US embassy cable - 01ABUJA2836

Annual American Studies Conference in Nigeria Focuses on Religion in American Society.

Identifier: 01ABUJA2836
Wikileaks: View 01ABUJA2836 at
Origin: Embassy Abuja
Created: 2001-11-07 09:45:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

State for ECA/A/E/USS Taylor; AF/PD Skop; 
IIP/G/AF Danz; Info AF/W 
Lagos for PAS 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
SUBJECT: Annual American Studies Conference 
in Nigeria Focuses on Religion in American 
Ref: A) State 104708 B) Abuja 171 
1.  Summary: Highlighting "Religion in the 
US," American Studies specialists discussed 
religion and American society at the recent 
8th Annual Conference of the American 
Studies Association of Nigeria (ASAN) held 
in Jos.  Unlike previous seminars, this 
year's gathering was more effective because 
fewer papers were presented which allowed 
for in-depth discussions and exchange of 
ideas.  The participation of Professor David 
Harrell, who teaches the history American 
religion at Auburn University, kept the 
deliberations on the theme of the conference 
on track.  Professor Harrell's in-depth 
analysis of the dynamics of American 
religious life won the respect of both 
Christian and Muslim intellectuals who 
attended the conference.  Harrell's 
presentation, "Awash in a Sea of Faith," 
provided a strong base for a stimulating 
discussion throughout the three-day seminar. 
This is a GPRA report.  End Summary. 
2. Description of Activity: A three-day 
conference of the American Studies 
Association of Nigeria (ASAN).  The theme 
for the seminar was "Religion in the United 
States."  Professor David Harrell, who 
teaches American religious history, served 
as the lead speaker during the conference. 
He was joined by other Nigerian American 
Studies specialists and commentators who 
delivered papers on various aspects of 
religion in the United States. 
3.  Dates: August 13 - 15, FY 2001, 4th Qtr 
4.  Justification/Objective: Since it was 
founded about 10 years ago, the American 
Studies Association of Nigeria (ASAN) has 
continued to demonstrate a genuine interest 
in promoting American Studies program in 
Nigerian universities. By focusing on 
religion in the US during this year's 
conference, ASAN wanted to stimulate a 
healthy and vibrant discussion with 
academics, religious intellectuals, 
influential politicians and journalists on 
an important issue that is worthy of study 
in Nigeria. 
5.  MPP Umbrella Themes/Audience Reached: 
NI-PD-07 (Strengthening Institutions that 
Bear on the Understanding of the US).  Over 
100 participants, representing the various 
ASAN chapters from 22 federal, state and 
private universities attended the seminar. 
Also in attendance were representatives of 
Christian and Muslim groups, journalists and 
students.  The Deputy Governor of Plateau 
State and several high-level members of his 
cabinet attended the opening ceremony. 
6.  Result/Impact: Excellent.  The 
association's decision to address religion 
in the United States at the conference was 
good.  For the first time in recent years, 
Nigerian intellectuals were able to reflect 
on religious tolerance in the Nigerian 
context in an environment devoid of any 
religious zeal. 
7.  Non-USG Funding: N/A. 
8.  Quality of US Support: Excellent.  Post 
thanks ECA/A/E/USS for funding Professor 
David Harrell to attend the conference and 
for providing ASAN with a grant to host the 
program.  The ASAN executive committee 
members and most participants pointed out 
that the participation of an American expert 
on religion was a good idea and contributed 
greatly in the success of the conference. 
Harrell's comments, especially his assertion 
that religion was hale and hearty in 
America, asopposed to its declining 
condition in Europe where government had 
sheltered it, were well received and 
generated lively debates at the conference. 
9.  Comment: The quality of discussion at 
the conference was excellent.  Most of the 
papers presented were of high academic and 
professional standards.  Given the diverse 
representation of scholars throughout 
Nigerian universities at the seminar, it is 
now clear that American Studies has not only 
become relevant but acceptable among faculty 
members and students in this important 
African country.  The next seminar will take 
place in the Eastern City of Calabar in 
August 2002.  Post again would like to 
solicit the support of ECA/A/E/USS in 
advance in funding the project and in 
recruiting a US keynote speaker to 
participate in the conference. 

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