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The Public Face of African New Religious Movements in Diaspora: Imagining the Religious "Other.".

The Public Face of African New Religious Movements in Diaspora: Imagining the Religious "Other."

Edited by Afe Adogame. Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2014. Pp. vii, 289. 75 [pounds sterling]/ $119.95.

The Public Face of African New Religious Movements in Diaspora, a publication in the Ashgate INFORM series on minority religions and spiritual movements, is a significant contribution to understanding the presence and roles of African-led religious movements around the world. The editor, Afe Adogame, was a senior lecturer in religious studies and world Christianity at the University of Edinburgh at the time of the publication of this volume; currently he is the Maxwell M. Upson Professor of Christianity and Society at Princeton Theological Seminary and also is general secretary of the Association for the Study of African Religions. He has published widely on issues investigated in this volume. In his introduction (1-28), Adogame states that "generally, public understanding of [African New Religious Movements] is grossly inadequate and speculative" (2). For the editor, "new religious movements (NRMs) refer to non-mainstream religions within the African context ... some [with] increasing institutionalization and ... public roles that endear their visibility and social relevance" (5-6). He notes that "this is a wide categorisation that is susceptible to generalisations" but argues that this definition "marks a departure from popular definitions as cults and sects" (6).

Since this volume "seeks to provide new theoretical and methodological insights for understanding and interpreting ANRMs and African-derived religions in diaspora" (18), the lack of a chapter on theory or methodology is surprising. In fact, as is often the case for edited publications, the volume does not have a theme or main point articulated throughout, and each contribution seems to stand alone. This deficiency makes reading the book sometimes laborious. The thirteen chapters of the book, written by scholars from a variety of disciplines and countries, are mostly case studies of aspects of Africanderived religions in Brazil (chaps. 1 and 10), Britain (3, 6, 11-12), Canada (specifically Quebec, 7), China (5), France (4), Germany (13), Senegal (9), Sweden (8), and the United States (6). In contrast to the rest of the contributions, chapter 2 explores the globalization of an Oromo (Ethiopian) religious ritual. The strength of this work lies in the documentation of the complexity of African-led religious movements.

As indicated in the introduction (24), the book has a very broad readership in mind. Readers of this journal who have interest in religion in Africa and in diaspora studies will find this publication most useful.

DOI: 10.1177/2396939316657938

Reviewed by: Tite Tienou, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, IL, USA

Reviewer biography

Tite Tienou, a contributing editor, is research professor of theology of mission and dean emeritus at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He worked with the Christian and Missionary Alliance in theological education in Cote d'Ivoire from 1993 to 1997.

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Author:Tienou, Tite
Publication:International Bulletin of Missionary Research
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jul 1, 2016
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