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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Conversion and the alignments of colonial culture
Author:Peterson, Derek R.ISNI
Periodical:Social Sciences and Missions = Sciences sociales et missions (ISSN 1874-8937)
Geographic term:East Africa
Subjects:religious conversion
colonial history
External link:https://doi.org/10.1163/187489411X583272
Abstract:This essay was composed to honour the 20th anniversary of the publication by anthropologists Jean and John L. Comaroff of the two-volume opus 'Of Revelation and Revolution'. It focuses on the book's warning about the 'analytic dangers that lurk behind the concept of conversion', a term branded by the Comaroffs as 'Eurocentric'. The essay argues that conversion during the colonial period was a means by which hegemonic cultural discourses were rendered subject to examination. The focus is on the East African Revival, a Christian conversion movement that began in Rwanda and spread throughout East Africa over the course of the 1940s and 1950s. Following the directions given in John Bunyan's 'Pilgrim's Progress' (1678), revivalists sorted through cultural property, identified their sins, and set themselves in motion toward another world. Their path set them at a tangent from the dialectics of the colonial encounter. In the study of the Revival we can see conversion as a political action that unsettles the alignments of colonial culture. Notes, ref., sum. in English and French. [Journal abstract, edited]