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Empire of ReligionImperialism and Comparative Religion$
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David Chidester

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226117263

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226117577.001.0001

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Imperial, Colonial, and Indigenous

Imperial, Colonial, and Indigenous

(p.25) Chapter Two Imperial, Colonial, and Indigenous
Empire of Religion

David Chidester

University of Chicago Press

Beginning with the 1905 meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in South Africa, this chapter illustrates the imperial, colonial, and indigenous mediations that produced knowledge about Zulu religion and by extension indigenous religion. A Zulu war dance provides an occasion for considering theories of indigenous religion in shifting political contexts. This chapter examines relations among imperial theorists, especially Alfred C. Haddon and E. Sydney Hartland, and local experts, such as Henri-Alexandre Junod and W. C. Willoughby, in theorizing religion, but also introduces local interested parties, particularly John Dube and Mohandas Ghandi, who participated in the visit of the British Association. In these engagements, a key imperial category, totemism, was differently defined by imperial and colonial actors. The chapter concludes by highlighting the importance of imperial conferences—the International Congress for the History of Religions (1908), the World Missions Conference (1910), and the Universal Races Conference (1911)—in mediating knowledge about indigenous religion in Great Britain.

Keywords:   British Association for the Advancement of Science, Dube, Gandhi, Haddon, Hartland, Junod, totemism, war dance, Willoughby, Zulu religion

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