'We are one family and serve [the] same god': Christians and Muslims' discourse about religion in south-west Nigeria

Dr Clyde Ancarno1 & Dr Insa Nolte2

1King's College London  2University of Birmingham

Our paper will explore the ways in which religious identities are negotiated in a setting characterised by religious diversity and proximity: Yorubaland in South West Nigeria. We will explore how interreligious relationships are discursively constructed in extensive survey data (2,819 respondents in total) collected as part of an anthropological project focussing on the coexistence of Islam, Christianity and traditional practice in Yoruba-speaking parts of southwest Nigeria: 'Knowing each other: Everyday religious encounters, social identities and tolerance in southwest Nigeria'. Corpus tools and techniques will be used to examine the 1,535 questionnaires filled in English, particularly answers to open-ended questions (our corpus). The premise is that by exploring discursive choices made by Christian and Muslim respondents in this corpus, we can gain insights into Yoruba Muslims and Christians' perception of themselves and each other and their experiences of inter-religious encounters.

Owing to the focus of the paper, two sub-corpora of the above-mentioned corpus were compiled: one with all answers by respondents of Muslim faith and another with all answers by respondents of Christian faith. We will use four-grams for each of these corpora to show how corpus-assisted investigations into phraseology have helped us gain insights into the data which traditional anthropological methods alone would not have allowed. Our findings will concern, for example, the specific boundaries our Christian and Muslim respondents draw around their religious behaviour and their shared understanding of religion.

Week 5 2016/2017

Thursday 10th November 2016

Charles Carter A16