P153
Religious Minorities in Africa. Urban areas as crossroads: meeting points, safe heavens, and stages

Convenors:
Isabella Soi (Università degli Studi di Cagliari)
Filippo Petrucci (Università di Cagliari)
Format:
Panels
Location:
KH111
Start time:
29 June, 2017 at 16:00
Session slots:
1

Short abstract:

This panel analyses the relationship between religious minorities and urban dynamics, with a special but not exclusive focus on Jewish and Muslim minorities. Papers using different disciplinary approaches are welcome, especially those offering a critical analysis within a comparative perspective.

Long abstract:

Through the study of African cities we can observe how different social groups mingle and merge, whilst protecting their own space. The experience of religious minority groups has been emblematic of processes of segregation, integration or separation that many societies in the continent are experiencing or have experienced. Urban areas represent in some way both the division and sharing of power, resources and public space. Urban space becomes a symbol of the social, political and economic roles of all groups that live in it. It can be a source of new cultures, languages and identities, as much it can serve as a paradigm for building national identity. Although urban areas may create a 'trap' when minority groups are forced to live in the same neighbourhood, they are often the only refuge for those minorities otherwise at risk. They often represent a shelter but also a place where they can be visible, affording a tool that they can use to safeguard their identity and ensure their survival. The spatial and performative aspects are lived out in daily life and in a complex relationship with the efforts of municipal authorities to plan and to regulate. The panel aims to analyse the relationship between the various religious minorities and urban dynamics in Africa, with a special focus on Jewish and Muslim minorities, but without excluding other religious realities. The goal is to discuss different cases using a multidisciplinary approach, proposing a critical analysis of historical political and economic legacies in a comparative perspective.