Client Enshrining the Past: Religion and Heritage-Making in a Secular Age. Multiple Secularities.
Categories Conferences
Location Leipzig, Germany
Date 2021
URL Launch Project

“Culturalization,” in the context of the paper, is primarily understood as a state-led process of re-labeling certain religious traditions as “culture” discursively or legally in secular contexts.  While the phenomenon continues to be actively explored in the context of Europe – simultaneously shaping the way it is being theorized, similar processes are relatively unscrutinized in Africa. The choice of the term “culturalization” over “heritagization” allows going beyond the relatively recent conversations on heritage-making and incorporating historical efforts of Christian missionaries to re-label indigenous religions as “culture” in pre-colonial and colonial contexts. The goal of the paper was to illuminate the differences between the processes of culturalization in Europe, where de-churching is accompanied by the heritagization of Christianity into a ubiquitous presence suited for a secular context, and in Africa, where culturalization affects non dominant religious traditions, especially indigenous religions, and functions as a means to block out the latter from the officially recognized “religions.” Building on the author’s research on the topic in the context of Ghana, the paper sought to demonstrate the distinct and often unanticipated outcomes of state-led culturalization across religious and cultural divides, which are in turn informed by regionally specific processes of nation-building, colonialism, and secularization.