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Gifford, Paul (2016) 'Religion in Contemporary Senegal.' Journal of Contemporary Religion, 31 (2). pp. 255-267.

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Senegal is usually classified as 90% Muslim and 5% Christian. But Senegal’s dominant religious imagination is far different from anything suggested by classical labels like ‘Muslim’ or even ‘Sufi Brotherhoods’. The pervasive religious imagination sees spiritual forces at play everywhere and understands causality primarily in spiritual terms. These spiritual forces can be manipulated by individuals gifted with such powers (marabouts), positively for one’s advancement or negatively to counter or even bring down competitors or opponents. This enchanted religious imagination, often given an Islamic character, is obtrusive in Senegal’s major sports: lutte avec frappe and football. It is inescapable in politics, as politicians admit their recourse to marabouts and even more often accuse opponents of it. For women maraboutage is particularly employed for domestic realities: a husband, children, domestic security. The courts regularly feature cases arising from this imagination. The phenomenon merits research, not just to clarify the nature of Senegal’s religion itself, but also for its effects on the country’s socio-political development generally.

Item Type: Journal Article
SOAS Departments & Centres: Legacy Departments > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Department of the Study of Religions
ISSN: 13537903
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 04 Sep 2016 09:56

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