Client Society for Social Studies of Science Conference
Categories Conferences
Location Boston, MA
Date 2017
URL Launch Project

Relationship between organized religion and the nation state remains an object of scholarly scrutiny. In this framework, religious institutions are always represented by the “people of god/s” rather than the god/s themselves. In fact, the very discourse of separation of religion and state takes the impotence of the involved deities for granted. Seeking to subvert the conception of religious institutions in a secular nation state, this paper focuses on interreligious conflict and negotiation in Ghana where the postcolonial state has become implicated in the subjection of Christian god to scientific scrutiny and has vouched to serve as the ears of Ga indigenous deities. I look at the ritual “ban on noise-making” imposed in the framework of the Ga Homowo festival in Accra. For the past decades, the ban has been successful in preserving the authority of Ga indigenous community in the growing metropolis, especially in relation to Pentecostal/Charismatic churches that have dominated Accra’s soundscape. Building on sonic theologies of Ga indigenous religion and Christianity, I argue that production and restriction of sound in both traditions is determined by and performed for the respective deities. Hence, the involvement of the Ghanaian state in the management of the ban – particularly, decibel-based regulation of Christian worship during the period of the ban, represents an instance of the state appropriating self-regulating power of religious institutions, and more importantly, subjecting the involved deities to civil control.