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E34
Other ways of knowing? Exploring religious knowing and development in Africa [initiated by the ASCL, University of Konstanz, with partners in Botswana and Zambia]
Convenors:
Marieke van Winden (conference organiser) (African Studies Centre Leiden)
Rijk van Dijk (African Studies Centre Leiden)
Thomas G. Kirsch (University of Konstanz)
Senzokuhle Doreen Setume (University of Botswana)
Stream:
E: Transdisciplinary debates

Abstract:

All over the African continent, ways of knowing are playing an important role in people’s everyday lives, which are not mediated by formal education or science. These religious ways of knowing are rarely acknowledged in development efforts and university curricula, and yet are important for understanding how people in Africa make sense of developments in the wider world. Given the diversified and pluralist nature of religion in Africa, practitioners are faced with competing claims to truth and a multitude of different knowledge practices that range from the experience-near heuristics of the spiritualist variety to sophisticated religious knowledge transfers. At stake in this context, therefore, are not only the specific contents of authoritative religious knowledge but also the much more basic question of how this knowledge can be gained in the first place. The panel examines religious knowing in Africa and concentrates on the limitations of understanding these ways of knowing. Conceptualizing religious practitioners to be ‘knowledge seekers’, it asks what specific aspects of reality are assumed to be ‘unknown’ or even ‘unknowable’ by them. It explores the strategies employed to link religion with the development of knowledge and, in other empirical instances, to accommodate to the fact that certain things can or should not be known.