Dr Marloes Janson
MA PhD (Leiden University)
Reader in West African Anthropology
- Dr Marloes Janson
- Email address:
- 020 7898 4345
- SOAS, University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
- Russell Square: College Buildings
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- Office Hours:
- Wednesdays 10:30am-12:30pm (and by appointment)
My research is at the intersection of anthropology and religion. West Africa (the Gambia, Senegal and Nigeria) are my ethnographic areas of specialization. I have conducted ethnographic research in the Gambia since 1996 on various research projects relating to popular culture, oral history, Islamic reform, gender and youth. In 2010 I switched my research field to Lagos, Nigeria, where I am exploring the emergence of Chrislam, a religious movement that fuses Christian and Muslim beliefs and practices. My research interests are reflected in my teaching. Before joining SOAS in 2012, I have been a researcher at the Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO) in Berlin.
- Culture and Society of West Africa
- Ethnography of a Selected Region - West Africa
- Introduction to Social Anthropology
- New Religious Movements in Africa, Asia and the Middle East
- Religions on the move: New Currents and Emerging Trends in Global Religion
PhD Students supervised
Since 1996 I have been conducting ethnographic research in the Gambia, West Africa. During my PhD research I lived with the griottes, female bards, of a Mandinka community in eastern Gambia for more than a year and was trained by them as an apprentice. From this perspective I have described how the penetration of capitalism and changes in spatial organization in a semi-urban town, resulting in economic pressure on women, transformed the bardic profession.
My later research focused on the relationship between local traditions and religious reform in the Gambia and Senegal. My recent research explored the expansion of the Tabligh Jamaʻat, a transnational Islamic missionary movement that originated in India, and its impact in the Gambia. The Jamaʻat offers Gambian youth, women in particular, new opportunities to express their religious identity. This research resulted in a forthcoming monograph (Young, Modern and Muslim, CUP), which explores how Gambian youth have incorporated the South Asian Tablighi ideology into their daily lives and adapted it to the local context in which they operate.
In 2010 I switched my research field from the smallest country in Africa – the Gambia – to the biggest one – Nigeria – to investigate the emergence of Chrislam, a set of religious movements mixing Christian and Muslim beliefs and practices. Nigeria’s former capital Lagos, characterised by rapid population growth, eroding socio-economic structures, scarcity of resources, corruption and increasing violence between Christians and Muslims, proved to be a challenging avenue for exploring the spiritual and pragmatic means Chrislam provides its worshippers to shape their daily lives in interaction with their urban environment. In my research, I study the proliferation of Chrislam as part of a wider move towards what can be called “Islamic Pentecostalism”. I argue that studying Chrislam in terms of a “Pentecostalisation” of Islam may help in overcoming the shortcoming of an anthropological analysis of religion as an integrated, internally consistent belief system since it proposes alternative ways for looking at religious pluralism.
In addition to religious reform, I also have a strong research interest in development issues. I am currently preparing a new project on how the recent integration of faith-based initiatives into transnational developments is embedded in the wider reconfiguration of the public sphere in Nigeria and the resurgence of both Pentecostal Christianity and reformist Islam.
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- The Gambia
Janson, Marloes and Akinleye, Akintunde (2014) The Spiritual Highway: Religious World Making in megacity Lagos. London: SOAS, University of London.
Janson, Marloes (2013) Islam, Youth, and Modernity in the Gambia: The Tablighi Jama'at. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press/International African Library.
Janson, Marloes (2002) The Best Hand is the Hand that Always Gives. Griottes and their Profession in Eastern Gambia. Leiden: CNWS Publications.
Edited Books or Journal Volumes
Janson, Marloes and Polak, Rainer, eds. (2003) Experts in Mandé. Training, strategieën en performances. Leiden, Netherlands: Vereniging van Afrika Studies.
Janson, Marloes (2014) 'Praise Performances by Jalimusolu in the Gambia.' In: Hale , Thomas A. and Sidikou, Aissata G., (eds.), Women’s Songs from West Africa. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, pp. 88-111.
Janson, Marloes (2013) 'Renegotiating Gender: Changing Moral Practice in the Tabligh Jama‘at in The Gambia.' In: Padru, Bade and Sacke, Brigid Maa, (eds.), Islam in Africa South of the Sahara: Essays in Gender Relations and Political Reform. Lanham: The Scarecrow Press, pp. 99-120.
Janson, Marloes (2012) 'Chrislam: Forging Ties in Nigeria’s Multi-Religious Society.' In: Uchendu, Egodi, (ed.), New Face of Islam in Eastern Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin. Makurdi: Aboki Publishers, pp. 203-228.
Janson, Marloes (2011) 'Guidelines for the Ideal Muslim Woman: Gender Ideology and Praxis in the Tabligh Jama‘at in the Gambia.' In: Badran, Margot, (ed.), Gender and Islam in Africa: Rights, Sexuality, and Law. Washington DC: Woodrow Wilson Center Press & Stanford University Press, pp. 147-172.
Janson, Marloes (2010) 'The Battle of the Ages: Contests for Religious Authority in The Gambia.' In: Herrera, Linda and Bayat, Asef, (eds.), Being Young and Muslim. New Cultural Politics in the Global South and North. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 95-111.
Janson, Marloes (2009) 'Searching for God. Young Gambians 19 Conversion to the Tabligh Jama 18at.' In: Diouf, Mamadou and Leichtman, Mara, (eds.), New Perspectives on Islam in Senegal: Conversion, Migration, Wealth, Power and Femininity. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 139-166.
Janson, Marloes (2009) 'Mixing Local and Muslim Traditions: The Finoo Profession in The Gambia.' In: Luning, Sabine and de Maaker, Erik and Jansen, Jan, (eds.), Traditions on the Move: Essays in Honour of Jarich Oosten. Amsterdam: Rozenberg Publications, pp. 97-110.
Janson, Marloes (2007) 'Representations: Legends, Epics, and Performance.' In: Suad, Joseph, (ed.), Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures Volume 5. Leiden: Brill, pp. 450-452.
Janson, Marloes and Spronk, Rachel (2005) 'Ambiguous Encounters: Gender in the Context of Modernity in the Gambia and Kenya.' In: van der Kwaak, Anke and Spronk, Rachel and Willemse, Karin, (eds.), From Modern Myths to Global Encounters. Belonging and the Dynamics of Change in Postcolonial Africa. Leiden: CNWS Publications.
Janson, Marloes (2004) 'The Narration of the Sunjata Epic as a Gendered Activity.' In: Jansen, Jan and Maier, Henk M.J., (eds.), Epic Adventures. Heroic Narrative in the Oral Performance Traditions of Four Continents. Münster: Lit Verlag, pp. 81-88.
Janson, Marloes and Nyang, Sulayman S (2002) 'Gambia.' In: Encyclopedia of the Islamic World. Oxford University Press, pp. 283-286.
Janson, Marloes 'Modern Love: Dating the Halal Way in Lagos.' In: Gomez-Perez, Muriel, (ed.), Femmes, génération et agency en Afrique subsaharienne: vers de nouveaux defies. Paris: Karthala. (In Press)
Janson, Marloes (2015) '‘How, for God’s sake, can I be a good Muslim?' Gambian Youth in Search of a Moral Lifestyle.' Ethnography . (In Press)
Janson, Marloes (2012) '‘We don’t Despair, since we know that Islam is the Truth’: New Expressions of Religiosity in Young Adherents of the Tabligh Jama‘at in the Gambia.' L’Afrique des Générations. Entre tensions et négociations . pp. 579-615.
Janson, Marloes (2012) 'Islam and Politics in the Gambia.' Oxford Islamic Studies Online .
Janson, Marloes (2012) 'Tablīgh-i Jamāʿat in West Africa.' Oxford Islamic Studies Online .
Janson, Marloes (2011) 'Living Islam Through Death: Demarcating Muslim Identity in a Rural Serahuli Community in The Gambia.' Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 17 (1). pp. 100-115.
Janson, Marloes (2008) 'Renegotiating Gender: Changing Moral Practice in the Tabligh Jama‘at in The Gambia.' Journal for Islamic Studies, 28 . pp. 9-36.
Janson, Marloes and Schulz, Dorothea (2008) 'Introduction: Piety, Responsibility, Subjectivity - Changing Moral Economies of Gender Relations in Contemporary Muslim Africa.' Journal for Islamic Studies, 28 . pp. 2-8.
Janson, Marloes (2007) 'Appropriating Islam: The Tensions between ‘Traditionalists’ and ‘Modernists’ in The Gambia.' Islam et sociétés au sud du Sahara, nouvelle série, 1 . pp. 61-79.
Janson, Marloes (2007) 'Pleasing God and Pleasing the Patrons: Portrait of a Female Finoo in The Gambia.' Canadian Journal of African Studies, 41 (1). pp. 38-65.
Janson, Marloes (2006) ''We are all the same, because we are all worshipping God.' The Controversial Case of a Female Saint in The Gambia.' Africa: Journal of the International African Institute, 76 (4). pp. 502-525.
Janson, Marloes (2006) 'The Prophet’s Path: Tablighi Jamaat in The Gambia.' ISIM Review, 17 (1). pp. 44-45.
Janson, Marloes (2006) 'We are the sauce on top of the rice.’ A Case Study on the Finoo Negotiation of Muslim Identity in The Gambia.' Mande Studies, 8 . pp. 183-205.
Janson, Marloes (2005) 'Roaming about for God’s Sake: The Upsurge of the Tablīgh Jamā‘at in The Gambia.' Journal of Religion in Africa, 35 (4). pp. 450-481.
Janson, Marloes (2004) 'Gai Sakiliba: portrait d’une jalimusoo de Gambie.' Africultures, 61 . pp. 74-85.
Janson, Marloes (2002) 'On the Boundaries of Muslim Gender Ideology.' ISIM Newsletter, 11 . p. 28.
Janson, Marloes (2002) 'Praising as a Gendered Activity: How Jalimusoolu and Jalikeolu exercise their Profession in Eastern Gambia.' Mande Studies, 4 . pp. 65-82.
Janson, Marloes (2011) 'Book Review of Janet McIntosh 19s "The Edge of Islam. Power, Personhood, and Ethnoreligious Boundaries on the Kenya Coast".' American Ethnologist, 38 (2). pp. 402-403.
Janson, Marloes (2010) 'Book Review of Adeline Masquelier’s "Women and Islamic Revival in a West African Town".' American Anthropologist, 112 (4). pp. 675-676.
Janson, Marloes (2002) 'Book review of Katrin Pfeiffer’s “Sprache und Musik in Mandinka-Erzählungen”.' Journal of Language and Public Culture, 2 .
Janson, Marloes and Akinleye, Akintunde (2014) The Spiritual Highway: Religious World Making in Megacity Lagos. [Shows/Exhibitions]
Janson, Marloes (2012) 'Contribution of Mandinka songs to the anthology Women’s Voices from West Africa.' Bloomington: Indiana University Press.