Here the focus lies on different material than texts, that is photographic material. Furthermore, the notions of performativity and performance are especially highlighted and the discursive power of the archive underlined.

Under the term “interfaith”, efforts are being made in the present to revise the universalist foreshortenings of the concept of religion. However, the revision can only succeed if the deconstruction of essentialist attributions of “identity” within the category of gender and religion as well as agency and human flourishing come simultaneously into focus.

The chapter discusses this question with personal visual material from Mali and critiques the neo-colonial structures in relation to the African Imagination, as it was presented in the recent reporting on the religious aspects of war in Mali. The present photographic series is an epistemological deconstruction of the existing order of knowledge: A supposed predetermination of the lives of gendered subjects in Mali, both through cultural and religious values and the actuality of the wartime violence, manifest themselves as a part of “Western” projection.

The alleged traditions of Malian society persist in the contemporary context and come into the picture. However, facial tattoos, bright dresses, and individual colourful headdresses as an embodiment are a religious persiflage or catachresis of the prescribed Islamic tradition. Thus, even visually, these norms do not exist as abstract prescriptions which restrict human life, but rather as a lived religious practice, opening up individually in a performative, material variety and facilitating subject formation and agency in relation to religious discourse.

For the argumentation, reproductions of selected objects of my photographic archive from Mali are used. Furthermore, the possibility of overcoming colonial and neo-colonial photographic canons is discussed with the new concept and practice of “agency photography”.