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Prof. Insa Nolte: African Christianity and the appropriation of Islam: Imagining the Yoruba nation, 1850s-1920s

May 17, 2023 | 04:00 PM c.t.


Berlin Anthropology Seminars - Summer 2023
Wednesdays, 4-6 pm (c.t.), on-site and online

May 17
Prof. Insa Nolte
Department of African Studies and Anthropology, University of Birmingham

"African Christianity and the appropriation of Islam: Imagining the Yoruba nation, 1850s-1920s"

By the turn of the twentieth century, texts published and discussed by educated Africans in Lagos and West Africa agreed that a Christian Yoruba nation could offer a more peaceful and prosperous form of collective life in the region. While some scholars have seen this debate primarily in response to colonial domination, others have argued that this process reflected the spread of ideas conveyed by the Yoruba Bible through growing literacy.

This seminar sets out a broader trajectory for Yoruba ethnogenesis dating back to the early and mid-nineteenth century. It shows that Yoruba Islamic and traditional practices were central to the emergence of urban and diaspora identities that underpinned the conception of national belonging. Moreover, in the process of translating the Bible into Yoruba, Yoruba-speaking Christians had appropriated Islamic intellectual labour from the 1850s. By the 1880s, many African Christians were concerned that European missionaries’ insistence on monogamy prevented conversion to Christianity and contributed to success of Islam. Over the coming decades, West African Christians and intellectuals drew on Islamic concepts and practices relating to marriage both to establish African-led churches that accepted polygamy and to conceive of a Yoruba nation that was highly gendered, internally diverse, and inclusive.

Join us on-site in the FU Seminar Centre, Otto-von-Simson-Str. 26, 14195 Berlin, room L116.

Or online in our Webex room:
meeting ID: 2731 960 1442, password: BASsummer23

About the Berlin Anthropology Seminars

This seminar series constitutes a joint initiative by anthropologists from the Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology at FU Berlin, ZMO, and Ethnologisches Museum. It intends to shape and cultivate an inclusive platform and open regular meeting point for exchange and discussion on current research by Berlin-based anthropologists. Please spread the word among colleagues, junior or senior, who may be interested. For further questions contact m.oschwald@fu-berlin.de

Organizers: Paola Ivanov, Claudia Liebelt, and Kai Kresse.

Time & Location

May 17, 2023 | 04:00 PM c.t.