Luther College Chips

Visiting religion professor: Robert Wafula

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Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion Robert Wafula teaches  class.

Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion Robert Wafula teaches class.

Ryan Bjelke (‘20) | Chips

Ryan Bjelke (‘20) | Chips

Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion Robert Wafula teaches class.

Nora Felt, Staff Writer

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Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion Robert Wafula is finishing his third year of teaching as a visiting professor in the religion department where he brings the focus of post-colonization to his classes.

Wafula uses the lens of his own cultural background to explore topical issues with his students. He focuses on how history and religion interact with contemporary issues; how modern life is informed by the past. Wafula is particularly interested in race issues. The disparity between the rich and the poor, and the continuous systematic structures that perpetuate these inequalities.

“Of all the things I like about teaching, I like looking at topical issues,” Wafula said. “A lot of my time at Luther is spent reading things that focus on racial conflict. We look at how religion plays off of racial diversity, animosity, differences, violence, and [we] relate that to contemporary racial issues.”

Wafula became interested in postcolonialism growing up in Kenya, a country colonized by Britain. During this time he saw the disparity that plagued Kenyans and he questioned its necessity.

“Postcolonialism is my lens through which I see everything: religion, economics, and politics,” Wafula said. “It’s a helpful lens. The way I understand postcolonialism is the idea of critiquing power, of talking back to power, especially when power oversteps its boundaries and begins creating philosophies, practices, or institutions that become violent or unjust against other people.”

As a visiting professor, Wafula is presented with the opportunity to gain teaching experience with the hope of securing a tenure position at an institution in the future. Visiting professors bring new ideas and unique perspectives to the religion department and the college as a whole, according to Associate Professor of Religion Professor Sean Burke.

“It brings us diversity,” Burke said. “It brings us people whose work in the field is current and more recent. With that they bring new ideas, new perspectives and new approaches that have developed since we [the religion faculty completed their] doctoral work.”

Wafula also serves as the Vice President for Postcolonial Networks and Managing Editor for Borderless Press. These foundations work for “Knowledge Activism,” looking at how knowledge is created and who benefits from that knowledge. Postcolonial Networks investigates how history transmits knowledge  in academia from the perspective of victors and has left behind large quotients of the world as a result.

“My fight, in terms of justice, is to make a case for the major part of the world,” Wafula said. “My mission is to see if we can, through Borderless Press, encourage scholars in the non-Western world to write, to publish, and put their work out there. And then to do activism to get readers, schools, colleges, and libraries to take in these books and assign these books.”

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2 Comments

2 Responses to “Visiting religion professor: Robert Wafula”

  1. Allan Kiprotich on April 7th, 2017 1:00 pm

    That’s a great teaching we all need to appreciate as this elaborate and on now and past hence necessitating equality in all aspects of life.This is what God requires us to do as human beings.Kudos Prof Wafula.

  2. rev jonah lagat on April 8th, 2017 2:22 am

    Yea i like the content i have just read postcolonial aspects, i wish to congratulate the author for his comprehensive work

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