Displacing the State: Religion and Conflict in Neoliberal Africa

Overview

In colonial Africa, Christianity has often supported, sustained, and legitimated a violent process of governance. More recently, however, following decades of violence and oppression, churches and religious organizations have mobilized African publics against corrupt and abusive regimes and facilitated new forms of reconciliation and cooperation. It is the purpose of Displacing the State: Religion and Conflict in Neoliberal Africa to illustrate the nature of religion’s ambivalent power in Africa while suggesting ...

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Overview

In colonial Africa, Christianity has often supported, sustained, and legitimated a violent process of governance. More recently, however, following decades of violence and oppression, churches and religious organizations have mobilized African publics against corrupt and abusive regimes and facilitated new forms of reconciliation and cooperation. It is the purpose of Displacing the State: Religion and Conflict in Neoliberal Africa to illustrate the nature of religion’s ambivalent power in Africa while suggesting new directions in the study of religion, conflict, and peace studies, with a specific focus on sub-Saharan Africa.

As the editors make clear, most of the literature on conflict and peacebuilding in Africa has been concerned with dramatic conflicts such as genocide and war. In these studies, “conflict” usually means a violent clash between parties with opposing interests, while “peace” implies reconciliation and cooperation between these parties, usually with a view to achieving a social order predicated on the idea of the sovereign national state whose hegemony is viewed as normative. The contributors argue that this perspective is inadequate for understanding the nature, depth, and persistence of conflict in Africa. In contrast, the chapters in this volume adopt an ethnographic approach, often focusing on mundane manifestations of both conflict and peace, and in so doing draw attention to the ambiguities and ambivalences of conflict and peace in everyday life. The volume therefore focuses our attention on the extent to which everyday conflict contributes to subsequently larger and more highly visible clashes.

 

Displacing the State makes two important contributions to the study of religion, conflict, and peacebuilding. First, it shows how peace is conceptualized and negotiated in daily life, often in ways that are counterintuitive and anything but peaceful. Second, the volume uses African case studies to confront assumptions about the nature of the relationships among religion, conflict, and peace.

 

“Seldom have recent studies of African culture and politics directly treated 'religion and conflict' as such; Displacing the State remedies that omission. The authors collectively explore the ways religions and religious movements employ media, gender roles, social organizations, and translocal cultural values to challenge, reform, and otherwise shape political culture and social structures. Their insightful contributions are sure to push the ongoing scholarly debate on the complex relationships among ethnicity, religion, governance, and conflict in Africa.”

 —R. Scott Appleby, John M. Regan Jr. Director, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame

 

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780268030957
  • Publisher: University of Notre Dame Press
  • Publication date: 12/30/2011
  • Series: Kroc Inst Religion Conflict & Peacebldg Series
  • Edition description: 1st Edition
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

James Howard Smith is associate professor of anthropology at the University of California, Davis.

Rosalind I. J. Hackett is professor of religous studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

CONTRIBUTORS: Rosalind I. J. Hackett, Abasi Kiyimba, Isabel Mukonyora, Charles Shaefer, James Howard Smith, Asonzeh F.-H. Ukah, Koen Vlassenroot, Grace Nyatugah Wamue-Ngare.

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Table of Contents

Foreword R. Scott Appleby vii

Acknowledgments xi

Religious Dimensions of Conflict and Peace in Neoliberal Africa: An Introduction James Howard Smith 1

Part I Historical Sources of Religious Conflict and Peace

1 Forgiveness with Consequences: Scriptures, Qene, and Traditions of Restorative Justice in Nineteenth-Century Ethiopia Charles Schaefer 27

2 Making Peace with the Devil: The Political Life of Devil Worship Rumors in Kenya James Howard Smith 49

Part II New Religious Movements, Enduring Social Tensions

3 The Mungiki Movement: A Source of Religio-Political Conflict in Kenya Grace Nyatugah Wamue-Ngare 85

4 Magic as Identity Maker: Conflict and Militia Formation in Eastern Congo Koen Vlassenroot 112

5 Religion, Politics, and Gender in Zimbabwe: The Masowe Apostles and Chimurenga Religion Isabel Mukonyora 136

Part III New Religious Public Spheres and the Crisis of Regulation

6 "Devil Bustin' Satellites": How Media Liberalization in Africa Generates Religious Intolerance and Conflict Rosalind I. J. Hackett 163

7 Mediating Armageddon: Popular Christian Video Films as a Source of Conflict in Nigeria Asonzeh F.-K. Ukah 209

8 "The Domestic Relations Bill" and Inter-Religious Conflict in Uganda: A Muslim Reading of Personal Law and Religious Pluralism in a Postcolonial Society Abasi Kiyimba 240

List of Contributors 281

Index 285

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