What impact does Religion studies make in society?


The department of Religion Studies engages in discussions and interactions with society through public lectures and seminars, international connections, and media.

Public lectures

Postdoctoral fellow Dr Hlulani Mdingi presented a three-lecture series on the topic "Black theology is not cheap". 

Public Seminars

In the second semester, Religion Studies will be running a different series of public seminars on Christianity and Society (more details to be communicated).

International connections

Professor Farid Esack completed two of a six weekly lecture webinar series on "Apartheid Israel Through the Eyes of a South African Liberation Theologian" every Wednesday at 7 pm (Central African time) live on FaceBook at "Africa For Palestine". The webinar is hosted by Alex Abbasi, a Ph.D. student in our department, and has attracted thousands of viewers. 

On the 14th of May Esack was one of three International panelists hosted on a University of Chicago webinar dealing with religion and International struggles for justice.

Media

In two separate webinars, Professor Esack interviewed Reverend Edwin Arrison from Kairos Southern Africa and Rev Frank Chikane, Head of the Apostolic Faith Mission in Southern Africa on Christian Liberation Theology and the State of Israel. The interviews, seen by thousands, can be viewed at https://www.facebook.com/Africa4Palestine.

Sheikh Ali Masawudu, a PhD student in our department spoke on Defining racism and how it is manifested differently in Muslim spaces. The talk was at Al Mustafa International University in Qum Iran on the 26th of June.

Jameel Asani who recently graduated with an MA from our department participated in a number of talks: A talk on Racism in Islam in light of the Black Lives Matter Movement with a specific message for the youth; he took part in discussions hosted by Cii Radio and Salaamedia (an online TV station) – The talk was on the role Malawian Muslim migrants have played in shaping African Islam in Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Professor Maria Frahm-Arp has an eleven-episode series on Prophetic Pentecostal Charismatic Pastors airing on DSTV channel 104 for the program Openbarrings.  This is the third series of programmes Maria has been involved in on contemporary Christianities over the last 2 years for the station.

Professor Esack has also conducted three radio interviews: two with Radio Sonder Grense, the national Afrikaans radio station, and one with Radio 786. These discussions dealt with celebrating the end of the Muslim month of fasting under lockdown and the President's announcement that places of religion will be allowed to open during level 3 of the lockdown.

Prof Farid Esack participated in a number of talks:
• On 2 November 2020, he conducted a program with kids on SABC TV 2 on the Rise of Islam in Africa
• On 7 November 2020, he participated in Facts of Faith program on “Whether Islam is in a Crisis” on SAFM. I recommend this talk: https://iono.fm/e/952976 .
• On 21 November 2020, he was interviewed by Indus TV, a national Pakistani channel, on "Legislating against BDS".
• On 28 November 2020, in the evening, he delivered a keynote address to the Department of Political Science at the University of Alberta in Canada. His topic was "Islamic Liberation Theology as Critique: Critical Islamic Political Thought in the Age of Systemic Racism and Exclusion"
Prof Esack hosted two sets of zoom webinar in November:
• On 12 November 2020 - a zoom webinar on “Islamophobia – What can the West Learn From South Africa”. The main speakers in the event were Iskander Abbasi, a PhD student in our department and Professor Aslam Fataar from the University of Stellenbosch
• on 26 November 2020 - a zoom with the world renowned scholar of International Human Rights Law, Professor Richard Falk from Princetown University on his tenure as the Rapporteur-General of the UN in the Situation of the Palestinians. Esack also probed Falk’s notion of the “Pilgrim-Citizen” which challenges notions of objective scholarship. This webinar can be seen at https://fb.watch/1-w0a1qj-5/.
• On 28 November 2020 – he convened a one day International Seminar on Islam Liberational Theology and Decoloniality – partly with physical attendance and partly on the internet.