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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Places of Power and Shrines of the Land
Author:Colson, Elizabeth
Geographic terms:Southern Africa
urban planning
Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Religion and Witchcraft
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/40341730
Abstract:A theme common in the literature on landscape in central and southern Africa is the distinction between places of power and land shrines. Places of power are permanent features of the landscape, such as mountains, rocks, and trees, regarded as inherently sacred or as the loci of spiritual power. Land shrines are built by humans and the spirits commonly associated with them are the spirits of those reputed to have first settled the locality or to have subsequently conquered and ruled it. Spiritual forces associated with places of power are thus defined as different in kind from the spirits appealed to at land shrines which are reputed to have a link to the local community stemming from their experience as living humans. Places of power are not attached to specific communities and represent meeting places for diverse groups, including migrant communities. Since the latter part of the 19th century, central and southern Africa have been transformed in many ways, not least through the creation of enduring human markers on the landscape. As a result, land shrines and places of power have been overshadowed by other landmarks. Bibliogr.