Rethinking Public Religion in Africa and South Asia

Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life

Funded by the Henry R. Luce Foundation’s Initiative on Religion in International Affairs

In fall 2018, the Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life started a three-year project titled “Rethinking Public Religion in Africa and South Asia.” The project will further scholarly and public understanding of the changing dynamics of interactions among religious communities in the modern world, considering the ways in which religion becomes public through diverse forms of encounter.

By attending to the broad array of phenomena that comprise lived religion and its place in public life, our goal is to rethink the concept of “public religion.” The project aims to shift public and academic discourse away from a tendency to foreground discrete religious traditions, sectarian boundaries, and identity politics, which all too often reduces the variety of ways in which religion’s place can be seen within social, political, and cultural life and reinforces the boundaries between communities.

The project establishes a partnership between IRCPL, the South Asia Institute and the Institute for African Studies at Columbia, for research, programming, public events and innovative new courses. This project is made possible by the generous support of the Henry Luce Foundation.