Religion and the Political Imagination

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Politics and the Religious Imagination

Research Articles. Lexington Books, Lauren Benton and Richard Ross. Bang and C.

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September Parikh, The Annual Review of sociology 17, XXIV, Indeed, the transition to liberal democracy in Europe replaced local or regional affinities by a form of national affinities, and the vision of a modernizing Africa seems to be conceived in the same way. But in order to protect a fruitful relationship between state and society in Africa, kinship and clan solidarities have to be conceived as having both a private and a public face.

Moreover, the strict distinction and even opposition between State and society that characterised the western conception of civil society must be put into question. These Local Councils, in every village, based on a system of democratic election, are not considered by the population as a part of the government.

Where those councils are not locally legitimate, they simply cease to exist. Local Councils in Uganda therefore mark a partial return to an earlier model of relations between State and society, prior to the transition from absolutist monarchies to liberal nation-states in Europe.

Religion and the Political Imagination

The strict distinction between public and private interest directly exclude the religious sphere from the definition of civil society. In other words, Izala contributed to a public sphere of discourse that differed from European formulation of civil society- in which religion is markedly absent. Questioning the notion of civil society, presenting it as historically and culturally frozen in a western liberal conception, is also a means to question the assessment made by western political scientists about Africa.

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In a more general way, this issue raises the question of representation of the population, which is nowadays a central concern for the reform of governance. The very notion of governance implies the participation of the forces of civil society in the collective process of decision-making of the country.

Political Imagination

But this assumption necessitates an ability to designate the forces that represent popular aspiration. The debate around the notion of civil society is thus a central element of the construction of a new form of democratic governance.

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Rethinking the notion of civil society in the context of Africa. Auteur : J.