7 May 2014
The latest publication by Dr Marloes Janson, Lecturer in Anthropology at SOAS, University of London has been shortlisted for the BBC’s Ethnography award.
Established by BBC Radio 4's Thinking Allowed programme, the Ethnography award, in association with the British Sociological Association, highlights academic research that has made a significant contribution to ethnography, the in-depth analysis of the everyday life of a culture or sub-culture.
Dr Janson’s mongraph Islam, Youth, and Modernity in the Gambia: The Tablighi Jama'at (Cambridge University Press for the International African Institute, 2013) was shortlisted for the award from over 100 entries.
Social anthropologist, Professor Henrietta Moore, a member of the judging panel, commended the work as “tell[ing] us things about Islam that we don't have any idea about in the United Kingdom...the big question is why would a movement originating in South Asia be of interest to local Gambians? How do people become interested in religion?"
She added: “It's a question we keep asking ourselves all the time now. And this movement is of particular interest to youths and women... You get a change in social relationships particularly in this case and very brilliantly described by the ethnographer in relations between women and men... the movement doesn't necessarily turn out to be emancipatory for women but it does turn out new spaces, new ways of living.
“What Marloes Janson does very well for us is to show the diversity of Islam in the Gambia not just those who follow this missionary movement, but those who don't, those who criticise it...the kind of debate and turmoil about what religion means for people... The question she asks is with all this diversity in Islam, is it possible to keep speaking of a single Islam?'
The judging panel also included Professor Beverley Skeggs, Professor Dick Hobbs and Dr Louise Westmarland.
Dr Janson has also collaborated with Nigerian photographer Akintunde Akinleye on the Spiritual Highway exhibition in the Brunei Gallery at SOAS. The exhibition explores religious world making in megacity Lagos.