual Highway’. Visiting prayer camps as a means of solving problems related to health and wealth is practised on a grand scale in Nigeria, characterising the Pentecostal upsurge. Muslims reacted to the Pentecostalisation of Nigeria’s cityscape by establishing their own prayer camps. The photographs shed light on the mutual borrowing of prayer styles and images between Christian and Muslim prayer camps. I argue that in order to grasp the ways in which religion is ‘lived’ in everyday living, we should bridge the division of labour between scholars studying Christianity and those studying Islam, bringing the two religious traditions together in a comparative framework.

About Marloes Janson

Marloes Janson is Reader in West African Anthropology at SOAS, University of London, with her special area of interest in the intersection of anthropology and religion in the Gambia and Nigeria. She is the author of Islam, Youth, and Modernity in the Gambia: The Tablighi Jamaʻat (Cambridge University Press/International African Institute, 2014). Janson received a PhD in Anthropology from Leiden University, the Netherlands. She has worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World (ISIM) in Leiden and Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO) in Berlin, before joining SOAS in 2012.


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