Louise Müller

Asian Tigers and their religious ideology in Africa
My current research interests lie in the effects of religious-ideological developments in Africa as a result of China’s and India’s growing interests in this continent. Since the end of the Cold War we live in a multi-polar world. The shifting balance of wealth and power away from the USA and Europe to e.g. the Asian emerging powers (India and especially China) enlarges the need of the West to enhance understanding of the activities of the Rest, also in Africa.

China’s and India’s primal interest in Africa is in minerals and oil, which makes them rivalling economic powers to Western countries in Africa. In spite of this, are these Asian tigers also religiously-ideologically investing in the African continent? It is often presumed by economists that they are - unlike the West - primarily interested in Africa for their own economic gain in such a way that one also speaks of a ‘Second Scramble of Africa’. The Asian Tigers are in need of raw materials to feed their fast growing economies similar to the Western countries during the period of the Industrial Revolution between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Recent statistics, however, demonstrate that China and India are also investing in over ten thousands of scholarships for African students, and they also send their scholars and experts to Africa to educate Africans. Besides, both China and India are building an increasing number of religious institutions in Africa, and in many West African countries including Ghana Hinduism is the fastest growing religion.

Religion, Media and Chieftaincy in Africa and its Diaspora
The interests for my study in progress grew out of my doctoral research on religion and chieftaincy in Ghana. For my PhD, I focused on the relationship of Asante traditional authorities (queen mothers and chiefs) with Christian and Islamic religious institutions and with the state. I brought a wide range of sources together from historical archives (including PRAAD in Ghana), and my fieldwork in Kumasi. This included conducting interviews with Asante chiefs and queen mothers and their subjects, church leaders, chief-imams and Moslem headmen, religious organizations and local media institutions, participant observations in religious rituals, establishing relationships with community members and archivists. My findings were that the study of religion provides a deeper understanding of the persistence of chieftaincy as an institution, and that the existing studies that aim to explain the persistence of chieftaincy in Ghana focussing on perspectives drawn from the political, juridical and economic sciences are incomplete.

For my present research, I also drew inspiration from my postdoctoral research at Utrecht University as a viewer and analyzer of West African films (Ghanaian films and Nigerian films (Nollywood) and of the reception of these films among Africans in Southeast Amsterdam. I observed that films are different from but also show many similarities with Indian films (Bollywood).

Educational background
My degrees are in African Studies (Msc. and PhD) with a focus on History and Religion/Philosophy and Development Studies
I obtained a BA and an MA in History and in Philosophy (Erasmus University of Rotterdam).