City of gods and goods

Exploring religious pluralism in the neoliberal city

Authored by: Gina Lende

Routledge International Handbook of Religion in Global Society

Print publication date:  November  2020
Online publication date:  November  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138182509
eBook ISBN: 9781315646435
Adobe ISBN:


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With its estimated 20 million inhabitants, Lagos is Africa’s most populous city. The megacity is the commercial and cultural hub of Nigeria. Neoliberal policies, economic crisis, corruption, and a weakened state has led to a proliferation of an informal economy as well as a growth in and diversification of religious movements. The major religions in Lagos are Islam and Christianity, but African traditional religions constitute a crucial context to both the practice and understanding of the majority religions and to the wider culture. While Christianity dominates the public sphere, the presence of Islam and traditional religions is strong. Religious pluralism, as well as ethnic and linguistic pluralism, has been a central feature of this area for centuries. The religious scene is dynamic. This chapter examines three sites in Lagos where religious innovation and re-making is happening: 1) the Pentecostal Redemption Camp by the Lagos-Ibadan Highway; 2) the Muslim NASFAT prayer camp, also alongside the Lagos-Ibadan Highway; and 3) the indigenous Eyo festival held at Isale-Eko, the downtown commercial district of Lagos. Religious dynamism in Lagos is influenced and transformed by its context, the religious others and the general socio-political context, national and global. This chapter argues that analysis of urban religious transformation and religious pluralism must take the global forces of neoliberalism and the economic market better into account.

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