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Localising Salafism: Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies.
2008 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The political transition in 1991 and the new regime’s policy towards the ethnic and religious diversity in Ethiopia have contributed to increased activities from various Islamic reform movements. Among these, we find the Salafi movement which expanded rapidly throughout the 1990s, particularly in the Oromo-speaking south-eastern parts of the country such as Hararge, Arsi and Bale.

This dissertation, based on findings from an extensive fieldwork, sheds light on the emergence and expansion of Salafism in Bale. Following the Salafi movement’s development from the 1960s to 2006, it first deals with its early arrival at the end of the Imperial period (late 1960s). Secondly, the study focuses on Salafism during the Marxist period (1974-1991) before discussing the rapid expansion of the movement in the 1990s. The movement’s dynamics and the controversies emerging as a result of the reforms are discussed, particularly with reference to different understandings of sources for religious knowledge and the role of Islamic literacy.

The study demonstrates how the religious reforms were connected to wider political, socio-economic and cultural changes, in the sense that improved means of communication paved the way for increased travelling and flows of new ideas into Bale. The study underscores the significance of agents in the process of change, and focuses on the roles of local reformers and Islamic scholars returning from studies in Saudi Arabia in the late 1960s. It also sees the reciprocal process between agents and audience and between stimulus and response as crucial in the process of religious change. This is connected to the issue of localisation and the ways new ideas are coloured by the particularities of the context in which they are introduced. Although Salafism has the character of a trans-national movement, the ways it was remoulded in Bale demonstrates its diversity and points to the importance of locality in construing Salafism.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Institutionen för etnologi, religionshistoria och genusstudier , 2008. , 370 p.
Keyword [en]
Ethiopia, Bale, Islam, Salafism, Religious Change, Locality, Ethnicity, Identity
National Category
History of Religions
Research subject
History of Religion
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-8367ISBN: 978-91-7155-791-9OAI: diva2:200163
Public defence
2009-02-05, De Geersalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 8 A, Stockholm, 13:00
Available from: 2009-01-15 Created: 2008-12-09 Last updated: 2010-10-21Bibliographically approved

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