The Local and the Global in Southern African Religious History

Robert W. Hefner

in Conversion to Christianity

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 1993 | ISBN: 9780520078352
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520912564 | DOI:
The Local and the Global in Southern African Religious History

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This chapter tries to make a case for the defense and looks at everything that can be argued against the identification of African religion with the microcosmic and of mission Christianity with the macrocosmic. It then turns to the key question of literacy, arguing that there was no necessary connection between its introduction into much of southern Africa in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and conversion to Christianity, even though there was an actual connection. The generalizing potentialities of literacy have become available to the spokespersons of African religion. The ways in which mission Christianity was much less macrocosmic than the conventional model supposes are explored. It is noted that much of the continuing history of the religion in southern Africa, whether of Christianity or of African religion, lies in the working out of “this dialectic between the local and the central”.

Keywords: African religion; Christianity; southern Africa; mission; history

Chapter.  14541 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology of Religion

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