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Lecture

Religion in Africa: Jacob Olupona and Afe Adogame

Date
Thursday 15 December 2016
Time
Location
Lipsius
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden
Room
Lipsius 003
Photo by David Evers

On 15 December, two visiting scholars will deliver a lecture on religion in Africa.

Jacob Olupona

'Reconsidering Religion: Muslim-Christian Relations, Nation-Building, and Citizenship in Nigeria’’

Since Nigeria’s independence in 1960, the contentious interactions between Christians and Muslims have posed major obstacles in the pathway of citizenship, civil society, and nation-building in the country. This lecture examines how such religious conflicts between Muslims and Christians may illuminate many of the problems faced by the Nigerian nation-state. Providing an historical overview of this complex relationship, I will shift our attention away from the conventional theological debates that underscore the saliency of “interfaith dialogue,” insisting on peaceful co-existence, tolerance, accommodation, and reconciliation among adherents of these two world religions, to a perspective that will emphasize a more phenomenological approach. This perspective will underscore the ways in which the nation’s supposedly “secular ” history may be interpreted as having many religious underpinnings, emphasizing complex historical, political, social, and economic forces that are implicated in Nigeria’s enduring religious crisis.

About Jacob Olupona
Jacob K. Olupona, who joined the Faculty of Divinity and Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University in 2006, is a noted scholar of indigenous African religions.

His current research focuses on the religious practices of the estimated one million Africans who have emigrated to the United States over the last 40 years, examining in particular several populations that remain relatively invisible in the American religious landscape: "reverse missionaries" who have come to the United States to establish churches, African Pentecostals in American congregations, American branches of independent African churches, and indigenous African religious communities in the United States. His earlier research ranged across African spirituality and ritual practices, spirit possession, Pentecostalism, Yoruba festivals, animal symbolism, icons, phenomenology, and religious pluralism in Africa and the Americas.

Afe Adogame

‘Indigenous Ways of Knowing: Negotiating Authenticity and Knowledges in Indigenous African Epistemologies’

The historiography of African religions/spiritualities provides a significant template for understanding and deconstructing indigenous epistemologies within global academic studies. This paper explores multiple modes of negotiating meaning, authenticity and knowledges in indigenous African epistemologies by academics and religious practitioners. While African divination systems have attracted fairly robust scholarly attention, some dynamic aspects of the divinatory process in the context of globalization and the emerging power contestation of meaning and interpretation have not been accorded sufficient scrutiny. I demonstrate how and to what extent the resilience and transformation of divinatory meanings, systems and practices in indigenous African religious traditions and contemporary forms of Christianity and Islam in Africa are generating new power discourses of meaning and interpretation centered on ways of knowing. The paper illuminates how the digitization of divination as a new trope of knowing is an instance of the institutionalization of indigenous religious beliefs and praxis transnationally, and demonstrates how adherents engage in producing and contesting trans-national relationships regarding what constitutes religious cosmologies and praxis.

About Afe Adogame
Afeosemime “Afe” Adogame, the Maxwell M. Upson Professor of Christianity and Society at Princeton University, is a leading scholar of the African Diaspora. He holds a PhD in history of religions from the University of Bayreuth in Germany and has served as associate professor of world Christianity and religious studies, and director international at School of Divinity, New College, at The University of Edinburgh in Scotland. His teaching and research interests are broad, but tend to focus on interrogating new dynamics of religious experiences and expressions in Africa and the African Diaspora, with a particular focus on African Christianities and new indigenous religious movements; the interconnectedness between religion and migration, globalization, politics, economy, media and the civil society.

These lectures are followed by drinks at Barrera (Rapenburg 56). 

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