Critical Reflections on Indigenous Religions: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Critical Reflections on Indigenous Religions

1st Edition

Edited by James L. Cox


214 pages

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The study of indigenous religions has become an important academic field, particularly since the religious practices of indigenous peoples are being transformed by forces of globalization and transcontinental migration. This book will further our understanding of indigenous religions by first considering key methodological issues related to defining and contextualizing the religious practices of indigenous societies, both historically and in socio-cultural situations. Two further sections of the book analyse cases derived from European contexts, which are often overlooked in discussion of indigenous religions, and in two traditional areas of study: South America and Africa.


’From its inception, the discipline of religious studies adhered to a two-tier framework in which local, oral and ancestral religious traditions were subordinated in intellectual status and moral value to universal, textual and doctrinal ones. This wide-ranging and provocative volume marks a further decisive stage in the demolition of that framework. It will not conclude the debate about the definition of indigenous religions� - for the contributors themselves engage with each other in that debate - but it will inform and sustain it for years to come.’ Brian Stanley, University of Edinburgh, UK

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Part I Methodological Considerations: Reflecting critically on indigenous religions, James L. Cox; Why study indigenous religions?, Graham Harvey; Reflections on some problems in dealing with indigenous religions of the past: the case of pre-Christian Scandinavian religion, Jens Peter Schjødt; Religious traditions - kinship-based and/or universal?, Ulrich Berner. Part II European Contexts: Enlightenment concepts, medieval contexts, Carole M. Cusack; Druidry and the definition of indigenous religions, Suzanne Owen; Defining the religion that lay behind the self-colonization of Europe, Emily Lyle. Part III South American and African Contexts: Don Cristóbal, Llocllayhuancupa and the Virgin: the battle of words in a colonial Quechua conversion narrative, Sabine Dedenbach-Salazar Sáenz; The spirit White Feather in Sáo Paulo: the resilience of indigenous spirits in Brazil, Bettina E. Schmidt; Irreecha: an indigenous thanksgiving ceremony of the Oromo to the High God Waaqa, Gemechu Jemal Geda; Ritual and symbol: funeral and naming rituals in an African indigenous community, Elijah Obinna; Bibliography; Index.

About the Editor

James L. Cox is Emeritus Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Edinburgh. From 1993 to 1998, he directed the African Christianity Project at the Centre for the Study of Christianity in the Non-Western World at the University of Edinburgh. Prior to his appointment in Edinburgh, from 1989 to 1993, he was Senior Lecturer in the Phenomenology of Religion at the University of Zimbabwe. His other academic posts have been at Alaska Pacific University and Westminster College, Oxford. He has published broadly in the fields of indigenous religions and methodologies in the studies of religion, including An Introduction to the Phenomenology of Religion (2010); From Primitive to Indigenous: The Academic Study of Indigenous Religions (Ashgate, 2007); He is past President of the British Association for the Study of Religions and is currently Deputy General Secretary of the European Association for the Study of Religions.

About the Series

Vitality of Indigenous Religions

Routledge's Vitality of Indigenous Religions series offers an exciting cluster of research monographs, drawing together volumes from leading international scholars across a wide range of disciplinary perspectives. Indigenous religions are vital and empowering for many thousands of indigenous peoples globally, and dialogue with, and consideration of, these diverse religious life-ways promises to challenge and refine the methodologies of a number of academic disciplines, whilst greatly enhancing understandings of the world.

This series explores the development of contemporary indigenous religions from traditional, ancestral precursors, but the characteristic contribution of the series is its focus on their living and current manifestations. Devoted to the contemporary expression, experience and understanding of particular indigenous peoples and their religions, books address key issues which include: the sacredness of land, exile from lands, diasporic survival and diversification, the indigenization of Christianity and other missionary religions, sacred language, and re-vitalization movements. Proving of particular value to academics, graduates, postgraduates and higher level undergraduate readers worldwide, this series holds obvious attraction to scholars of Native American studies, Maori studies, African studies and offers invaluable contributions to religious studies, sociology, anthropology, geography and other related subject areas.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
RELIGION / General
RELIGION / Comparative Religion