Building on recent scholarship on African and global cities, this panel stream solicits papers and panels that explore and examine the multifarious ways in which religion is part of contemporary African urban worlds – both on the continent and in the diaspora. The new urban worlds that emerge in Africa and elsewhere are full of paradoxes: of urbanity and rurality, tradition and modernity, informality and formality, of public and private spheres, of the religious and the secular. With AbdouMaliq Simone and Edgar Pieterse (2017) we are interested in the ways in which people individually and communally inhabit these paradoxes and the dissonant times these reflect and constitute. More specifically we are interested in the ways in which religious beliefs, practices, infrastructures and imaginaries shape these paradoxes, on the one hand, and enable people to inhabit them, on the other. We conceptualize African urban worlds as spaces of both alienation and belonging, fragility and creativity, precariousness and inventiveness, survival and aspiration, secretion and revelation, indifference and mobilisation. Yet first and foremost we think of these worlds as spaces of religious experimentation, innovation and transformation.
We envision at least two panels, one exploring the intersections of religion with the socio-economic and socio-political dimensions of African urban worlds, and one exploring artistic and otherwise creative expressions and negotiations of religion and African urban world-making.