Tag Archives: Religion and Colonialism

Juster, “Sacred Violence in Early America”

In May, the University of Pennsylvania Press will release “Sacred Violence in Early America,” by Susan Juster (University of Michigan).  The publisher’s description follows:

Sacred Violence in Early America offers a sweeping reinterpretation of the violence endemic to seventeenth-century English colonization by reexamining some of the key15507 moments of cultural and religious encounter in North America. Susan Juster explores different forms of sacred violence—blood sacrifice, holy war, malediction, and iconoclasm—to uncover how European traditions of ritual violence developed during the wars of the Reformation were introduced and ultimately transformed in the New World.

Juster’s central argument concerns the rethinking of the relationship between the material and the spiritual worlds that began with the Reformation and reached perhaps its fullest expression on the margins of empire. The Reformation transformed the Christian landscape from an environment rich in sounds, smells, images, and tactile encounters, both divine and human, to an austere space of scriptural contemplation and prayer. When English colonists encountered the gods and rituals of the New World, they were forced to confront the unresolved tensions between the material and spiritual within their own religious practice. Accounts of native cannibalism, for instance, prompted uneasy comparisons with the ongoing debate among Reformers about whether Christ was bodily present in the communion wafer.

Sacred Violence in Early America reveals the Old World antecedents of the burning of native bodies and texts during the seventeenth-century wars of extermination, the prosecution of heretics and blasphemers in colonial courts, and the destruction of chapels and mission towns up and down the North American seaboard. At the heart of the book is an analysis of “theologies of violence” that gave conceptual and emotional shape to English colonists’ efforts to construct a New World sanctuary in the face of enemies both familiar and strange: blood sacrifice, sacramentalism, legal and philosophical notions of just and holy war, malediction, the contest between “living” and “dead” images in Christian idology, and iconoclasm.

Hussin, “The Politics of Islamic Law”

In March, the University of Chicago Press will release “The Politics of Islamic Law: Local Elites, Colonial Authority, and the Making of the Muslim State,” by Iza R. Hussin (University of Cambridge).  The publisher’s description follows:

In The Politics of Islamic Law, Iza Hussin compares India, Malaya, and upso_ucplogoEgypt during the British colonial period in order to trace the making and
transformation of the contemporary category of ‘Islamic law.’ She demonstrates that not only is Islamic law not the shari’ah, its present institutional forms, substantive content, symbolic vocabulary, and relationship to state and society—in short, its politics—are built upon foundations laid during the colonial encounter.

Drawing on extensive archival work in English, Arabic, and Malay—from court records to colonial and local papers to private letters and visual material—Hussin offers a view of politics in the colonial period as an iterative series of negotiations between local and colonial powers in multiple locations. She shows how this resulted in a paradox, centralizing Islamic law at the same time that it limited its reach to family and ritual matters, and produced a transformation in the Muslim state, providing the frame within which Islam is articulated today, setting the agenda for ongoing legislation and policy, and defining the limits of change. Combining a genealogy of law with a political analysis of its institutional dynamics, this book offers an up-close look at the ways in which global transformations are realized at the local level.

“Religious Transformation in Modern Asia” (Kim, ed.)

This March, Brill Publishing will release “Religious Transformation in Modern Asia: A Transitional Movement” edited by David W. Kim (Australian National University).  The publisher’s description follows:

Religious TransformationThis volume explores the religious transformation of each nation in modern Asia. When the Asian people, who were not only diverse in culture and history, but also active in performing local traditions and religions, experienced a socio-political change under the wave of Western colonialism, the religious climate was also altered from a transnational perspective. Part One explores the nationals of China (Taiwan), Hong Kong, Korea, and Japan, focusing on the manifestations of Japanese religion, Chinese foreign policy, the British educational system in Hong Kong in relation to Tibetan Buddhism, the Korean women of Catholicism, and the Scottish impact in late nineteenth century Korea. Part Two approaches South Asia through the topics of astrology, the works of a Gujarātī saint, and Himalayan Buddhism. The third part is focused on the conflicts between ‘indigenous religions and colonialism,’ ‘Buddhism and Christianity,’ ‘Islam and imperialism,’ and ‘Hinduism and Christianity’ in Southeast Asia.

Abraham, “Islamic Reform and Colonial Discourse on Modernity in India”

This December, Palgrave Macmillan will release  “Islamic Reform and Colonial Discourse on Modernity in India: Socio-Political and Religious Thought of Vakkom Moulavi” by Jose Abraham (Concordia University).  The publisher’s description follows:

Islamic ReformColonialism was much more than another account of imperialism in human history. It introduced European categories and concepts into everyday habits of thought of the colonized. Focusing on writings of Vakkom Moulavi, who is known as the father of ‘Islamic reform’ in Kerala, South India, Abraham argues that the socio-religious reform movements of the colonial period was largely shaped by the discourse on modernity. In the wake of the socio-political changes initiated by colonial rule in Kerala, Vakkom Moulavi motivated Muslims to embrace modernity, especially modern education, in order to reap maximum benefit. In this process, to counter the opposition of conservative leaders and their followers, he initiated religious reform arguing that the major themes of colonial discourse were fully compatible with Islamic traditions. However, though modernization was the overall purpose of his socio-reform movement, he held fairly ambivalent attitudes towards individualism, materialism and secularization and defended Islam against the attacks of Christian missionaries.

Arias & Marrero-Fente (eds.), “Coloniality, Religion, and the Law in the Early Iberian World”

colonThis March, Vanderbilt University Press will publish Coloniality, Religion, and the Law in the Early Iberian World edited by Santa Arias (University of Kansas) and Raul Marrero-Fente (University of Minnesota).  The publisher’s description follows.

From postcolonial, interdisciplinary, and transnational perspectives, this collection of original essays looks at the experience of Spain’s empire in the Atlantic and the Pacific and its cultural production.

Foster, “Faith in Empire”

In March, the Stanford University Press will publish Faith in Empire: Religion, Politics, and Colonial Rule in French Senegal, 1880-1940 by Elizabeth A. Foster (Tufts University). The publisher’s description follows.Faith in Empire

Faith in Empire is an innovative exploration of French colonial rule in West Africa, conducted through the prism of religion and religious policy. Elizabeth Foster examines the relationships among French Catholic missionaries, colonial administrators, and Muslim, animist, and Christian Africans in colonial Senegal between 1880 and 1940. In doing so she illuminates the nature of the relationship between the French Third Republic and its colonies, reveals competing French visions of how to approach Africans, and demonstrates how disparate groups of French and African actors, many of whom were unconnected with the colonial state, shaped French colonial rule. Among other topics, the book provides historical perspective on current French controversies over the place of Islam in the Fifth Republic by exploring how Third Republic officials wrestled with whether to apply the legal separation of church and state to West African Muslims.

Smith, “A Cautious Enthusiasm”

A Cautious EnthusiasmThis month, University of South Carolina Press will publish A Cautious Enthusiasm by Samuel C. Smith (Liberty University). The publisher’s description follows.

 A Cautious Enthusiasm examines the religious, social, and political interplay between eighteenth-century evangelicalism and the Anglican establishment in the lowcountry South. Samuel C. Smith argues that the subjective spirituality inherent in evangelical religion was a catalyst toward political and social consensus among influential Anglican laymen. Smith finds that a close examination of the writings and actions of religion-minded South Carolinians such as Henry Laurens, Christopher Gadsden, and Anglican clergymen Robert Smith and Richard Clarke reveals the influence of evangelical zeal at the highest levels of society.

Taking his study even deeper into the religious life of low country society, Smith identifies radically pietistic elements, some of which originated in the mystical writings and practices of European Roman Catholics, German Pietists, and Huguenot Calvinists. Central to this study is the recognition of Catholic mysticism’s impact on the experiential side of early evangelicalism, a subject rarely explored in historical works.

A Cautious Enthusiasm provides a rare examination of Great Awakening revivalism among lowcountry Anglicans by tracing the European origins into the lowcountry South. This study demonstrates how elements of mystical religiosity prodded some to associate evangelical revivalists with Catholicism and displays how subjective elements of religion contributed to a unique patriotic consensus among lowcountry Anglicans in the Revolutionary era.

Corteguera, “Death by Effigy: A Case from the Mexican Inquisition”

This month, University of Pennsylvania Press will publish Death by Effigy: A Case from the Mexican Inquisition by Luis R. Corteguera (University of Kansas). The publisher’s description follows.

On July 21, 1578, the Mexican town of Tecamachalco awoke to news of a scandal. A doll-like effigy hung from the door of the town’s church. Its two-faced head had black chicken feathers instead of hair. Each mouth had a tongue sewn onto it, one with a forked end, the other with a gag tied around it. Signs and symbols adorned the effigy, including a sambenito, the garment that the Inquisition imposed on heretics. Below the effigy lay a pile of firewood. Taken together, the effigy, signs, and symbols conveyed a deadly message: the victim of the scandal was a Jew who should burn at the stake. Over the course of four years, inquisitors conducted nine trials and interrogated dozens of witnesses, whose testimonials revealed a vivid portrait of friendship, love, hatred, and the power of rumor in a Mexican colonial town.

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Religion and State in Neoliberal Africa

This month, University of Notre Dame Press publishes Displacing the State: Religion and Conflict in Neoliberal Africa.  Edited by James Howard Smith of U.C. Davis and Rosalind I.J. Hackett, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Displacing the State collects essays exploring religion’s role in African colonialism.  It also collects essays exploring the ways in which religion shaped post-colonial African politics and continues to shape politics in present-day Africa.

For the publisher’s description, please follow the jump.  Notre Dame Press excerpts James Howard Smith’s introduction to the volume here. Continue reading