SOAS University of London

Department of Religions & Philosophies, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

Religion, Media and Marginality in Africa since 1800

Mikindani Students
The list of speakers is confirmed below

Date: 23 March 2013Time: 9:00 AM

Finishes: 24 March 2013Time: 5:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: Khalili Lecture Theatre

Type of Event: Conference

The workshop is inspired by recent scholarship that examines the intersection between forms of communication and the growth of new religious constituencies. It seeks to further pursue these insights in the context of nineteenth and twentieth century Africa. We are particularly interested in how media practices enabled, shaped, and limited forms of claims-making by relatively marginal individuals and groups in religious contexts. The media focus covers both ‘old’ (including handwriting and print technologies) and ‘new’ (including the internet) forms.  Participants will explore media history and practice with reference to religious contexts or content, as well as cases where the religious aspect of media use is one among several. Other themes include the creation of publics - religious and otherwise - in interaction with various forms of old and new media; the making and contesting of sacred texts; the materiality of media; and preaching in the public sphere.

Saturday, 23 March 2013
8.45-9:15Registration and Coffee

Panel 1 ‘Establishing Orthodoxies’

  • Scott Reese (Northern Arizona), ‘Media, Marginality and the Moral Community in Colonial Aden: Why Zar failed when Tamburra Succeeded’
  • Katrien Pype (Leuven), ‘The Rise and Downfall of a Marial Cult: Media and Religious Competition in Postcolonial Kinshasa’
  • David Gordon (Bowdoin College), ‘Tin-Trunk Bibles: Sacred Texts of the Lumpa Church in Zambia’
11:15-11:30Coffee break

Panel 2 ‘Diversity of Religious Observance in Mali’

  • Bruce S. Hall (Duke), ‘Publishing Nawazil on Slavery: New Debates about Islam and slavery in the Sahel’
  • Dorothea Schulz (University of Cologne), ‘Fostering ‘moral community from the margins: Muslim activism, mass media and the making of religious attachment in southern Mali’
  • Andre Chappatte (SOAS, University of London), ‘When “old” things meet “new” things: The popularity of cassette-zikiris among young Muslims in contemporary Mali’

Panel 3 ‘Ethnicity, Orality and Literacy’ 
(there will be a ten-minute coffee break halfway through)

  • David Maxwell (Cambridge University), ‘Missionary Science and Christian Literacy in the Making of Luba Ethnicity’
  • Nkosinathi Sithole (University of Zululand), ‘Beyond African Nationalism: Isaiah Shembe and the hymns in Ibandla lamaNazaretha’
  • Derek Peterson (University of Michigan),  ‘Paperwork and the Millennium’
  • Emma Wild-Wood (Henry Martyn Centre, Cambridge University), ‘Bible translation and the politics of national identity in Western Uganda, 1900-1930’
5.30-6.30Film Screening, in room G50 (Richard Werbner ,‘Counterpoint Botswana’ and Annalisa Butticci, ‘Enlarging the Kingdom: African Pentecostals in Italy’)
Sunday, 24 March 2013

Panel 4 ‘Diasporas Within and Beyond Africa’

  • Sean Hanretta (Stanford), ‘Formal Care: Religion and Written Genres in the Gold Coast/Ghana’
  • Robert Trent Vinson (College of William and Mary),  “Princes Shall Out of Egypt and Ethiopia Shall Stretch Forth Her Hands to God”: Marcus Garvey, the Negro World and 1920s South African Prophetic Politics’
  • Mara Leichtman (Michigan State University), ‘Islamic Preaching in the Diaspora: The Dakar Sermons of Lebanese Shaykh al-Zayn’

Panel 5 ‘Religious Representations in the News Media’

  • Gabeba Baderoon (Penn State), ‘Oscillating Figures: Muslims in the Mainstream and Muslim Media in South Africa’
  • Liz Gunner (University of Johannesburg), 'The Angel of the Sabbath is the greatest angel of all: media, rhetoric and marginality in a South African church’
  • Halkano Abdi Wario (Moi University), ‘Framing “Terror” in Muslim Newsletters: Alternative Faith-based Media and Dissemination of National News in Kenya’

Panel 6 ‘Visual Media, Bodies and Gender’ 
(there will be a ten-minute coffee break half way through)

  • Annalisa Butticci (Harvard), ‘The Body as Media: An African Fabrication of Spiritual and Social Power’
  • Abdoulaye Sounaye (Northwestern University), ‘Mallama Ta Ce: Women’s TV fatwa practices in contemporary Niger’
  • Richard Werbner  (University of Manchester), ‘Feedback, Reception and Ethnographic Film-making’
  • Heike Behrend (University of Cologne),‘“Photography as Unveiling”: Muslim Discourses and Practices along the East African Coast’
Co-conveners: Felicitas Becker (Cambridge University), Joel Cabrita (Cambridge University), Marie Rodet (SOAS)



Organiser: Marie Rodet, Joel Cabrita and Centres and Programmes Office

Contact email:

Contact Tel: 020 7898 4892/3

Sponsor: SOAS Faculty A&H, Arts & Humanities Research Council and Cambridge University