Negotiating the Sacred:
Politics, Practice, and Perceptions of Religion in Africa

Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Conference
Stanford University
October 23-24, 2009

From piety in Egypt to HIV/AIDS programming in South Africa, religion provides not only a vibrant subject of study in and of itself but also a lens to refract social, economic, and political relations. The conference brought together researchers from across many fields to discuss emerging approaches, local practice, and transnational movements of religion in Africa and the Diaspora.



Keynote Address by Prof. Saba Mahmood, Department of Anthropology, UC Berkeley
Film Screening, “I Bring What I Love” (Dir. Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, 2009)


Panel 1: The Production of African Religions

  • Keren Weitzberg, Department of History, Stanford University
  • Jesse Davie-Kessler, Department of Anthropology, Stanford University
  • Ariela Marcus-Sells, Department of Religious Studies, Stanford University

Panel 2: Regulating and Challenging Space and Social Roles

  • “Holy Ground: Mud, Materiality, and Meaning in the Djenne Mosque,” Michelle Apotsos, Department of Art History, Stanford University
  • “From Family to Nation: Gender, Sexuality and Respectability,” Danai S. Mupotsa, Department of Women’s Studies, School of Political and Social Inquiry, Monash University
  • “The contribution of Western Colonial discourse in bounding Muslim women’s leadership: an historical case study,” Silvia Bruzzi, Program in African History, Bologna University, Italy
  • Lunch, 1:30 – 2:30 p.m.Panel 3. Giving and Growing: the Religiosity of Aid and Development

Panel 3: Giving and Growing: The Religiousity of Aid and Development

  • “‘Love Is The Answer’: Catholic Charity, Patronage, and Mutima in Central Uganda,” China Scherz, Department of Anthropology, History, and Social Medicine, UC San Francisco
  • “HIV/AIDS in Africa, exploring some Yoruba cultural practices of prevention,” Adebayo Akintunde, Geography Graduate Group, UC Davis
  • “The Emergency Taxi (ET) ride sharing system in Harare, Zimbabwe and religions’ influence on its development,” Brian Young, Independent Scholar

Panel 4: An Extended Continent: Religious links between Africa and Diaspora Communities

  • “‘Spanish, Christian, and Catholic?’ Reinscribing Africa into Dominican History and Identity,” Marzia Milazzo, Comparative Literature Program, UC Santa Barbara
  • Brandi Hughes, Department of Religious Studies, Stanford University

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