New Publication: South Africa & the Group Areas Act

Cochrane, L. and Chellan, W. (2017) "The Group Areas Act affects us all": Apartheid and Socio-Religious Change in the Cape Town Muslims Community, South Africa. Oral History Forum.

Abstract: Oral history interviews with elders of the Cape Town Muslim community were conducted in order to record and explore the socio-religious changes that occurred over the last century. Our research explored experiences related to culture, society, language, religion, education, traditions, family life, dress, food and values. The primary event that was consistently identified by elders as a focal cause of change was the Group Areas Act (1950), which was a policy of the South African Apartheid government that resulted in the forced relocation of many members of the Muslim community in and around Cape Town, South Africa. This paper explores how individuals experienced the Group Areas Act at the time of its implementation and how elders understand this Act as contributing to long-lasting socio-religious change. Rather than draw conclusions, point to causes of change and outline specific outcomes of the Act, we end this article with diverse, inconclusive and debated experiences: a reflection of the oral histories of the Cape Town Muslim community. 

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Post-doc: State and Disintegration in the Middle East

The CEU Center for Religious Studies and the Institute for Advanced Study at CEU announce the launch of "Striking from the Margins: Religion, State and Disintegration in the Middle East," a two-year research project commencing in September 2016 with a major grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The research program will host host two post-doctoral fellows and two doctoral scholars in its present, initial 2-year phase. The team will be based at CEU using our human and institutional resources, and embedded in an international consortium of partner institutions in Amman, Beirut, London, New York and Paris.

The Project: The project Striking from the Margins: Religion, State, and Disintegration in the Middle East seeks a nuanced and dynamic understanding of the transformations of religion in relation to those of state and social structures, most specifically in Syria and Iraq over the past three decades. It aims to work towards conceptual and analytical vocabularies which would seem adequate to the situation, eschewing facile recourse to culturalist and post-colonialist explanations and lending keen attention to social dynamics, political economy, conjunctural developments and the global setting of comparable developments elsewhere. The project is concerned centrally with processes and mechanisms whereby once marginal sets of social, cultural, political and geographical margins, including religious margins, have been moving to the political centre. This is occurring under conditions which have witnessed the atrophy of state functions and the rise of neo-patrimonial communalist, including sectarian and tribal, formations. In analytical terms, the project deliberately intends to question assumptions about religious or sectarian 'revivals,' 'returns of the repressed,' and kindered analytical terms and categories. Religion had never been absent, but recent decades have seen that the religious field in the Middle East, as elsewhere, reconfigured and redefined, very visibly and within the lifetime of one generation, in such a way as to appear as an alternative historical and social model to existing social, cultural and political practices.

The main thematicareas of the project involve:

  • The reframing of religion and the devolution of religious authority to new actors.
  • The atrophy and devolution of state functions, including some security functions, to informal patrimonial and private actors.
  • Structural marginalization and socio-economic, cultural and geographical segmentation.
  • Transnational jihadist networks and the fulfilment of the margins
  • The theme of gender practices relations, and their transformations in present circumstances of jihadism and neo-traditionalism, is a transversal one that cuts across all the others listed, and deliberate attention will be paid to it.
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Post-doc: Religion & Society

The Global Religion Research Initiative (GRRI) of the Center for the Study of Religion and Society (CSRS) at the University of Notre Dame (IN, USA) invites applications for one or two (1-2), two-year sociological postdoctoral residential research fellowships in the study of global religion, starting academic year 2017-2018 (2-3 additional fellowships will be advertised and awarded the following year or two — in total, four will be awarded over the life of the program).

The post-doctoral fellowships are intended to support the early development of scholars who show promise of distinguished research careers in the social scientific study of contemporary global religions, especially religions in the "global south," beyond the North Atlantic world (i.e., not the U.S., Canada, and Western Europe). The fellowships also intend to help over time to better integrate the study of religion into mainstream social sciences, and in the process to enhance the intellectual community and scholarly activity of the Center for the Study of Religion and Society at the University of Notre Dame.

Each fellowship will provide $48,000 per year in salary for two years (i.e., $96,000 total salary for 24 months), university health insurance, and modest research and conference travel funds. Post-doctoral fellows will be expected to spend the entirety of their two-year fellowships in residence at the CSRS at the University of Notre Dame, IN, to participate actively in the intellectual and scholarly life of the Center (workshops, seminars, social events, etc.), to present their research at sociology department colloquia, and to teach one undergraduate course related to their research per year.

More details.

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Logan Cochrane

logan.cochrane@gmail.com

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