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Biographies of Religious Engagement

Much more has been written on the social and political significance of religion in public life than on their personal and individualist dimension. And relatively little has been written on how individuals adjust, change and jettison earlier religious identities and perceptions, and replace them with new ones or none at all. The project focuses on Islamic activism since 1970s as a case study for this inquiry. It closely examines the religious meaning for individuals who have been engaged in and committed themselves to Islamic activism over a long term. It also pays attention to the construction of a religious discourse among these activists, facing on the one hand, deep political and social changes, and multiplying religious responses on both collective and individual levels. This fracture context provides an opportunity to closely interrogate the meaning of belief, its possible change and modification from the perspective of those involved over a longer period of time. The project examines the construction of religious identities and religious conceptual maps.

The project will be conducted at three sites in Africa, chosen for their divergent histories of Islamic activism. Doctoral and post-doctoral fellowships are offered to study Islamists in biographical perspective in South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt. Please send a brief proposal and CV to Centre for Contemporary Islam, Room 5.45 Robert Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus, UCT, Phone: 021 650 3889 (09h00 - 13h00 daily), Email: Nabowayah Kafaar, Website: