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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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Myths and Fictions

Myths and Fictions

(p.125) Chapter Five Myths and Fictions
Empire of Religion

David Chidester

University of Chicago Press

Locating cultural studies of religion in the history of imperial relations between Great Britain and South Africa, with special attention to the interchanges between the theorist Andrew Lang and the adventure novelists H. Rider Haggard and John Buchan, this chapter revisits the theoretical controversy over the priority of supreme beings or spirits in the origin of religion. The chapter compares anthropological and fictional accounts of Zulu spiritualism in the context of research on spiritualism, telepathy, and other psychic phenomena. The chapter also examines the link between religion and politics in anthropological and fictional accounts of Zulu chiefs and diviners. Finally, exploring relations among religion, fiction, and scholarship, this chapter explores how representations of Zulu religion contributed to the re-enchantments of fiction and knowledge about religion in imperial scholarship.

Keywords:   Buchan, chiefs, cultural studies, diviners, Haggard, Lang, religion and politics, spiritualism

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