Islam, Public Space and Cosmopolitism in Senegal: Between Local, National and “Universal”

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 4:00 PM
Room: 304
Oral Presentation
Kae AMO , EHESS, CEAf, Paris, France
In Senegal, as well as in other sub-Saharan countries, Muslim communities have been contributing to a development of public spaces. In capitalcities like Dakar, Bamako or Niamey, Muslim dynamics framed by various Islamic events (conferences, religious meetings or festivals) take place in different areas in the city, new mosques are inaugurated every year in suburbs, Islamic television and radio networks diffuse their own programs and sometimes broadcast live different activities and rituals (prayers, pilgrimages), etc. Some recent works analyze this trend as an emergence of new modern “public islam” developing in West Africa, promoting Islamic moral and social values through younger generation (Samson) and, in some cases, connected to universal religious revival or “reformism” in Arabic countries (Holder). Today, Islamic dynamics are changing the whole sight of African societies, promoting both local and national identities, developing transnational networks, adapting to various influences and thus, improving what we can even call, new Islamic cosmopolitism.

Based on case studies in Senegal, this paper analyses the roles of Islamic dynamics and their symbolic performances in the recent political and social change in Senegal. The reconstruction of public spaces by Muslim communities and their cosmopolitism can be seen as a solution to various problems that State and society are facing today in the process of political modernization.

What are the features of new (local, national or transnational) Islamic dynamics and what are their roles in the (re)construction /(re)organization of public spaces in Senegal? What are the relations between the state politics, Islamic transnational networks and the local initiatives? How local, national or “universal” Islamic identities are bounded each other through public spaces? What kind of theoretical work can be possible to analyze these socio-cultural and political trends?