Dr Insa Nolte introduces the Knowing each-other research project in the Department of African Studies and Anthropology.
My name is Insa Nolte, I’m a Senior Lecturer in African Studies. I currently work on a project called ‘Knowing Each-other’. That project looks at an are which I’m familiar – the Yoruba speaking area of south-west Nigeria. It explores the many ways in which Muslims, Christians and traditionalists, or followers of traditional religious practices get on with each-other. The way they often participate in each-others festivals or significant events; the way they manage inter-religious marriages; they way they facilitate general co-operation between members of different religions. That research is quite important, I think, because currently we see a lot of conflict, especially between Christians and Muslims in many parts of the world, but also in Africa. I think beyond studying causes of conflict, it’s quite important to look at ways in which some groups also manage to avoid conflicts.
We are looking to some degree at group relationships – so public debates between Christians and Muslims, but we are also very very interested in every-day life. One of the ideas of this project is that by looking at peoples ever-day life experiences – marriages, every-day participation in peoples festivals – we can also find out what attitudes and basic understanding of the other are really reflected in this behaviour and perhaps learn from them, and use this to think about inter-religious relations in other parts of the world.