In what ways—under the eight year dictatorship of Idi Amin—was religion made public? Amin came to power in 1971 at a conjuncture in the history of technology: the new broadcasting capacities of radio allowed him to govern as a dictator, to set the pace of public life, to obliged everyone to march to the same tempo. Religion had to be reoriented. The space for dissident forms of Christianity and Islam was radically narrowed; pentecostals, Bahais, Adventists and other nonconformists were imprisoned, their property was seized, and their religious lives were foreclosed. At the same time new standards of religious conduct—particularly the notion of ‘African Traditional Religion’—were given substance in scholarship and in public culture. It was part of a process by which political life was evacuated of competition and loyalties were centred around the president.
This lecture is part of the Rethinking Public Religion in Africa and South Asia project at IRCPL (in collaboration with the Institute for African Studies and the South Asia Institute). The project is funded by the Henry Luce Foundation.
This event is cosponsored by the Department of History.