Convened by Birgit Meyer (Utrecht University/ZMO), Abdoulaye Sounaye (ZMO), Marloes Janson (SOAS), Kai Kresse (Columbia University/ visiting fellow BGSMCS)
Across Africa, Christians and Muslims co-exist in shared settings, defining themselves in distinction to each other and at times engaging in heavy, violent conflicts, but also being entangled in complicated ways and showing unexpected similarities. In current scholarly research on religion in Africa, the study of Christianity and the study of Islam are thriving, but alas so far these study fields exist more or less independently from each other. This trend is to some extent further
enhanced by the recent deployment of distinct anthropologies devoted to separate religious traditions. Scholars with expertise regarding either Christianity or Islam barely engage in conversations with each other. And yet, the long history of encounters between Muslims and Christians – involving a complicated dynamic of becoming similar and asserting difference, of approach and detachment – calls for an encompassing conceptual framework that is devoted to draw out similarities, differences and entanglements. There is need for a broader conceptual umbrella, which entails a comparative orientation, a concern to synthesize the domains of text and doctrine and everyday religious practice, and a combination of historical and ethnographic research. This calls for a multidisciplinary collaboration among scholars from history, religious studies, anthropology, Islamic Studies and the study of world Christianity. Building upon a number of recent scholarly works, it is the central aim of this summer school to further the development of a conceptual framework for the study of Christianity and Islam in multi-religious settings in Africa, and beyond. We seek to do so by synthesizing conceptual reflection on comparison and comparability in regard to multi-religious settings with detailed historical and ethnographic studies that focus on concrete encounters and interactions among Christians and Muslims in such settings, which also include other religious traditions (e.g. Hinduism, Buddhism, and so-called traditional religion).
This summer school is an initiative of the project Habitats and Habitus. Politics and Aesthetics of Religious World-Making hosted at the ZMO, which seeks to further the development of comparative approaches to the study of Christians and Muslims in Africa, especially in urban multi-religious settings, and beyond.