Seminar: The Spiritual Highway: Religious World Making in Megacity Lagos

The Spiritual Highway

This seminar, which accompanies the new exhibition (1 July - 30 September) at the ASC of photographs taken by Akintunde Akinleye, maps the conversion of Nigeria’s former capital, Lagos – often described as an ‘apocalyptic megacity’ – into a Prayer City. Since the late 1980s, numerous Christian and Muslim prayer camps have sprung up along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. Subsequently, this highway has grown into a stage for the performance of public religiosity, earning it the moniker, the ‘Spiritual Highway’. Visiting prayer camps as a means of solving problems related to health and wealth occurs on a grand scale in Nigeria, characterizing the Pentecostal upsurge. Muslims have responded to the Pentecostalization of Nigeria’s cityscape by establishing their own prayer camps. The photographs shed light on the mutual borrowing of prayer styles and images between Christian and Muslim prayer camps. In order to grasp the ways in which religion is ‘lived’ in daily life, we must bridge the division of labour between scholars studying Christianity and those studying Islam, bringing the two religious traditions together in a comparative framework.

Marloes JansonDr Janson's research is at the intersection of anthropology and religion. West Africa (the Gambia, Senegal and Nigeria) are her ethnographic areas of specialization. She has conducted ethnographic research in the Gambia since 1996 on various research projects relating to popular culture, oral history, Islamic reform, gender and youth. In 2010 Dr Janson switched her research field to Lagos, Nigeria, where she is exploring the emergence of Chrislam, a religious movement that fuses Christian and Muslim beliefs and practices. Her research interests are reflected in her teaching. Before joining SOAS in 2012, she has been a researcher at the Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO) in Berlin.

Date, time and location

17 September 2015
15.30 - 17.00
Pieter de la Courtgebouw / Faculty of Social Sciences, Wassenaarseweg 52, 2333 AK Leiden
Room 3A06 (third floor)