The Role of Religion in Development – Haar and Ellis

Before this week’s African Religion & Ritual lecture I read Haar and Ellis’ article “The Role of Religion in Development: Towards a new relationship between the European Union and Africa”. The article focused on the interesting subject of how religion in Africa can be used to its benefit in terms of development. As western/more developed countries move toward a more secular society, African countries stay very attached to religion and do not seek to rid themselves of it. 

The classical theories of development do not include or pay attention to religion due to the fact it is not considered to be relevant, a sentiment also held by the European Union, this may have worked for western counties with their more secular societies, though may not for Africa. 

An example I found rather interesting was on the subject of conflict. Conflict prevention usually tries to take some level of religion into account when dealing with such a situation, though religion is never usually incorporated into international organisation’s initiatives. Nonetheless, in Africa religious leaders have a very high level of authority which allows them such power as to help end conflict as well as continue/start it.


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