Religion and Politics: A Critical Study of the Politicization of Islam in Kenya.
The project will explore the proliferation of religious artifacts by conducting a field study in coastal Kenya through the appropriation of Islamic Studies and social anthropology methods. The study proposes to explore two aspects related to the transmission of Islamic knowledge. Firstly, I will examine Muslim women preachers through the media tools of CDs/DVDs and radio broadcasting programmes as teachers and religious authority vis-à-vis their male counterparts in society. More so, the study will examine the (de)-construction of traditions, concepts and practices resulting from the interaction and communication through the mediated sermons. This effort has the potential to generate new understanding into the shifting gender roles in African Muslim communities thereby allowing me to study the interaction between technologies of knowledge transmission and the challenge it presents to the mosque sermons dominated of the male clerics. Therefore, I propose to conduct a field study to explore the emerging changing gender role among a cluster of female Muslim preachers in coastal Kenya (Mombasa, Malindi and Lamu). The second strand elongates my study of mediated Islamic knowledge to certain media tools and their appropriation among Kenyan Muslims as evident in the production of CDs/DVDs and religious radio programmes. Recently, Kenya has witnessed a vibrant production, distribution and, consumption of audio visual and radio broadcasting religious programmes, which have had a unique explosion of Islamic ideas. Consequently, a field study will be undertaken to examine to the preachers, the radio stations, recording ‘studios’ and the resultant products in analyzing the influence of technologies of knowledge transmission on the negotiation of religious meaning. The two strands would bring forth vital consideration regarding adaptation and creativity among Kenyan Muslims.