Exploring Religious Coexistence: A Reflection on the Fieldwork Seminar in Tanzania

MANSA is thrilled to announce the enriching experience that was the Fieldwork Seminar held in Tanzania from October 23 to November 5, 2023. This gathering, conducted in the historically rich regions of Dar es Salaam and Bagamoyo, brought together scholars and students in an immersive learning environment that fostered both theoretical and practical knowledge.

Our president, Sten Hagberg, who also serves as the project leader of the fieldwork seminar, together with Baba Coulibaly from Institut des Sciences Humaines, co-organized this event as part of our commitment to fostering learning through diverse voices and lenses. Their combined expertise set the stage for a unique exploration of how research methodologies can be ‘decolonized’ to better reflect and respect the multifaceted nature of religious practices. The project is entitled, DECOLONIZING RESEARCH METHODOLOGIES: A Research School Programme on empirical data collection, fieldwork relations, ethical challenges, and transnational approaches, is funded by the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet) 2022-2025.

The seminar was meticulously designed to blend lectures and workshops that provoke thought on theoretical and methodological approaches, with vibrant discussions on campus. This setting provided the perfect backdrop for our intensive joint fieldwork in the villages of the Bagamoyo District.

This year’s theme, “Religious Coexistence and Decolonizing Research Methodologies,” was chosen to shed light on the harmonious coexistence of diverse religious communities in Tanzania. It also critically examined the concept of “religion” itself. Our goal was to challenge the hegemonic definitions that have historically oversimplified the complexity of religious practices. By doing so, we delved into understanding how various religious traditions and beliefs intertwine and manifest in the daily lives of the people in Bagamoyo.

As we reflect on the success of the seminar, we are reminded of the power of inclusive and respectful academic inquiry. The seminar not only provided an enriching academic experience but also offered a unique perspective on the social fabric of Tanzanian communities. It is with great anticipation that we look forward to the ongoing discussions and research that will stem from this initiative.

We extend our heartfelt thanks to all the participants, coordinators, and the local communities in Bagamoyo District for their invaluable contribution to the success of the seminar. As MANSA continues to engage with and support significant academic endeavors, we remain committed to the advancement of knowledge that respects and honors the diversity of African social and religious landscapes.

Stay tuned for more updates on our future events and the impactful research outcomes from this seminar.

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