P 41

Emotional Connections – Religious Cultures in Africa

Panel abstract
Although the history of emotions is a booming field, historians of Africa have rarely taken up this approach. And yet the history of emotions is crucial for a better understanding of many fields, among them spirituality and religiosity. Cultures of religious preaching and teaching often rest upon the emotionalization of adherents and students. This panel analyses religious cultures in Northern, Eastern, and Central Africa and their forms of expression in the emotional realm. It aims to take a closer look at these processes of emotionalization from the perspective of African religious actors such as students at religious institutions, religious authorities, preachers, and lay persons.
We will explore the role of emotions in the circulation of spiritual ideas and practices between regions as well as across denominations; the emotional regime of religious education and the relationship to secular education; bodily expressions of spiritual identities in Islam, Christianity, and African-initiated churches in Northern, Central, and Eastern Africa. Generally, the panel seeks to provide a wider understanding of the flow of spiritual ideas and practices and the role emotions play in these flows in the present and the past.

Time: Friday, 29/06/2018, 11 am - 1 pm
Venue: Hörsaalgebäude, HS 17

Stephanie Lämmert (Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin)
Liese Hoffmann (Berlin Graduate School Muslim Culture and Societies)

Joseph Chita and Nelly Mwale (University of Zambia, Lusaka)
Tarcisius Mukuka (St Mary's University, London, UK)
Liese Hoffmann (Berlin Graduate School Muslim Culture and Societies)
Tamara Turner (Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin)


Paper abstracts

Joseph Chita and Nelly Mwale
‘Men of God’ and Broken Vocal Cords: Exploring Zambian Pentecostal Pastors’ Expression of Spiritual Identities

Though the use of emotions in religion is widely acknowledged, African and Zambian studies in particular have not explored the emotion and spiritual identity interface amid growing association of broken vocal cords with men of God in Pentecostalism. Hence, this paper interrogates the use of broken vocal cords among the ‘men of God’ as an expression of spiritual identity. This is deemed significant not only for contributing to the body of knowledge but underscores the price the ‘men of God’ are willing to pay for their spiritual identities through broken vocal cords. An interpretivist case study was employed in which raw data (video of sermons and pastoral ministries) and documents were analysed and interpreted. Pentecostal ministries and men of God were purposively sampled. The findings revealed that these ‘men of God’ had limited knowledge of their clinical condition patterning to their voices; instead they perceived it as spiritual gift. As such, the voice not only communicated the spiritual emotions of the ‘men of God’, but was also used to attract and satisfy congregants (religious marketing) through assuming a ministerial ‘identity’. The paper argues that while broken vocal cords among the ‘men of God’ were an expression of their spirituality and emotions, it imprinted an identity not only on themselves but Zambian Pentecostalism too. Therefore, bodily expressions such as broken vocal cords are carriers of cultural meanings, emotions, and spiritual ideas.

Tarcisius Mukuka
Orality, Emotionalization, and Textualization in Mutima African Initiated Church

In keeping with the theme of the Conference of the German Association of African Studies in Leipzig from 27–30 June, 2018 this paper will argue that the success and longevity of the African Initiated Church, Mutima, founded by Emilio Mulolani, can be largely explained by a healthy tripartite symbiosis between orality, emotionalization and textualization in the doctrine and praxis of its adherents. As a break-away church from the Roman Catholic Church of Northern Rhodesia’s 1950s, Emilio Mulolani first corrected what I have referred to in my doctoral dissertation as ‘orality as casualty’. He bases this on the Bemba myths of origin in their journey from the West to the East summarized in the common saying «Ubufumu e busosa» [Royalty is characterized by orality]. This is instantized in the largely oral liturgies, the writings of Emilio Mulolani, and the praxis of the adherents of Mutima Church. Orality in turn becomes the vehicle for the emotionalization of the spirituality of Mutima and the conduit for this emotionalization is the dual focus on devotion to the sacred hearts of Mary and Jesus. During his life time, all the liturgies of Mutima Church were conceived and textualized by Emilio Mulolani himself and thereby constituting the third part of my tripartite characterization of Mutima African Initiated Church.

Liese Hoffmann
‘Solidarity (Mshikamano), That’s What We Learn in Madrasa!’: On Kinship and Sectarian Border Crossing in Muslim Tanga

This paper discusses the interpersonal affect involved in every day Islamic education and practice within an East African ‘Arab’ family and its neighbourhood surroundings in the pre-dominantly Muslim Tanzanian coastal town of Tanga. The town’s contemporary history of Islamic factionalism has been well documented. Before embarking on my ethnographic field work (with research interest in Islamic education), I had thus presumed that my middle class host family would surely maintain a fixed affiliation to a certain Muslim faction. However, to my surprise, the affiliations within the family network which includes Islamic teachers and patrons were manifold, including Sufi, Sunni, and even Shiite Islam. Even more surprising was that everyday interpersonal attentiveness, trust, and solidarity (mshikamano) were cultivated within this family network, irrespective of Islamic affiliation. Individual boundary crossing through participation in contested Islamic rituals such as maulidi and contact to rival madrasas seemed commonplace. I thus argue that the affective cultivation of kinship ties, in the case of this extended family network, is more important for the development of Muslim sociality than are local Muslim politics.

Tamara Turner
Moving Towards Feelings: Emotional Cultivation and Release in Algerian Popular Islam

In western Algeria, many different Sufi turuq (orders) share ideas about the divine and its manifestation in daily life; the most active and vibrant ‘orders’, however, are those that are sometimes nominally ‘Sufi’ or are Sufi-like and are most clearly understood to be variants of popular Islam. For example, the Divan of Sidi Bilal consider Bilal, the first muezzin (caller to prayer) as their ‘spiritual father’ of their order (Bilaliyya) even while he was not a shaykh (spiritual guide) nor did he have a lineage (silsila) of disciples and teachings – technical conditions of Sufi hierarchical organization. However, much like the more technically Sufi Aissawa, Qadriyya, Taibiyya orders, there is a strong emphasis on community-based, music-cantered rituals wherein adepts cultivate various altered states of consciousness through the movement towards and release of emotion. In most of these rituals, the cultivation and expression attends to mental-emotional suffering of the adepts so that, underlying the process, there is an approach that moves towards feeling, even towards suffering, so that it can be more fully felt, embodied, manifest, and visible. In turn, private suffering is rendered public, therefore acknowledged, released, and cared for by others. This ideal is not always achieved: sometimes suffering manifests as resistant patterns of pain or as burdensome supernatural contracts with non-human agents. At the heart of the ritual practice and these varying conditions, however, is the prioritization of feeling and movement towards and with that feeling, highlighting the critical personal, social, and political roles of emotion in this religious lifeworld.