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Dr Matthew Michael

LUCAS/LAHRI Research Fellow 2021
Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Nasarawa State University
Faculty of Social Sciences
School of Sociology and Social Policy

Project Title: When Religion is all They Have Left: Religious Ideologies, New Spiritualities and Survival in a Refugee Camp During COVID-19 in Northern Nigeria


Pandemics and other existential threats in human history have often provided the creative grounds for the re-negotiations of faith borders, the constructs of new religious identities,  and the enterprising of new animated spiritualities. Based on ethnographical research, the present project interrogates the appropriations of African spirituality in direct conversation with COVID 19 pandemic by displaced African people at refugee camps in northern Nigeria. Forced to leave their homes by the insurgency activities of Boko Haram and other neo-homegrown Al-Qaida sects, these Christian—lived in a heightened level of material poverty and emotional want in a region—already ranked the poorest on World poverty index. For most believers in this camp, religion is all they have left, and greatly empowered by this same religion, the daily encounters of these impoverished refugees and COVID-19 have directly triggered new creative constructs of spirituality which have global significance for modern refugee crises and the pandemic.

Twitter: @matthew65487848

Working with: Dr Abel Ugba