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Doctoral seminar: “Religious Practices and Spatial Appropriation at the University of Ibadan” by Adejoke Rafiat Adetoro and Vincent Favier

Location: IFRA-Nigeria’s library, Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan

Date: Tuesday 25th of February, 2pm to 5pm

On Tuesday 25th of February, from 2 to 5pm, IFRA-Nigeria hosted a research seminar at IFRA-Nigeria’s library themed on “Religious Practices and Spatial Appropriation at the University of Ibadan”. The event was facilitated by Adejoke Rafiat Adetoro and Vincent Favier.

The doctoral seminars are an opportunity for the PhD candidates to present their first findings and methodologies and get feedbacks from their peers. Adejoke Rafiat Adetoro and Vincent Favier are both PhD candidates within the research project “RemoBoko: Religion, morality and Boko in West Africa. Students trainning in a good life”. This particular seminar focused on one aspect of their research which is the religious practices and territoriality/spaces as observed at the University of Ibadan.

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 About the RemoBoko research project

Remoboko is a study of religiosity and how it affects secular education (boko, in Hausa) in West Africa. It focuses on the presence, competition and conflict between secularism, Salafism and Pentecostalism on two campuses (Université Abdou Moumouni, Niamey, Niger, and University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria). It examines how students that seek a degree that would insure them a better life, resort to Salafism and Pentecostalism. How boko in this context is both appealing and rejected is at the core of the project. The RemoBoko project is based at Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient of Berlin (ZMO). IFRA-Nigeria coordinate the research activities in Nigeria.

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The workshop was divided into 2 presentations: 

Adéjọkẹ́ Rafiat ADÉTÒRÒ

Religiosity on university campuses may have assumed some new appearances. In the early years of the University of Ibadan, the various religious groups also have students’ organizations such as the Student Christian Movement, the Christian Union, the Federation of Catholic Students and the Muslim Students’ Association. The subsequent proliferation of Pentecostal fellowship from the1970s is recorded as an aftermath of the ‘explosion’ of charismatic movements in the Christian faith. Meanwhile, the Muslim students managed to maintain a singular unifying body to coordinate their religious expression. Presently, what then are the largest religious gathering at different phases? What constitute these religious practices and what do these organizations offer to the participants' lifestyle; in terms of social life? Using participant observation, an examination of how widespread the teachings and practices of Islam are, among the current undergraduates at the University of Ibadan and the nature of that teachings and practices was carried outs. By particularly paying attention to their spatial occupation and use, the activities and elements that constitute their social curriculum, and interactions with the larger university environment. 

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Vincent Favier

Christian fellowships at the University of Ibadan practice their religion in many different places. Aside from the official ones like the Chapel of the Resurrection and the Catholic Church, Pentecostal fellowships gather for different kind of religious activities in informal spaces on the campus. The most famous of these spaces is undoubtedly the car park of the Chapel. Also called “Tarmac”, it is the favourite meeting point of many – if not all – fellowships, whether they organise a Bible Study or perform a prayer service. I approach these practices as performances that do not only serve “spiritual” purposes but are also made visible in a public space. The tarmac is a crucial space, located between three different religious institutions: The Chapel, the Church and the Mosque. This space can be symbolically and physically qualified as a “crossroad of religions” where religious cohabitation is historically loaded with tensions and appropriations. In this established constellation, student fellowships have progressively pervaded this space and made it an immaterial place of worship. Fellowships have also “hi-jacked” and appropriated spaces in the student halls, like rooms, cafeterias, or even built their own places outside the halls. These developments challenge the university authorities and questions the institutional functioning of a university campus while they reshape social interactions in an academic environment.

We were honoured by the presence of Prof Marc-Antoine Pérouse de Montclos as well as Dr Mutiat Oladejo during the seminar. 17 PhD and Master students of UI interested in the topic also attended the event and constructively discussed the presenters’ findings and analysis.

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