Empire Of Religion: Imperialism And Comparative Religion

Paperback | March 19, 2014

byDavid Chidester

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How is knowledge about religion and religions produced, and how is that knowledge authenticated and circulated? David Chidester seeks to answer these questions in Empire of Religion, documenting and analyzing the emergence of a science of comparative religion in Great Britain during the second half of the nineteenth century and its complex relations to the colonial situation in southern Africa. In the process, Chidester provides a counterhistory of the academic study of religion, an alternative to standard accounts that have failed to link the field of comparative religion with either the power relations or the historical contingencies of the imperial project.
 
In developing a material history of the study of religion, Chidester documents the importance of African religion, the persistence of the divide between savagery and civilization, and the salience of mediations—imperial, colonial, and indigenous—in which knowledge about religions was produced. He then identifies the recurrence of these mediations in a number of case studies, including Friedrich Max Müller’s dependence on colonial experts, H. Rider Haggard and John Buchan’s fictional accounts of African religion, and W. E. B. Du Bois’s studies of African religion. By reclaiming these theorists for this history, Chidester shows that race, rather than theology, was formative in the emerging study of religion in Europe and North America. Sure to be controversial, Empire of Religion is a major contribution to the field of comparative religious studies.

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How is knowledge about religion and religions produced, and how is that knowledge authenticated and circulated? David Chidester seeks to answer these questions in Empire of Religion, documenting and analyzing the emergence of a science of comparative religion in Great Britain during the second half of the nineteenth century and its com...

David Chidester is professor of religious studies and director of the Institute for Comparative Religion in Southern Africa at the University of Cape Town. He is the author or editor of more than twenty books, including the award-winning Savage Systems: Colonialism and Comparative Religion in South Africa. He lives in South Africa.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:400 pages, 9 × 6 × 1 inPublished:March 19, 2014Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022611743X

ISBN - 13:9780226117430

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Table of Contents

Preface

1. Expanding Empire

2. Imperial, Colonial, and Indigenous

3. Classify and Conquer

4. Animals and Animism

5. Myths and Fictions

6. Ritual and Magic

7. Humanity and Divinity

8. Thinking Black

9. Spirit of Empire

10. Enduring Empire

Notes

Index

Editorial Reviews

“A singularly erudite book and a signal contribution to the burgeoning literature in the field of African comparative religion and missionary history.”