Not Available for Download

Education, Religion, and Anthropology in Africa

Posted: 18 Oct 2010  

Amy Stambach

University of Wisconsin - Madison

Date Written: October 2010


Taking as its starting point classic accounts of native education and culture contact, this article reviews key trends and orientations that have shaped the anthropological study of education and religion in Africa. It identifies three frames that capture the development of research chronologically from the 1930s onward: (a) a functionalist focus on Christian-inflected adaptive education; (b) applied and sociohistorical emphases on education as, respectively, an engine for driving secular change and a medium through which to shape new ritualized practices and religious beliefs; and (c) a more recent concentration on youth education as a key site for analyzing politicized religious identity and youths' radicalization. I argue that this trajectory of research foregrounds two phenomena that anthropology also underanalyzes: first, the close association of religious missions with the development of today's highly secularized yet religiously inflected regional and global institutions that support educational programming in Africa; and second, a marginalization of the study of Islam in Africa, which reflects a Christianized cultural legacy in anthropological studies of religion and education.

Suggested Citation

Stambach, Amy, Education, Religion, and Anthropology in Africa (October 2010). Annual Review of Anthropology, Vol. 39, pp. 361-379, 2010. Available at SSRN: or

Amy Stambach (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin - Madison ( email )

716 Langdon Street
Madison, WI 53706-1481
United States

Paper statistics

Abstract Views