New AASR Executives Installed, 7th September 2020

On September 7th , 2020, the AASR installed its new executive, most notably including the Association’s first female President. The installation, held over zoom, connected members throughout the globe and included many heartfelt expressions of the meaningful work the Association has done in the past, and steadfast commitments to its work in the future.

Most movingly, Njoki Wane constructed relevant rituals to mark the occasion, including libations, laying on of particular fabrics for each incoming member, and kind words of encouragement. Wane installed Damaris Parsitau as President, Abel Ugba as Vice-President, Nathanael Homewood as General Secretary, and Sara Fretheim as Treasurer. In her new role, Damaris shared an inspiring vision of the Association’s future.

Amidst the excitement, it was also a moment to thank two stalwart members of the Association, without whom the Association would be much the lesser. Long-serving President Elias Bongmba (Handing over Remarks [PDF]) has been indefatigable in his efforts to ensure the Association’s vibrancy. Meanwhile, Corey Williams has filled the role of General Secretary with notable organization and grace. While their leadership will be sorely missed, both pledged to remain active in the Association, a promise that many will undoubtedly hold them to.

As the new executive begins its term, it is also an excellent time for members to recommit and reengage with the Association and its varied goals. The Association is only as strong as its diverse and impressive membership, and there are plenty of opportunities for members to
contribute to, dream with, and strengthen the Association. If you are interested in contributing or becoming a member, please reach out to any of the members of the executive.

Nathanael Homewood

Zoom meeting

Interview with Laura Grillo!

We are pleased to share that Dr. Elisa Prosperetti chose AASR member Laura Grillo’s book, An Intimate Rebuke: Female Genital Power in Ritual and Politics in West Africa (Duke UP 2018), to feature in the Podcast New Books Network. A historian specializing in modern Africa with particular knowledge of Côte d’Ivoire, Elisa was a keen and informed interviewer. It will be sure to draw attention to the book’s timely theme: The postmenopausal ‘Mothers’ deploy their spiritual power to decry immoral leadership and demand justice, without which there can be no peace!

To listen to the interview, please go to:

Featured New AASR Executives

Dear AASR members,

We are writing you as co-chairs of the Nomination Committee for the new Executive of our Association.

Earlier this year, in March, we have written to you with our proposal of nominated candidates for the new Executive, following a process of consultation of the membership. This proposal was as follows:
• Office of President: Dr Damaris Parsitau (Egerton University, Kenya)
• Office of Vice President: Dr Abel Ugba (University of Leeds, UK)
• Office of General Secretary: Dr Nathanael Homewood (De Pauw University, USA)
• Office of Treasurer: Dr Sara Fretheim (University of Münster, Germany)
This proposal was sent in an email to the membership and was published on the AASR website. It was also supposed to be published in the AASR Bulletin, but as a result of the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, publication of the Bulletin has been delayed. Our apologies for that, but we trust you appreciate the circumstances.

In our earlier communication we invited counter-nominations to be submitted by 22 July 2020. This date has now passed, and we have not received any submissions.
In the absence of counter-candidates, our above nomination was supposed to be affirmed at the IAHR quinquennial World Congress in New Zealand in August 2020. However, the IAHR Congress has been cancelled as a result of the pandemic.
For the sake of the smooth, continued functioning of our Association, the election must proceed. This is also the position taken by the IAHR for their own elections.

As Nominations Committee we had already proposed that in the absence of counter-candidates, an (online) vote would not be necessary. This is in line with the IAHR Constitution and the IAHR Rules of Procedure, which the AASR Constitution is based upon, which in Rule 16g states: ‘Those whose candidacy is unopposed shall be declared “elected unopposed”.’ Following these considerations, and in consultation with the current Executive of our Association, we are pleased to declare our nominated candidates for the new Executive to be ‘elected unopposed’. The official handover of duties will be on 23 August 2020, which is when the IAHR Congress was originally set to begin.

We trust that you will join us in warmly congratulating Dr Parsitau, Dr Ugba, Dr Homewood and Dr Fretheim on their election, and will offer your support to the new Executive as they lead our Association in the coming five years.
We further trust that you will join us in expressing our sincere thanks to the members of the outgoing Executive, in particular the departing members, Professor Elias Bongmba and Dr Corey Williams. Together with the members who continue to serve on the new Executive – Dr Parsitau and Dr Ugba – they have provided visionary leadership to our Association, and we owe them our gratitude and respect.

Herewith we have completed the task entrusted to us as Nomination Committee. We thank you for your confidence in us.


Professor Njoki Wane
Professor Adriaan van Klinken

Also on behalf of our committee members:
Dr Rose Mary Amenga-Etego
Dr Chammah Kaunda
Professor Danoye Oguntola-Laguda

Elias Bongmba, is the 2020 Ray L. Hart Service Award Winner

Source: AAR Website

The American Academy of Religion (AAR) has announced Elias Kifon Bongmba (AASR former President) as the recipient of the 2020 Ray L. Hart Service Award.

“Elias Bongmba is Harry and Hazel Chavanne Professor of Christian Theology and Chair of the Department of Religion at Rice University. A scholar of comparative philosophy, African religions, and Christian theology, he has published influential books and articles on African witchcraft, the African Church’s response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, comparative hermeneutics, and African theology, ethics, and literature. In 2007 he was awarded the Frantz Fanon Prize for Outstanding Work in Caribbean Thought.

Professor Bongmba has served on a variety of AAR steering committees, committees of the board, and juries. His record of service extends far beyond the walls of the academy. He has advised governmental, educational, and church bodies both in his native Cameroon and throughout Africa. Bongmba has also lectured throughout Africa on social justice issues, including poverty, gender, disability, and homosexuality. He has been editor-in-chief of the Journal of Religions in Africa, and has served for the past ten years [2010-2020] as president of the African Association for the Study of Religion.

Congratulations to Elias Bongmba on receiving this important award!”

AASR Statement on the Death of Mr. George P. Floyd

The members of the African Association for the Study of Religions around the world received
the news of the death of Mr. George P. Floyd with sadness and watched in horror the video of a
police officer kneeling with both legs and his hands in his pocket as the already handcuffed Mr.
Floyd laid on the ground and complained that he could not breathe. The 8 minutes and 46
seconds captured on the video show to many viewers killing in slow, painful motion in a process
that despised and took away the humanity of Mr. Floyd, but ultimately his life.

The killing of Mr. Floyed reminds the world of the killing of Emmett Till, 1955
The brutal beatings of Mr. Rodney King and the acquittal of the officers involved in 1992 and
the riots that was sparked by that injustice,
The murder of James Byrd Jr. in Jasper Texas in 1998,
The killing of Eric Garner in 2014,
The Killing of Michael Brown also in 2014, and the rise of the Black Life Matter Movement
The killing of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia
The killing of Breonna Taylor in how own house in Louisville

And the Shooting of Tony McDade in Tallahassee.
Add to the above the many other brutal killings of black men and women that were not captured
on camera or publicized. These killings and the national and international response to them
underscore the importance and significance of the Black Lives Matter movement. It has called
attention to the brutalities meted on Blacks nowadays which demonstrate the obscenity of life
along the color line. They underscore the urgency of addressing the brutalities Blacks have
experienced since they were forcefully brought to the United States from 1619. Today, the world
stands with Blacks in the United States and call on Congress to pass and enforce legislation that
will ensure that Blacks receive equal treatment before the law as guaranteed by the Constitution
of the United States of America.

The African Association for the Study of Religions will continue to carry research and analysis
that exposes all forms of discrimination and injustice around the world and call on all other
institutions to study and fight discrimination to ensure that all people live their lives with dignity
and freedom. We call on the leaders of the United States of America to open a national dialogue
on race that would create the conditions for national reconciliation.

Elias Kifon Bongmba

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