Education, Religion, and Anthropology in Africa

Amy Stambach

University of Wisconsin - Madison

October 2010

Annual Review of Anthropology, Vol. 39, pp. 361-379, 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.

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Date posted: October 18, 2010  

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: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1692546 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev.anthro.012809.105002

Contact Information

Amy Stambach (Contact Author)
University of Wisconsin - Madison ( email )
716 Langdon Street
Madison, WI 53706-1481
United States
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