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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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Animals and Animism

Animals and Animism

(p.91) Chapter Four Animals and Animism
Empire of Religion

David Chidester

University of Chicago Press

Locating cognitive studies of religion within the history of imperial relations between Great Britain and South Africa, with special attention to the work of Charles Darwin and E. B. Tylor, this chapter examines Darwin's theory of the origin of religion, based on an animal psychology shared by dogs and savages, in the attribution of life to inanimate objects and the submission to a higher power. Against this background, the chapter explores how imperial psychology of religion intersected with race, gender, and social class. Turning to the father of British social anthropology, E. B. Tylor, the chapter traces Tylor's theory of animism to reports about Zulu dreaming, especially the diviner who became a “house of dreams” in Henry Callaway's Religious System of the Amazulu (1868-70). Tylor's reduction of religion to animism ignored not only the colonial conditions in which his data was produced but also the hermeneutics and energetics of dreams in Zulu religion.

Keywords:   animism, cognitive science, Darwin, dogs, dreaming, psychology of religion, Tylor, Zulu religion

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