Accepted paper:

Islam and New Urban Landscapes in Dakar (Senegal): Politics, TIC, Youth and Femininity


Kae Amo (EHESS)

Paper short abstract:

In Dakar, Muslim groups have been transforming urban landscapes. Media-literate and involved in politics, youth and women are the most involved in this dynamic. This paper focuses on the Muslim groups and individuals, their inter-relations and the (re)creation of new spheres of communication.

Paper long abstract:

Since the late 1980s, new types of Muslim leaders and young disciples have been emerging throughout Senegal. Using their own multimedia tools and transnational networks, these religious groups - notably Sufi groups (Muridiyya and Tidjaniyya) but also Sunni Islamist movements - have proven their capacity of self-governance. Muslim communities in Senegal have always maintained close ties with both State authorities and the population, a phenomenon referred to as the "brotherhood-based Republic" (Bayart). So-called "marabouts of youth" such as Mustapha Sy and Modou Kara Mbacké became popular in the 1990s among youth opposing the traditional collusion between religious leaders and politicians. Involved in politics, this new movement has been increasingly challenging the Establishment thanks to their ability to navigate through different spheres and values. In this religious dynamic, youth and women have most visibly and profoundly changed Dakar's urban landscapes. Their bodies transform urban spaces on a daily basis through collective prayers, religious ceremonies, conferences or political meetings organized on the streets. In addition, their networks as well as their use of new technologies of information and communication (TIC) shape the way in which citizens organize their life. Religious media devices (radio, television, mobile applications…) as well as information networks change the perception of Muslim groups, which today have become true business entrepreneurs. Based on participatory observations conducted from 2005, this paper focuses on the various uses of urban spaces by different Muslim groups and individuals, their inter-relations, and the (re)creation of new spheres of communication.

panel P179
Urbanity, Religiosity and Inter-Religiosity in Contemporary Africa