ISTR AFRICA CIVIL SOCIETY
RESEARCH NETWORK CONFERENCE
11-13 July 2013
Call for Papers
Faith, Civil Society and Development
Religious institutions are key structural components
of civil society. The historical and future development of modern Africa is
intimately tied to the forces of belief and religion with some of the most
prominent manifestations of civil society on the African continent being Faith
Based organisations (FBOs). Faith and belief featured in both colonial penetration and in anti-colonial
struggles in the continent.
Moreover, FBOs often fulfil critical
functions in social service provision in areas such as health and education, in
influencing government policies, as well as in advocating on behalf of poor
people and marginalized. FBOs have also featured
prominently in recent African socioeconomic and political history, in human
rights crusades and democratization struggles. Framing their demands on the basis of a
liberation theology, for instance, FBOs teaming with other civil society actors
and opposition political parties played a huge role in organising and
mobilising people to act against socioeconomic and political injustices in
society as well as in the agitation for new constitutional order in Kenya. In Northern African countries, they have recently
been instrumental in electoral outcomes.
In short, FBOs are critical constituent elements of social development
and in Africa’s politics. Arguably therefore, besides ethnicity, faith is a significant
variable influencing governance, conflict, and the nature of the African nation-state.
Despite increasing recognition of faith –
for good or ill - as an inescapable factor in the continent’s development, in
social scientific analysis, faith has not been accorded adequate attention. To redress this relative neglect, at a
conference to be held in Nairobi in 2013, the ISTR Africa regional network conference shall be examining manifestations of faith
and its influence to civil society, governance and development in Africa.
Specifically, we seek papers that address
the broad question of how faith has affected group and individual relations, civil
society, governance and the process of development on the African continent. Papers
should broadly focus on the many, often contradictory, roles faith plays at
both national and transnational levels with a view to addressing the following
subthemes and questions:
Faith and governance in Africa. How has
and does faith affect the mechanics and trajectories of governing in Africa?
Religion/faith and democracy in Africa. How is faith influencing the processes of
democratization either positively or negatively on the continent’s states? Does
faith add to or mollify the suppression of the individual needs of social groups
(e.g. women and immigrants) and dissenters in the public and political sphere?
Faith and conflict in Africa. To what
extent has faith contributed to social cohesion and integration or been a
source of conflict and divisiveness in Africa?
How has faith induced challenges to state stability, equality and
development in Africa? To what extent have conflicts in African countries
including but not limited to Somalia, Kenya, Nigeria, Mali, and Sudan been
influenced by faith and religion? How has faith influenced the generation,
responses and resolution of conflict and attendant humanitarian crisis on the
Faith and the political economy of development: How has the political-economy of faith based development aid in
Africa shaped patterns of social organisations and development in Africa?
Faith and values in Africa: How has
faith shaped values in civil society and society in general? What does a faith
lens reveal about the nature of civil society in African countries?
The relationship between Faith Based civil society and secular civil
society in Africa. What is the nature of relationship(s) between
FBOs and secular civil society in Africa? What determines the nature of the
relationship? Are there differences in
development outcomes driven by religious based civil society and the secular
Faith and social capital in Africa. How has faith contributed to social capital in
both its bonding and bridging forms and what are the implications for state
stability in Africa?
Faith and class formation in Africa. How
have beliefs and faith been mobilized in the interest of class in Africa?
Faith and the public sphere in Africa.
Obadare (2007)has observed an uneasy and
unstable relationship between religious forces and the public spheres as
religious forces simultaneously complement but also undermine the public
domain. To what extent do observations made of Nigeria cascade to the rest of
African nation states? Is faith marginal even in the so-called secular states
Faith, philanthropy, giving and volunteerism in Africa. Does faith inspire and inform patterns of giving and receiving
assistance between Africa’s populations?
Faith and service provision. What would
access to social services look like on the continent if it were not for the
presence of faith based organisations and why?
Abstracts of between 500 and 700 words
should be submitted to Dineo Seabe at firstname.lastname@example.org
by 15 February 2013.