HomeL’Afrique subsaharienne et les nouveaux christianismes. Économie morale des mutations du christianisme

HomeL’Afrique subsaharienne et les nouveaux christianismes. Économie morale des mutations du christianisme

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Published on Thursday, August 21, 2014


Un demi-siècle après les décolonisations, les Églises se sont recomposées, diversifiées, africanisées. Avec d'autres acteurs religieux en compétition, elles constituent une composante majeure des processus de changement social, culturel et politique qui affectent l'Afrique contemporaine, mais aussi les réseaux diasporiques implantés en Europe. Entre économie morale et économie matérielle, elles dessinent les contours d'une « Afrique indocile » où les nouveaux prédicateurs bousculent le champ politique, entre dynamiques prophétiques, mobilisation sociale et dérives sectaires.



Many religious missionaries have spread Christianity throughout sub-Saharan Africa, with Catholicism the driving force from the 15th century to the 18th. During the period of European colonization, fast-growing Protestant missions competed with and completed the Catholic presence; indigenous ecclesiastical structures gradually formed under the watchful eye of grand “Mother Churches.” That was long ago. The time has passed when African Christianity seemed to be – correctly or incorrectly – synonymous with colonization. African churches now receive fewer missionaries from Europe than the number of prophets, preachers and priests they export to Europe.

Christian churches in Africa have diversified, regrouped and became more African in the half-century since colonialism ended. They compete with other religions – Islam and animism – and constitute a major component of the social, cultural and political changes affecting both contemporary Africa and the African diaspora in Europe. The churches, existing between a moral and a material economy (Triaud, Villalon, 2009), shape an “indocile Africa” (Mbembe 1988) where new preachers upset the political status quo with prophetic exhortations, social mobilizations and sectarian excesses.

These ecclesiastical regroupings have taken many forms, including the development of Afro-African churches; born on the continent, they synthesize practices and endogenous prophetic expressions, such as Tokoism, Kimbanguism and Harrisism. These new churches have been studied extensively (see e.g., Henry and Noret 2008). This special issue aims to focus more on post-colonial reconfigurations of Catholic and Protestant religious practice, particularly the new charismatic, Pentecostal and evangelical forms of expression and socialization.

This special issue will primarily center on Francophone sub-Saharan Africa, without excluding Anglophone areas, since religious networks do not stop at linguistic borders!

The aim is twofold: first describe and analyze the ways these contemporary, Francophone, sub-Saharan Christian religious forms develop, highlighting those growing from Protestant and Catholic roots. Second, use this analysis to evaluate the social impacts of “New Wave” African churches within a post-Arab-Spring context, where uncertainty and urgency characterizes many French-speaking sub-Saharan societies that were destabilized by the fall of the Libyan regime (Véron 2013). The analysis will focus on three questions:

Is there a new Christian pan-Africanism?

Francophone sub-Saharan Africa is no longer a region evangelized by European Christians. Africa now sends priests, pastors, prophets, believers and eulogists to Europe. African Christians living in Europe promote a new Messianism, one with with pan-African overtones, as seen in the congregational slogan, “Africa raises Europe” studied by Fancello and Mary (2010). How will these new constellations of the African diaspora self-regulate? What role will they play in renegotiating identities with former colonizers? What register will be used by this never-before-seen Christian pan-Africanism? How media entrepreneurs do emerge on the television and Internet ?

What lies between “welfare churches” and sectarian deviations?

Mayrargues (2009) observed that “starting in the mid-1990s, a generalized public presence of religious actors, institutions, symbols, and meanings was the common denominator in the various paths countries followed, whether strengthening democracy, restoring authoritarianism, experiencing political crises, or suffering armed conflict.” The clergy’s influence in conventional politics is not all that new. However, the clergy redefined itself on a multi-polar basis, often presenting itself as an alternative to apparently dysfunctional state institutions. In short, “welfare churches” act as influential economic agents in an emerging civil society. Their involvement stems from a part faith- and part business-based entrepreneurial force that is not exempt from sectarian improprieties, such as financial pressure, excessive charisma or miracle markets. Sometimes we see “symbolic predation” that harms the most disadvantaged.

Are civilizations clashing or multiplying?

New Christians in Africa, sustained by globalization, multiplication, and politicization, operate in an increasingly competitive landscape. Francophone Sub-Saharan Africa, a target for evangelical zealots, sees Islam and Christianity renegotiate their secular borders in light of a renewed proselytism, drawing them somewhere between cohabitation and confrontation. Does the settling of sectarian scores in the Central African Republic in the midst of Operation Sangaris, a French peacekeeping mission set up on 5 December 2013, illustrate the controversial “clash of civilizations” paradigm advanced by Huntington (1992), where great cultural and religious blocs oppose one another?

In this special issue, we want to add nuance to a picture that is far more complicated than it seems, without erasing the confrontational and competitive rationales shaping it. Neo-religious factors can also play a role in resolving conflicts, such as by recycling former military leaders, for instance. Beyond fomenting tensions, religious spaces can also foster subjectification and promote choices. Ever-increasing multiplication means that the Francophone sub-Saharan African religious landscape holds many options for new Christians, explorers on the frontier of “African secularisms” (Holder and Sow 2014). 


Triaud, J-L., Villalon, L., J-B. (ed.) (2009). Economie morale et mutations de l'islam. Afrique Contemporaine, 231.

Achille Mbembe, Afriques indociles. Christianisme, pouvoir et État en société postcoloniale, Paris, Karthala, 1988.

Christine Henry et Joël Noret, "Le Christianisme Céleste en France et en Belgique" in special issue "Christianismes du Sud à l'épreuve de l'Europe", Archives de Sciences Sociales des Religions, n°143, 2008/3.

Jean-Bernard Véron. "Quelles retombées des printemps arabes sur l'Afrique subsaharienne ?" Afrique contemporaine (2013/1), n°245.

Sandra Fancello & André Mary (dir.), Chrétiens africains en Europe, Prophétisme, pentecôtisme et politique des nations, Paris, Khartala, 2010.

Cédric Mayrargue, "Pluralisation et compétition religieuses en Afrique subsaharienne", Revue internationale de politique comparée, Revue Internationale de Politique Comparée, 2009/1, vol. 16, p.83-84.

Samuel P. Huntington (1996). The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Gilles Holder et Moussa Sow, L’Afrique des laïcités. État, religion et pouvoirs au sud du Sahara, IRD et éditions Tombouctou, 2014.

Guest editor: Sébastien Fath, Researcher in the Societies, Religions and Secularism Unit of the French National Centre for Scientific Research (or CNRS)

Guidelines submission

Interested authors will submit a one-page précis, describing the topic, argument outline (in brief), and the relevant data or fieldwork; submissions are due

by 28 September 2014.

Please submit your response to this call for papers via our online Editorial Manager

For questions or clarifications, contact Isabelle Fortuit <fortuiti@afd.fr>


This special issues has the following timeline (subject to change):

The editors will select article topics and authors by 04 October 2014.

Selected authors must submit a first draft of their articles by 15 December 2014.

The special issue will be published in the first quarter of 2015.

In their published versions, the articles will be 35,000 characters in length, including spaces, footnotes and bibliography. Each article will be blind peer-reviewed by two experts in the material.


  • Sébastien Fath, Groupe Sociétés, Religions, Laïcités (GSRL) UMR 8582-CNRS/EPHE
  • Jean-Bernard Véron
  • Raphaël Jozan
  • Jean-Pierre Listre


  • Sunday, September 28, 2014


  • Afrique, christianisme, églises, diaspora, prophétisme, pentecôtisme, évangélisme, islam


  • Isabelle Fortuit
    courriel : afcontemporaine [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Sébastien Fath
    courriel : sebastienfath [at] sfr [dot] fr

Information source

  • Nicolas Courtin
    courriel : courtinn [at] afd [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« L’Afrique subsaharienne et les nouveaux christianismes. Économie morale des mutations du christianisme », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Thursday, August 21, 2014, https://calenda.org/297078

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