Thu 24 September 2015 | WHAT's NEW?! | Varieties of Religious Belonging and Identity Among the Yorùbá of Ogbómòsó, Nigeria | Corey Williams

On Thursday 24 September, Corey Williams delivered a lecture on religious belonging and identity among the Yorùbá in Nigeria in the lecture series "WHAT's NEW?! Current Research on Islam and the Middle East."

Varieties of Religious Belonging and Identity Among the Yorùbá of Ogbómòsó, Nigeria

Nigeria is among a handful of countries in which no single religious tradition commands a dominant majority. Its unique multireligious composition includes not only the largest Muslim and largest Christian population among African countries, but also an important substructure of African Indigenous Religions, that while routinely obscured in quantitative surveys, continues to play a disproportionate role in Nigerian culture and society. Within this milieu, sustained interreligious encounters are inevitable and although not without tension, reveal the heterogeneous quality and mutability of religious communities and traditions—at times even resulting in innovative forms and movements.

Using recent ethnographic data from Ogbómòsó, Nigeria, this lecture explored how and why contemporary Yorùbá people negotiate simultaneously belonging and identifying with multiple religious groups. Case examples were drawn from a new religious movement popularly known as ‘Chrislam’ and participation in an annual indigenous masquerade festival, the Egungun. Williams has argued that such cases translate beyond the Nigerian context and offer methodological insight into approaching and understanding belonging and identity as dynamic and situational.

Corey Williams

Corey Williams is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Leiden University. As an anthropologist of religion, his research focuses on the encounter of religious traditions and communities in contemporary Africa. He has conducted extensive fieldwork in Nigeria since 2009, focusing on themes of belonging, identity, migration, and conflict. Prior to joining the faculty at Leiden, Corey obtained his PhD from Edinburgh University, where he was also an Assistant Lecturer and Tutor in Religious Studies (2011-2014). In January 2015, Corey successfully defended his PhD thesis, entitled Interreligious Encounter in a West African City: A Study of Multiple Religious Belonging and Identity Among the Yorùbá of Ogbómòsó, Nigeria.


WHAT's NEW?! is a lecture series organised by LUCIS and the department of Middle Eastern Studies. The lecture series focuses on current research on Islam and the Middle East.

Last Modified: 21-10-2015