Betreute Promotionen und Habilitationen

Aktuell betreute Dissertationen

'Between belonging and rejection': The relationship of Charismatic churches in Ghana and traditional African culture

Doktorand: Justice Arthur

Kurzbeschreibung: This research investigates the ambivalent relationship between Evangelical Christian groups and traditional African religions and cultures. Specifically, the project examines Christian charismatic groups in Ghana who frequently claim to be authentic representation and interpretation of African Christianity, yet these new churches that sprang up in the last forty years repudiate many aspects of African indigenous cultures and practices, thereby generating tensions and conflicts between their members and those belonging to African indigenous religious formations. In the last decade, with the numerical growth of these new churches, tensions and disagreements between them and indigenous religious formations have often resulted into bloody crises, sometimes in fatalities as well. This study therefore aims to examine critically the complex encounter between the Charismatic churches and traditional African cultures in order to understand the basis for these conflicts. A qualitative case study method has been adopted in this research. The work involves two key Charismatic churches, namely the International Central Gospel Church (ICGC) and Lighthouse Chapel International (LCI), in an attempt to understand their beliefs, the doctrines they espouse and their relationship with African cultures. Leaders and youth groups from the Ga-Dangbe ethnic group in the Greater Accra Region will also be interviewed to provide updates to existing documented material.

Managing Irreecha Ritual: Religion and Politics in Post 1991 Ethiopia

Doktorandin: Serawit Bekele Debele

Kurzbeschreibung: Following the 1991 change of government, Ethiopia endorsed the ideology of ethnic federalism, which states the rights and equalities of all of the many diverse ethnic groups living in the country. Government is declared to be secular, with a clear separation of church and state. The state is also declared to be a secular state which separates state and religion. The constitution also addresses the question of religious freedom. Many different religions mushroomed as a result of the state’s secular stance, in stark contrast to previous governments. Although the constitution states that the government shall not interfere with religious affairs, this has not always been the case in with respect to the revival of religious groups. This is witnessed in a number of instances in which the government acts against the constitutional provision of separation. In this context, the research mainly focuses on the Oromo religion called Waqqefana in post-1991 Ethiopia. It employs two main components of the Oromo religion, the Qallu institution and an annual ritual called Irrecha, to study the dynamics of government intervention and determine whether the religious areas spaces are apolitical. The research will investigate what goes on in Waqqefana religious areas that forces the government to interfere, thereby breaching its own commitment to secularism. The objective of the study is to describe and analyse how the religious space in post-1991 Ethiopia is appropriated and used by different actors including the government and the reasons accounting for it through a critical engagement with the two elements of the Oromo religion.

Witchcraft Accusation: A Case Study of Northern Ghana

Doktorand: Leo Igwe

Kurzbeschreibung: The belief in the occult, magic and witchcraft in sub-Saharan Africa is a very strong one. This belief, which has its roots in African cosmologies and religions, is pervasive and endemic. It is invoked as an explanatory tool in economic, political and social spheres of activities in contemporary Africa. It is also an important theme in both the ‘etic’ and ‘emic’ discussions of African philosophy, ethics and justice systems. Although predating Islam, Christianity and colonialism, witchcraft beliefs in Africa have been modified by the introduction of these two world religions and European imperialist interventions. Witchcraft beliefs are most manifest in witchcraft accusations which have escalated in the face of Africans’ confrontation with disruptive globalising influences. In the context of increased social media penetration, witchcraft accusations and their social trajectories have achieved increased visibility in Africa. This study investigates the increased witchcraft accusations in Northern Ghana where there has been a proliferation of what are generally called “witch camps”, which are the material consequences of witchcraft accusations. "Using the ethnographic research methodology as well as the concepts of labeling, legal pluralism and forum shopping, this study aims at reconstructing cases of witchcraft accusations in Northern Ghana, paying critical attention to the social, political and economic contexts that produce and sustain such accusations.

Hindu Temple Ritual Worship in Durban, South Africa

Doktorandin: Tina Ziva Kopecka

Kurzbeschreibung: The project explores a specific religious identity by investigating sources and dynamics of contemporary public Hindu ritual practices in the city of Durban, South Africa. The research focuses on Amman worship with special emphasis on the fire-walking festival and Murugan worship and, in particular, its Kavady rituals, as annually practiced at and mediated by the temples in Durban. Empirical research analyses the way in which rituals develop within the context of post-colonial and multireligious society, how these rituals are negotiated, appropriated and framed and how they are experienced, remembered and narrated – in other words, how they continue and process the local Hindu tradition by creating the various spaces – physical as well as social and symbolic – where their prestige and legal authority, just like South African Hindu identity, is located, displayed and confronted. The project aims to contribute to the documentation of the reconstitution of a particular culture – i.e. religious identity in a rapidly changing and multicultural South African environment – while enquiring into the possibilities of linking cognitive and practical theoretical approaches that account for religious and ritual innovation.

Religion and Nature: The Case of Matobo National Park and its Vicinity

Doktorand: Kupakwashe Mtata

Kurzbeschreibung: This study seeks to explore on-going encounters between European colonial and African autochthonous ontological designs of human-environment relations in contemporary Africa, with Matobo National Park of Zimbabwe as a case study. Notions such as nature, culture and religion came to southern Africa through the global processes of missionary activity and colonization. These ideas were not simply transmitted to Africa in their abstract form but as discourses embedded in social, cultural, economic, and political practices. The establishment of national parks is one set of such practices entailing an orientation to the environment which is such that nature is contrasted with culture. This ontological design encountered another, prevalent among southern Africans. Among other features, the different ontological designs assign different values and roles to religion and acquire diverse religious values and roles. The study particularly strives to assess the continuing interaction of different “nature” ontologies and their religious or anti-religious bases and effects and the associated visions of the future in and around the park. The history of the park from its inception to the end of the first two decades of the post-colonial era is well documented. However, there have been notable developments since then.

Modernizing Indigenous Priesthood and Revitalizing Old Shrines: Current Developments on Ghana's Religious Landscape

Doktorandin: Genevieve Nrenzah

Kurzbeschreibung: This project is about the contemporary resurgence of indigenous religions on Ghana’s religious landscape. It pays particular attention to the agents involved in the transformations, their activities, worshippers, their indigenous religious practices, the strategies they are adopting and the overall implications of the developments for an understanding of the contemporary indigenous religious fields of Africa in general. This study would employ ethnographic research methods in collecting information on the main agents of the resurgence (priests), their shrines/clients, workers/helpers, subscribers/adherents, non-worshippers, fans, consumers and natives of the locations of study. The geographical locations of the study are Akomadan-Afrancho and Obuasi in the Ashanti region, Azuleluanu in Western Region, Moree near Cape Coast in Central region and Atimpoku-Adome in the Eastern region of Ghana.

Conceptualizing Witchcraft - Investigating the Cultural and Cognitive Dimensions of Magic-Related Discourses in West African Context: A Case Study

Doktorand: Idris Riahi, M.A.

Kurzbeschreibung: This project suggests an investigation of witchcraft in West African context. Both the level of cognitive conceptualisation, and the discursive dimensions emerging from there will be analysed. Furthering interdisciplinary research, this project combines social scientific, cognitive linguistic and cognitive theories and methods in the scientific study of religion to cover social representations that target communities refer to as witchcraft. Consequently, our work addresses the following questions: What can we learn about human religious thinking exemplified by the salience and prevalence of the witch as a counterintuitive agent? How can we understand the social function of witchcraft in context of other religions? And what new light will cognitive theories of religions shed on the discussion of witchcraft? To tackle these problems we suggest a study composed of three broad steps: a) empirical field research based upon cognitive linguistic methodology in communities in West Africa, b) widening the scope of data collection to discourse analysis in which the findings of step a can be grounded, c) delivering an evaluative and conclusive discussion of steps a and b with special regard to religious thinking. In this way we hope to contribute to an understanding of the versatility of the conceptualisations of witchcraft and their relation to religions in West Africa.

Abgeschlossene betreute Habilitationen und Dissertationen


Dr. Asonzeh Ukah (2013)
Kumulative Habilitation

Dr. Oliver Freiberger (2008)
Habilitationsschrift: Der Askesediskurs in der Religionsgeschichte: Eine vergleichende Untersuchung der hinduistischen Saṃnyāsa-Upaniṣads und der frühchristlichen Apophthegmata Patrum


Timothy Baiyewu (2014)
Dissertation: The Transformation of Aladura Christianity in Nigeria

Gemechu Jemal Geda (2014)
Dissertation: Pilgrimages and Sycretism: Religious Transformation among the Arsi Oromo of Ethiopia

Ramzi Ben Amara (2012)
Dissertation: The Izala-movement in Nigeria: Its Split, Relationship to Sufis and Perception of Sharia Re-Implementation

Heiko Wedemeyer (2012)
Dissertation: Die Religionspolitik des Kaisers Julian. Ein inklusiver Monotheismus in der Spätantike?

Dirk Johannsen (2008)
Dissertation: Untersuchungen zur Verwendung des ‚Numinosen’ als religions-wissenschaftliche Kategorie. Die Religionstheorie Rudolf Ottos und die norwegische Sagenwelt.

Katharina Wilkens (2007)
Dissertation: Religious Healing in East Africa. A Case Study of the Marian Faith Healing Ministry

Selone Kuponu (2007)
Dissertation: The Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel), Nigeria. Pentecostalism, Prosperity Gospel and Social Change in Nigeria

Ilinca Tanaseanu-Döbler (2005)
Dissertation: Konversion zur Philosophie in der Spätantike. Kaiser Julian und Synesios von Kyrene

Asonazeh Ukah (2004)
Dissertation: The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Nigeria. Local Identities and Global Processes in African Pentecostalism

John Wotsua Khamalwa (2001)
Dissertation: Imbalu: Initiation Ritual among the Bamasaba of Uganda

Akinyele Omoyajowo (1999)
Dissertation: The Emergence and Shaping of an African Independent Church: Christ Apostolic Church of Nigeria

Afe Adogame (1998)
Dissertation: Celestial Church of Christ: The Politics of Cultural Identity in a West African Prophetic-Charismatic Movement