Mediated and Mediatization of Islamic Knowledge in Kenya: Educational Institutions, Media Technologies and Performative Aesthetics
The project will explore the production and transmission of Islamic knowledge as well as the religious artifacts and institutions involved in these processes in Africa, with a focus on the case study of Kenya. Coming from the disciplinary and methodological angles of Islamic Studies and social anthropology methods, we propose to analyze the ways in which Islamic knowledge gains significance for Kenyan Muslims through various means of transmission, including established educational institutions (madrassas and Islamic-integrated schools), poetry, works of art, and various media technologies. Our aim is to shed new light on the dynamics and workings of Islam in Africa, by studying the changing means of knowledge production, transmission and shifting epistemologies as represented in the appropriation of the various available spaces as means of religious learning in selected locations in Kenya.
The study proposes to investigate two aspects related to the production and transmission of Islamic knowledge and learning. Firstly, we will examine the competing madrassa (religious schools) and Islamic-integrated schools (semi-secular or semi-religious) in the production and transmission of Islamic knowledge, focusing on the standardization and consistency in curriculum delivery in the two systems of education. The second strand elongates our study of mediated and mediatized Islamic knowledge to certain forms of performative aesthetic and media technologies, along with their appropriation among Kenyan Muslims as evident in the production of religious CDs/DVDs, radio religious programmes and spiritual poems. Consequently, a field study among key informants and institutions to analyze the influence of established educational institutions, performing art and technologies of knowledge transmission on the negotiation of religious meaning. Therefore, the two strands have the potential to generate a new understanding of the nexus of Islamic learning and religious authority in African Muslim communities, and promise to shed new light on the adaptation and creativity in the transmission of Islamic knowledge among Kenyan Muslims.