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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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Ritual and Magic

Ritual and Magic

(p.159) Chapter Six Ritual and Magic
Empire of Religion

David Chidester

University of Chicago Press

Highlighting exchanges in ritual theory between imperial theorist James Frazer and Henri-Alexandre Junod, missionary to the Thonga in South Africa, this chapter contrasts imperial and colonial theories of magic, religion, and science. With special attention to theories of ritual developed by Frazer, William Robertson Smith, Arnold van Gennep, Emile Durkheim, and Marcel Mauss, the chapter also shows how theory was appropriated and transformed in colonial South Africa. Finally, the chapter examines how Junod revised his ethnographic monograph, The Life of a South African Tribe, to recast indigenous African tradition from religion, a translatable term, to magic, a term of opposition. While imperial theorists of ritual distilled a primitive mentality, in the colonial context ritual theory was related to political subjugation, migrant labor, and sexuality.

Keywords:   Durkheim, Frazer, Junod, magic, Mauss, ritual, Robertson Smith, sexuality, Thonga religion, Van Gennep

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