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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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Thinking Black

Thinking Black

(p.223) Chapter Eight Thinking Black
Empire of Religion

David Chidester

University of Chicago Press

Focusing on the production of knowledge in imperial comparative religion, this chapter uncovers the work of thinkers in South Africa who reversed the flow of knowledge production in the philology, psychology, history, and anthropology of religion. Challenging imperial theorists, the Zulu philologist A. T. Bryant, who adopted the pseudonym uNemo to contradict Friedrich Max Müller, demonstrated the increasing independence of local experts in South Africa. The psychoanalyst Wulf Sachs, who developed a case study of the diviner John Chavafambira, eventually realized that a psychology of religion had to be related to social, economic, and political context. Turning imperial theorists such as James Frazer and Jane Ellen Harrison into informants for their own intellectual projects, the Tswana historian S. M. Molema and the Zulu scholar of religion, ritual, magic, and drama, H. I. E. Dhlomo, produced alternative knowledge about religion and religions that was situated in South Africa and attentive to relations between theory and race.

Keywords:   anthropology, Bryant, Dhlomo, Frazer, Harrison, history, Max Müller, Molema, psychology, Sachs

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