STREAM: Inhabiting Paradoxes: Religion in African Urban Worlds

STREAM: Inhabiting Paradoxes: Religion in African Urban Worlds

Building on recent scholarship on African and global cities, this panel stream solicits papers and panels that explore and examine the multifarious ways in which religion is part of contemporary African urban worlds – both on the continent and in the diaspora. The new urban worlds that emerge in Africa and elsewhere are full of paradoxes: of urbanity and rurality, tradition and modernity, informality and formality, of public and private spheres, of the religious and the secular. With AbdouMaliq Simone and Edgar Pieterse (2017) we are interested in the ways in which people individually and communally inhabit these paradoxes and the dissonant times these reflect and constitute. More specifically we are interested in the ways in which religious beliefs, practices, infrastructures and imaginaries shape these paradoxes, on the one hand, and enable people to inhabit them, on the other. We conceptualize African urban worlds as spaces of both alienation and belonging, fragility and creativity, precariousness and inventiveness, survival and aspiration, secretion and revelation, indifference and mobilisation. Yet first and foremost we think of these worlds as spaces of religious experimentation, innovation and transformation.

We envision at least two panels, one exploring the intersections of religion with the socio-economic and socio-political dimensions of African urban worlds, and one exploring artistic and otherwise creative expressions and negotiations of religion and African urban world-making.

Confirmed Panels:

Panel 1: 

  • Urban Misnomers: The Agency of Contemporary Nigerian Pop Music in Stimulating Religious Obsession, Chukwuemeka, Daniel (Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu, Nigeria)
  • Reimaging Religious Diversity and Nation-Building in Contemporary Nigeria, Ojo, Olusola (National Open University of Nigeria, Abuja, Nigeria)
  • Revised Pentecostal Spirituality and the Malaise of Paradoxes in African Urban Cities: The Nigerian Experience, Inyama, Emmanuel Onuoha (Imo State University, Owerri, Nigeria)

Panel 2:

  • Religions in Urban Centres: Social Security or Faith, Adu-Gyamfi, Yaw (President, Ghana Baptist University College (GBUC), Kumasi, Ghana) and Atibila, John (Director of Research, Innovation & Partnerships, Ghana Baptist University College (GBUC), Kumasi, Ghana)
  • The Religious History and Topography of an Urban Neighbourhood in Kumasi, Ghana, Lauterbach, Karen (Centre of African Studies, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen S, Denmark)
  • “Yes to daaras, no to begging”: Dissociating Child Begging and Qur’anic Education in Urban Senegal, Macleod, Shona (SOAS, London, United Kingdom)
  • Negotiating Urbanization in the Religious Field: the Case of Initiation Societies in Sierra Leone, Ménard, Anaïs (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle/Saale, Germany | Université Catholique de Louvain-la-Neuve, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium)

Panel 3:

  • ‘You will never lose your shadow.’ How Stories About Ngozi Spirits Provide the Best Way of Making Sense of Neoliberal Social and Economic Relations in Urban Zimbabwe, Jeater, Diana (University of Liverpool, Liverpool, United Kingdom) and Mashinge, Jr., Jairos (Independent Researcher, Harare, Zimbabwe)”
  • Pentecostalism and Politics in Africa: The Case of Zimbabwe, Zigomo, Kuziwakwashe, Mary Emma (Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey, United Kingdom)
  • Urban Uncertainties, Immaterial Connections and Spiritual Healing Places Outside the Metropolis of Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire), Koenig, Boris (KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium | Université du Québec à Montréal, Montreal, Canada)

If you have any queries or suggestions please contact Adriaan van Klinken (; Abel Ugba (; Corey Williams ( For panel and paper submissions please follow the instructions on the website 

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