Research seminar with Dr Nadine Bowers Du Toit: 'Religion and Decolonising Development in South Africa'

The Centre for Religion and Public Life at the University of Leeds is delighted to announce a research seminar with Dr Nadine Bowers Du Toit.

The title of her presentation is “Decolonising development at grassroots? Challenges, risks and resources from a South African perspective". Dr Nadine Bowers Du Toit is Associate Professor in Theology and Development at Stellenbosch University, South Africa.

The seminar will take place online, via Microsoft Teams, and is open to members of the Centre for Religion and Public Life, other academic staff and research students at Leeds, and anyone with an interest in the topic. To receive the seminar link, please contact Professor Adriaan van Klinken.


Post- apartheid South Africa is both a very unequal society – with staggering high levels of poverty and inequality which remain racially skewed – and a very religious one with around 80% of South Africans identifying as Christian. Furthermore, spirituality is part of African cosmology and whether one identifies as belonging to a mainline religion or not, it often plays a key role in the development social capital and networks for survival. It is, therefore, unsurprising that many Non-Profit Organisations in SA are faith based, and for the most part overtly so. My own research, experience and networks in the field, reveal, however that despite us being 27 years “post -apartheid” religious non-profits are still dogged by neo colonial impulses with regards to donor relations, white saviourism, racist subtext, welfarism and a lack of contextual African spirituality and resources in order to challenge neo-liberal modes of development. The notion of decolonising development is often viewed in macro global terms, however, in this seminar I seek to explore the current context of micro grassroots community FBO praxis in South Africa and what it could mean to ‘decolonise development’ in such a context

Dr Nadine Bowers Du Toit is an Associate Professor in Theology and Development at the Faculty of Theology, University of Stellenbosch. Her research focuses on the intersections between religion, poverty and inequality with a special focus on the role of faith communities in the South African context. Nadine currently serves as the director of the Unit for Religion and Development Research at the University of Stellenbosch and as the vice president of the International Academy of Practical Theology. She is also a proud board member of several local Non Profit Organisations.