Religiosity on University campus
Abdoulaye Sounaye (Leibniz Zentrum Moderner Orient)
Chrystal McMillan, Seminar Room 2
Wednesday 12 June, 8:45-10:15

Short abstract:

Once dominated by secular ideologies, universities are now arenas of religious competition. Religiosity has become a major force as religious groups compete for the souls of students.How is this affecting the University? What alternative visions of self, state and society result from these dynamics?

Long abstract:

University campuses in general are spaces of debates and encounter between competing ideas, value systems and epistemologies. This certainly hold true for contemporary Africa. Once dominated by leftist movements and secular ideologies, many African universities are now growing into arenas of religious competition. As a result, religious groups have become major forces, each claiming precedence over the other as they compete for the "souls" of the students. Some claim this process is nothing but a readjustment of an institution that has been for too long informed by colonial values, and for that reason has remained foreign, unreligious and disconnected from the broader society. Resorting to "God squads on campus" and "Jihad Week," others argue for the need to morally redress the course of an institution that is supposed to train an elite responsible for the wellbeing of its people. Still others fight to "decolonize" the university. As these groups resort to religiosity and insist on the dangers of dismissing God, how are these dynamics affecting the University as a learning and training institution? What alternative visions of the self, the state, and the society are emerging out of these dynamics? Calling for a critical examination of these developments, the panel seeks to discuss the reconfiguration of the relationship between the secular and religiosity on University campuses in Africa. Prioritizing ethnography, the papers to be presented on this panel will pay a particular attention to the last fifty years.