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Cluster of Excellence EXC 2052 - "Africa Multiple: reconfiguring African Studies"

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Religious engineering. The making of moralities, development and religion in Niger

Religious engineering. The making of moralities, development and religion in Niger

Research Team


Our interdisciplinary research group studies religious projects of transformation in Niger in their relation to international development. Understanding such projects of improving, developing or transforming the Nigerien society as mutually influencing ethical projects, we want to explore moralities in the making. Along the lines of different cases, we will study how actors relate to “religion” as well as to other actors, projects of transformation, donors, target groups and the state, and ask how and which moralities are generated in and through such multiple processes of relating. Ethics/moralities are thus not conceptualised as the many discrete principles and rules that clash in contexts of competing ethical projects, but as out-comes of the practices and performances of doing ethics.

We introduce the concept of “religious engineering” to describe the transformative efforts of actors who refer to religious resources. In case studies of transnational and local Islamic organisations (Tidjani Alou & Hamissou Rhissa Achaffert), African Pentecostal churches and their social services (Spies) as well as organisations affiliated with the Turkish state (Schrode & Ibrahim Bachir Abdoulaye) we seek to identify kinds of relations (e.g. personal, conceptual, material), modes of relating (e.g. comparing, ignoring, rejecting), and the specific meshworks that make up the particular project of transformation. By this, we aim to show how in contexts of competing, conflictive or incommensurable projects of transformation, moral ends and means are expressed, performed and thus generated. Our objective is to better understand dominant modes of doing ethics, as well as the processes through which they feed back in and (possibly) change ongoing developmental situations and religious practices in Niger.


Four year-project from 10/2020 to 12/2023.

Project details

Webmaster: Dr. Doris Löhr

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