AASR Support Dr Stella Nyanzi

The African Association for the Study of Religions is concerned about the recent arrest and detention of Dr Stella Nyanzi in Uganda. (If you haven’t heard of it, read this item on the Amnesty International website, this article in The Guardian, or this article in the New York Times.)

Dr Nyanzi is a medical anthropologist and a leading scholar in the field of African gender and sexuality studies. Until recently, she was a research fellow at Makerere University. She also is an outspoken public intellectual and a social activist. Most recently she initiated the #Pads4Girls campaign, collecting sanitary pads for girls so that they can continue going to school. As part of this campaign she publicly criticized the President of Uganda as well as the First Lady (who also serves as Minister of Education) for their broken promises on providing sanitary pads for girls at schools in the country. As a result of this criticism, she not only lost her job at Makerere University, but also was arrested and is prosecuted by the State on the basis of cyber harassment of the President.

The African Association for the Study of Religions stands for the right of freedom of expression as well as the right of academic freedom. Therefore our Association, with other African Studies organizations, supports the statement that has been drafted by the African Studies Association Women’s Caucus and the Queer African Studies Association. We call upon our members to add their names as signatories of the statement in support of Dr Nyanzi by following this link.

Elias Bongmba

AASR President

Peace, Security and Development Fellowship for African Scholars

The African Leadership Centre is pleased to announce a call for applications for the Peace, Security and Development Fellowships for African Scholars starting in September 2017. This Fellowship programme is designed to expose junior African scholars to the complexities of security and development issues facing the African continent.

The Fellowship covers an 18-month period, comprising a rigorous training and research programme on peace, security and development, which includes a 12-Month MSc programme at King’s College London and a six-month attachment to an African University to undertake an independent research project. See the call for papers here.

Attacks in Egypt

The African Association for the Study of Religions strongly condemns the terrorist attack on the Mar Girgis Coptic Church in Egypt yesterday in Tanta which killed 25 people and wounded more than 70 others. Later another attack took place at Saint Mark’s Cathedral which killed 11 people. These attack which was carried out at the beginning of holy week demonstrates again the low point to which the disregard for human life has gone, a callous disregard which often makes innocent worshippers the target of violence when dialogue has failed. We extend our sympathies to the families whose loved ones were killed in this attack and the entire Coptic Church family. We note with gratitude that the Grand Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb head of one of Africa’s oldest academic institutions, Al-Azhar University, has condemned this attack. We call on President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to continue to work with the entire Egyptian community to bring peace and justice to all people.

Elias Bongmba

President of the African Association for the Study of Religions

Vacancy Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in African Christianity and African Indigenous Religions

The University of Edinburgh is advertising a vacancy in Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in African Christianity and African Indigenous Religions. See this page for more information.

Joint ARG and AASR Statement on US Immigration Ban

Statement Issued by the African Religions Group in the American Academy of Religion, and the African Association for the Study of Religions, on U.S. Executive Order “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”

January 31, 2017

The African Religions Group (ARG) in the American Academy of Religion (AAR), and the African Association for the Study of Religions (AASR), denunciate the US Executive Order “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.”

In addition to the statement recently issued by the AAR Board, which we fully support, we wish to specifically foreground the fact that three of the seven countries currently targeted by the immigration ban are on the African continent: Libya, Somalia, and Sudan. We are deeply concerned about the fact that colleagues from these countries will not be able to attend the AAR annual meeting, and to participate in ARG and AASR activities during this meeting, as long as the ban is intact. We are equally concerned about students from these countries who are currently studying in the US, or are planning to study in the US, and are directly affected by the ban.

The ARG and AASR are strongly committed to the academic study of all religious traditions found on the African continent, including Islamic traditions, as well as to the active collaboration and the free exchange of ideas between scholars of African religions regardless of their national or religious affiliation. Clearly, the ban hinders us in achieving this mission. Moreover, this ban is in conflict with the decolonial, intersectional frameworks which underpin our academic inquiry and our commitment to epistemic and other forms of justice.

Hence we call upon the members and sympathizers to join the global protests against the ban as a way of expressing their commitment to our mission and core values.

On behalf of the AAR African Religions Group,

Mary Nyangweso and Adriaan van Klinken, co-chairs

On behalf of the African Association for the Study of Religions,

Elias Bongmba, President

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