Terje Østebø, Associate Professor

490 Grinter Hall/106 Anderson Hall
Islam in Africa, Contemporary Islamic Reform, Ethiopia, Horn of Africa

Terje Østebø holds a joint appointment in the Department of Religion and the Center for African Studies. He received his Ph.D. in the History of Religions from Stockholm University. Before joining the faculty of the University of Florida, he was an Assistant Professor at NLA University College in Bergen, Norway.

His main areas of research are Islam in Africa, particularly in Ethiopia and in the Horn of Africa, and he has extensive field-work and research experience from Ethiopia. His recent book (Brill, Leiden) focuses on the emergence and trajectory of the Salafi movement in Ethiopia from the late 1960s to the present. It offers a nuanced understanding of the interaction between the outside (global) and the local, with a particular focus on the role of agents of change in relation to audience, and explores the process of religious change as a dialectic development.

Other research foci include contemporary Islamic reform, Salafism, Islamic cultures, inter-religious relations in Africa/Ethiopia, as well as ethnic identity, religion and politics and public representations of religion. He is soon publishing an edited volume on contemporary Islam in Ethiopian and the Horn of Africa, and is also currently working on a major research project that deals with the relationship between religious and ethnic identity, with Islam and different ethno-nationalist movements in the Horn of Africa as the case in point.

He has a broad experience with teaching, both in Norway and abroad. Such teaching includes Islam in Ethiopia (both from historical and contemporary perspectives), Ethiopian history, contemporary Ethiopian society & politics, as well as religion and politics on the Horn of Africa. He also has extensive experience with teaching courses on Islam and Muslim cultures in East Africa, Christian-Muslim relations in East Africa, Christianity in contemporary Africa, as well as African Traditional Religions. The teaching has been carried out within the discipline of Religious Studies and in cross-disciplinary settings. He is also fluent in Oromo and has good knowledge of Amharic.

 Recent books:

  • Muslim Ethiopia: The Christian Legacy, Identity Politics, and Islamic Reformism (co-edited with Patrick Desplat), New York: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2013.
  • Localising Salafism: Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, Leiden: Brill, 2012
  • Localising Salafism: Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, PhD dissertation, Stockholm: Stockholm University, 2008.
  • A History of Islam and Inter-religious Relations in Bale, Ethiopia, Stockholm: Almquist & Wiksell International, 2005.

Recent articles:

  • “Salafism, State Politics, and the Question of ‘Extremism’ in Ethiopia”, in Comparative Islamic Studies, 8, 1, 2014.
  • “Are Religious Leaders a Magic Bullet for Social/Societal Change?  A critical look at anti-FGM interventions in Ethiopia”, (together with Marit Tolo Østebø) in Africa Today, 60, 3, 2014.
  • ”Claims for Authority at the Shrine of Shaykh Hussein, Ethiopia”, in Journal of Islamic Studies, 25, 2, 2014
  • “The revenge of the Jinn: Spirits, Salafi Reform, and the Continuity in Change in Contemporary Ethiopia”, inContemporary Islam, 8, 1, 2014
  • “Islam and State Relations in Ethiopia: From Containment to the Production of a ’Governmental Islam’”, in Journal of the American Academy of Religion,81, 4, 2013.
  • “Islamic Militancy in Africa”, Africa Security Brief no. 23, Washington DC: Africa Center for Strategic Studies.
  • “Revolutionary Democracy and Religious Plurality: Islam and Christianity in Post-Derg Ethiopia” (co-written with Jörg Haustein), in Journal of East African Studies, 5, 2, 2012.
  • “The Power of Muslim Institutions in Consolidating Democracy: A Perspective from Bale”, in Kjetil Tronvoll and Tobias Hagmann (eds.): Contested Power: Traditional Authority and Elections in Ethiopia, Leiden: Brill, 2011.
  • “Local Reformers and the Search for Change: The Emergence of Salafism in Bale, Ethiopia”, in Africa, 81, 4, 2011.
  • Islamism in the Horn of Africa: Assessing Ideology, Actors, and Objectives, Report no. 2, International Law and Policy Institute, 2010.
  • “Religious Change and Islam: The Emergence of the Salafi Movement in Bale, Ethiopia”, in Harald Aspen, Birhanu Teferra, Shiferaw Bekele, and Svein Ege (eds.): Research in Ethiopian Studies, Viesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2010.
  • “Une économie salafi de la prière dans la région du Balé en Éthiopie”, in Jean Louis Triaud and Leonardo A. Villalón, (eds.): L’économie morale et les mutations de l’islam en Afrique sub-saharienne. (Moral Economy and Transformations of Islam in Sub-Saharan Africa). Special issue of Afrique Contemporaine, 231, 2009.
  • “Growth and Fragmentation: The Salafi Movement in Contemporary Bale, Ethiopia”, in Roel Meijer (ed.): Global Salafism: Islam’s New Religious Movement, New York: Columbia University Press, 2009.
  • “Islam in Ethiopia: Bordering the Borders of Christianity”, in Stig J. Hansen, Atle Mesøy and Tuncay Kardas (eds.): Borders of Civilisation: Exploring Samuel Huntington’s Faultlines from Al-Andalus to the Virtual Ummah, New York: Columbia University Press, 2009.
  • “The Question of Becoming: Islamic Reform Movements in Contemporary Ethiopia”, in Journal of Religion in Africa, 38, 4, 2008.
  • “Christian-Muslim Relations in Ethiopia”, in Anne N. Kubai and Tarakegn Adebo (eds.): Striving in Faith: Christians and Muslims in Africa, Uppsala: Life & Peace Institute, 2008.