Better the Devil You Know: Religious Mobility, Trust, and Familiarity among Urban Christians in Kenya

Colloquium with Dr. Yonatan N. Gez
Activity Date: 
Monday, May 28, 2018

The speaker discussed the centrality of the familiar as a domain of religious orientation and possible reengagement, and proposed that, in Christian urban Kenya, this centrality is to be understood in light of the in-built fragilities of the religious landscape, and above all the challenge of trust. He suggested that the notion of the familiar offers necessary orientation for navigating the uncertainties of Kenya's religious landscape, and showed how this manifests in hypothetical discourse as well as in concrete practice. The familiar, he proposed, serves as a central point of reference for practitioners, and a useful heuristic for scholars, with concrete ramifications for understanding religious mobility. Elaborating on three little-explored concepts—religious territories, religious return mobility, and the gift of discernment—he demonstrated how the acquisition and mapping of the familiar manifests in links between religious pasts, present, and hypothetical futures.

Photographer: Anais Ginoux