African Religions

The field African Religions is a multidisciplinary inquiry that involves the study of indigenous religions of Africa, the Christian Tradition in Africa, Islam in Africa, and African Religions in the Diaspora including Pentecostalism, Santeria, Vodun and Candomblé. Research in African Religions uses historical, ethnographic, phenomenological, theological, ethical and philosophical approaches.

Students working on indigenous religions can do research on historicity, symbolism, cosmology, rituals and ritualization, ethics, religion and healing, religions and political power and religion and literature. Students working in religion and healing are encouraged to participate in and take classes in the Department of Bioengineering’s program on global health.

Students working in the Christian tradition can focus on the history and growth of Christianity in Africa from antiquity to the present in areas that include: the early Church in North Africa, The Ethiopian Christian tradition, missionization, post Vatican II developments, New Religious Movements, Pentecostalism, Church State Relations and Political Theology, Christianity and Global Health. Other research areas include studies of the Bible and early Christian Origins and African Christianity. Our program also encourages research into Christian independency and growth of Pentecostalism, Christianity and gender, and religion and society. In theology, ethics, and philosophical reflection, students can do research on critical thinking in the Early Church in Africa, the modern era, with special emphasis on 20th century developments in liberation theology, Feminist theology, hermeneutics, religious and theological ethics, and philosophical ethics in the African context.

Students doing work on Islam in Africa could focus on Islamic literature in West and North Africa. Other areas of emphasis include Islamic thought and practice in Eastern and Southern Africa with emphasis on social impact of the Islamic tradition in Africa. Students can take courses with other faculty members to meet requirements in African religion such as Dr. Anthony B. Pinn, Dr. April Deconick, Dr. Matthias Henze, Dr. John Stroup, Dr. Alex Byrd, Dr. Susan McIntosh, Dr. Jeff Fleisher, Dr. Kerry Ward, Dr. Daniel Domingues.

Course of Instruction
RELI 111 Introduction to African Religions
RELI 113 Introduction to Christianity in Africa
RELI 158 Liberation Theologies
RELI 282 Introduction to Christianity
RELI 328 Religion and Global Poverty
RELI 338 The Church in Africa
RELI 340 Theology in Africa
RELI 342 New Religious Movements in Africa
RELI 348 Christianity and Islam in Africa
RELI 371 Christianity in the Global South
RELI 396 Pentecostalism
RELI 423 African Myths and Rituals
RELI 424 Religion and Politics in Africa
RELI 426 Religion and Literature in Africa
RELI 528 Religion and Global Poverty
RELI 534 Religion and Politics in Africa
RELI 536 Christianity and Islam in Africa
RELI 537 African Myths and Rituals
RELI 540 The Church in Africa
RELI 548 Liberation Theologies
RELI 561 Christianity in Global South
RELI 595 Pentecostalism

Faculty Contact: Elias K. Bongmba