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The Resilience of Tradition and the Power of Interpretation

Panel Chair: Damaris Parsitau | Thursday, August 27, 9-11 a.m. | Venue

Ramzi Ben Amara

The Question of “purity” of Islam in Post-Revolution Tunisia

The transformation in Tunisia after the breakdown of Ben Ali`s Regime in 2011 affected the country at different levels. Not only politics and economy were influenced by the so-called “Arab-spring”, but also the Tunisian society. Religion seems to have been mostly influenced. It changed from being controlled and oppressed by the Tunisian state to a “non-regulated” Market of religious orientations. The global influence on Islam cannot be ignored, especially the role of other Arab countries. The debate emerged over the question how “Tunisian Islam” should look like? Is it a conservative “salafi” orientation? Is it a Sufi oriented Islam? Is it an open system of religious orientations? This paper tends to explores issues of “purity” of Islam in Tunisia and how religious groups claim authenticity in purifying this religion from indigenous “non-Islamic” practices (Sufism) and from the influence of other existing exogenous religious traditions in the country Christianity and Judaism).

Timothy Baiyewu

The Resilience of Aladura Christianity in a Diversified Religious Market: The Case of the Celestial Church of Christ in Nigeria

This paper examines how the Aladura churches negotiate their resilience within the contexts of faith tradition, media technologies and competitive religious landscape. It describes how the Celestial Church of Christ (CCC), founded in Porto Novo in 1947 and nurtured to growth and transnational church in Nigeria, redefines itself and sustains its relevance in the diversified religio-cultural environment in Nigeria. The paper argues that the relative religious freedom in Nigeria and the market condition in the diversified religious landscape compel the CCC to redefine its spiritual and social programmes. While transforming itself, the church has held on to its integrated beliefs and practices, which to a considerable extent help in meeting the felt needs of members and visitors, and also sustains the church’s niche in the religious market.

Benson Igboin

Aid and Corruption in Gay Discourse: The Resilience of African Culture in a Globalised World

The tension created by the pressure from the West on African governments and the resistance from the latter to anti-gay law across Africa except in South Africa provide a serious philosophical discourse on African culture. The positions are clear: while the West conceives homosexuality as a human phenomenon which is not peculiar to them alone, Africa posits that it is not part of its cultural phenomenon. Thus, African nations outlaw it, an action that springs forth threats of withdrawal or denial of aid. This political strategy has been suggested to be an attempt to corrupt African culture, which has not succeeded largely. This cultural resistance/resilience challenges the omnibus conception that globalisation has conquered every other culture, and even religion, other than the West’s. This staunch display of resilience, it is argued, should be viewed as a challenge to, and further basis for reconstruction of globalization.

Grace Adasi

Redefining Gender Roles in the Presbyterian Church of Ghana

Among several Ghanaian communities roles are assigned based on gender disparities and decision making positions are centred on socio-cultural considerations. This seems to exist in the Presbyterian Church of Ghana (PCG). The study examines gender equity as a theoretical frame using historical methods. This study traces the historical development of the roles of women as Presbyters, Deaconesses, Catechists and the ordination of women ministers in the PCG with the aim of understanding the challenges faced by women ministers in the church. The under representation of women who are playing contemporary roles have created a gender gap in the PCG. Women who seek leadership positions face barriers and often give up because they become overwhelmed in dealing with obvious challenges. In the PCG, women were fully ordained in 1979 after the arguments earlier posed against their ordination. The very issues raised against their ordination have become road blocks against their role performance. Research findings show that women do not get access to occupy some of the top PCG hierarchical positions like the Clerk and the Moderator of the General Assembly. This calls for a re-examination of the criteria for assigning roles in PCG rather than limiting such to gender differences.


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Open Sessions

Thematic Outline

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