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Benedikt Pontzen (Alumnus BGSMCS)

Bene P_skaliert

Zongo – Muslim Communities among the Asante (Ghana)

PhD Research (2010 - 2014):

Zongo – Muslim Communities among the Asante (Ghana)

Our project aims at the compilation of an ethnography of a Muslim community in a non-Muslim context. Zongos are the wards of Muslims and strangers in the Asante Region in Ghana, in the local context they are seen as places of Islam. We want to describe how Muslims in these wards conceptualize, experience, live, practice,... Islam which serves as an integrating and differentiating device for them. Migrants from different backgrounds find themselves in these wards where they integrate into a community of believers and share common values as Muslims. The zongos are integrated into wider Muslim networks within the region and part of the global umma. As the people in the zongos come from various backgrounds they have various languages, cultural traditions and different conceptions of Islam. It serves as a differentiating device for them as well as they negotiate and disagree on their conceptions and practices of Islam. And they know about their local particularities and ideas which differ from other places which makes them none the less part of the global umma, the community of believers in one Islam.

We conceive of Islam as a discursive tradition consisting of many and diverse strands which none the less interweave into one common thread. There is an ongoing debate on what it means to be a Muslim which permanently rearticulates and reshapes itself opening on agreements as well as on incommensurabilities. This is an ongoing process which shall be described in and through its local context, in which the people of the zongos live their lives.

First Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Kai Kresse

Second Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Georg Pfeffer

Third Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Ulrike Freitag