Public lectures focus on Christianity in South Africa

PULLMAN – The role of Africa in 20th-century Christianity is the focus of two upcoming lectures presented by the Department of History at Washington State University.

Joel E. Tishken, associate professor of history and African studies at Columbus State University, Columbus, Ga, will present “Prophets, Pastors and Priests: The History of African Christianity” on Sept. 28, at 7 p.m. in the Smith Center for Undergraduate Education, room 202.

“Over the course of the 20th century, Africa moved from being a peripheral part of the Christian world to the center of it. In today’s world, one cannot begin to explain global Christianity without regular reference to Africa,” Tishken said.

Tishken’s second public lecture, “Dreaming Your Way to Power: Prophecy and Leadership Succession in the Nazareth Baptist Church of South Africa,” will be presented Sept. 29, at noon in Wilson Hall 333. Both lectures are free of charge and open to the public.

Tishken’s research has examined the major varieties of African Christianity. “Some are quite distinct from forms of Western Christianity,” he said. “That does not make them less Christian,” he added.

Tishken holds a master’s and a doctorate degree in history from the University of Texas at Austin. His research interests include Southern and Central Africa, Christianity, prophecy and the theory and pedagogy of religion. Tishken teaches courses in African history, African religions, the Islamic world and world history.

His most recent publications include a forthcoming co-edited collection on the Yoruba thunder-deity Sango entitled “Öba Kòso: The Multiple Images of Sàngó in West Africa and the African Diaspora”. Also, a forthcoming manuscript on prophetic Afro-Christianity entitled “Prophets, Prophecy and Power: A Comparative Analysis of the Nazareth Baptist Church and Église Kimbanguiste”. He also has an article on the Nazareth Baptist Church in Nova Religio, a textbook chapter on African independence movements and an array of encyclopedia articles on African Christianity, world Christianity, African prophecy and African cities.

He is an officer in the Southeast World History Association and the World History Association.

“My interest in Africa remains motivated by reversing the false stereotypes and erroneous information many Americans have of the world’s second largest continent,” Tishken said. “My teaching and scholarship are both fueled by creating a more realistic and complex understanding of Africa and Africans.”

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