1165 København K
Tlf: 21 17 95 65 (man-fre kl. 9-15)
Seminar — Africa Seminar with associate professor Joel Cabrita on the production of religious knowledge in twentieth-century Africa, the fraught power dynamics between professional scholars and their ‘assistants’, and the reliance of the new scholarly field of ‘World Christianity’ on a realm of hitherto obscured indigenous intellectual labour.
Date & Time:
Room 8B-1-14, Building 8B, South Campus, University of Copenhagen, Karen Blixens Plads, 2300 Copenhagen S
Centre of African Studies
Bantu Prophets in South Africa (1948), written by Swedish Lutheran missionary scholar Bengt Sundkler, is widely acclaimed as a classic of African Studies, and as a foundational text for the study of Christianity in Africa. This talk revisits the history of the writing and circulation of Bantu Prophets and its second edition (1961), revealing for the first time the significance of Sundkler’s main assistant, the Lutheran priest Titus Mthembu, to the making of this famous text. Living amidst the strictures of a racist and repressive state, Mthembu’s proximity to this book became his means to argue for African autonomy from white rule and the integrity of a realm of Bantu ‘religiosity’. The talk thus probes the production of religious knowledge in twentieth-century Africa, the fraught power dynamics between professional scholars and their ‘assistants’, and the reliance of the new scholarly field of ‘World Christianity’ on a realm of hitherto obscured indigenous intellectual labour.
Joel Cabrita is an associate professor of history at Stanford University. She is a historian of southern Africa, focusing on Swaziland and South Africa in local, regional and trans-Atlantic contexts. Her latest book, The People’s Zion (Harvard University Press, 2018) focuses on a trans-Atlantic faith-healing movement linking evangelical piety, transnational networks and the rise of industrialized societies in South Africa and the United States. Other publications include Text and Authority in the South African Nazaretha Church (Cambridge University Press, 2014), and the co-edited books Religion, Media and Marginality in Africa (Ohio University Press, 2018), and Relocating World Christianity (Brill, 2017). She is currently completing a biography of the pioneering Swazi feminist, Pentecostal and political liberation leader Regina Gelana Twala whose life explores the forgotten role of women in African anti-colonial movements and in evangelical history.