University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Ethno-Spirituality: A Postcolonial Problematic?

Bigger, Stephen (2009) Ethno-Spirituality: A Postcolonial Problematic? Alternation: : Interdisciplinary Journal for the Study of the Arts and Humanities in Southern Africa, Specia (9).


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This article explores the nature of spirituality in African traditions, for which we use the term ethno-spirituality. We examine the assumptions and effects of western missionaries, and how African spirituality negotiated with these new ideas and merged the new with the traditional. It problematises the relationship between Christianity in Africa and indigenous beliefs from disrespect for local religions, using terms such as animism, fetishism and paganism, to a more recent and respectful emphasis on whether we all have things to learn from each other. A particular case study is offered of San spirituality, exploring San story, the healing dance, ideas of spirits and deities, and transcendence. It concludes with a discussion of dialogue and hermeneutics around descriptions of God drawn out of philosophical work by Paul Ricoeur. It advocates a re-evaluation of San story, belief and practice as expressive of spiritual experience.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information:

Mythology and folklore functions in pre-scientific societies much as fantasy functions in our own day - and should be understood as different from rationalism.

This is a post-refereed draft of the article (2/12/09)

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: San spirituality, existential myth, religious language, syncretism, religious hermeneutics
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GR Folklore
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Divisions: College of Arts, Humanities and Education > School of Education
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Stephen Bigger
Date Deposited: 17 Dec 2009 14:03
Last Modified: 08 Jun 2021 09:24

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