Multi-religious encounters in precarious urban settings

2019 - 2024
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While most research on religious pluralism has been conducted within the framework of secular-liberal democratic states, this collaborative and comparative project will explore multi-religious encounters in three sites not typically seen as possessing secular-liberal civil societies: Kenya, Pakistan, and Italy. The sites are similar in having served historically as places of encounter for major religions, but also different in relation to their contemporary socio-political configurations. With each offering a different vantage point on religious pluralism, the wider project aims to contribute to theorising about religious co-existence that moves beyond normative ideas of tolerance, which tend to dominate scholarly thinking on pluralism. My research within the larger project will focus on post-colonial Christian Kenya, Kenya, a multi-ethnic, -racial, and -religious society, which has been implicated in the global ‘War of Terror’ and where social tensions are increasingly made sense of through religious idioms. Rather than foregrounding the lives of a particular group of religious practitioners, as the anthropology of Christianity and of Islam tend to do, I will focus on multi-religious encounters in urban Kenya to explore how Christian and Muslim Kenyans (have come to) coexist and how their pursuit of social mobility may generate mixing and borrowing across religious lines that are otherwise taken to be incommensurate.

Principal Investigator


Leslie Fesenmyer (University of Oxford), Ammara Maqsood (University College London) and Giulia Liberatore (University of Edinburgh)


European Research Council

The John Fell Fund, Oxford