377pp., paperback, Chicago, 2014
David Chidester on the emergence of a science of comparative religion in Great Britain during the second half of the nineteenth century and its complex relations to the colonial situation in southern Africa.
“Chidester renders highly original readings of major figures like Max Müller, Charles Darwin, James Frazer, Herbert Spencer, E. B. Tylor, and W. E. B. Du Bois ... By foregrounding the complex apparatuses of imperialism, racialization histories, and the imbrication of racial knowledge with colonial power, Chidester offers a game-changing volume that will shift scholarly understanding of empire and religion” Choice
“There is a growing body of scholarship that explores the complex relations between European imperialism and the modern field of comparative religion, but Empire of Religion is the first to really interrogate the relations between colonial Africa and the modern study of religion in a comprehensive and sophisticated way. Elegantly pairing key themes and authors in each section, Chidester’s lucid and powerful book will be of central importance to specialists in African religions and history, and the larger genealogy of religion as a modern category.” Hugh B. Urban, Ohio State University
David Chidester is Professor of Religious Studies and Director of the Institute for Comparative Religion in Southern Africa at the University of Cape Town. He is the author or editor of more than twenty books, including Savage Systems: Colonialism and Comparative religion in South Africa.