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Moral reform and political challenge: Muslim sermons in East Africa

The project has been funded by the Marie Curie Programme of the EU's FP7 framework and by the Gerda Henkel Foundation's Special Programme on Islam and Transnational Movements. It is led by Dr Felictas Becker.


Becker2Swahili-language recorded sermons offer a prism through which to examine several important aspects of East African and trans-regional Islamic history. In particular, they offer evidence of the interplay of endogenous, place-specific factors and trans-regional religious influences in the growth of an Islamic reform movement, of the entanglement of religious with social and political change, and of the cross-talk between different religious constituencies in East Africa. Last but not least, they provide an inside view into the predicament of a non-elite constituency in post-colonial East Africa. Combining archival and oral history, anthropology and the study of literature, the research interrogates sermon recordings on questions such as: How have they conceptualised development, knowledge and education over time, and how do these concepts sit with the politics of and policies on these issues in East Africa? How have the ways Muslims conceptualise authority structures in Muslim communities changed over time, and how do they account for these changes? How do they relate them to colonial and post-colonial history, and how can their ideas be mapped on regional history as understood from other sources and in other communities? The answers to these questions help put into perspective the growing perception of Islamic reform in East Africa as conducive to political violence and terror.Becker3


For questions on this project please contact Felicitas Becker: