Writing ‘naturecultures’ in Zulu Zionist healing

  • Rune Flikke

Abstract

In this article my primary aim is to argue for an ontological and phenomenological approach to studying healing rituals within the African Independent Churches in South Africa. Through ethnographic evidence I will argue that the healing rituals are misrepresented in more traditional epistemologically tuned studies, and suggest that a better understanding is to be achieved through a focus on Latour’s ‘natures-cultures’ or Haraway’s ‘naturecultures’, thus showing how health and well-being are achieved through a creative process which continuously strive to break down any distinction of nature and culture as separate entities. I conclude by arguing that the contemporary healing rituals, which surfaced in South Africa in the mid eighteen-seventies, were a sensible and experience based reactions to the colonial contact zones of a racist Colonial regime dependent on African labor.

References

Barrett, D. B. 1968. Schism and Renewal in Africa: An Analysis of Six Thousand Contemporary Religious Movements. Nairobi: Oxford University Press.

Berglund, A.-I. 1989. Zulu Thought Patterns and Symbolism. London and Cape Town: C. Hurst and Co. Ltd.

Bryant, A. T. 1949. The Zulu People: As They Were before the White Man Came. Pietermaritzburg: Shuter and Shooter.

Burke, T. 1996a. Lifebuoy Men, Lux Women: Commodification, Consumption, and Cleanliness in Modern Zimbabwe. In A. Appadurai, J. Comaroff and J. Farquhar (eds.), Body, Commodity, Text. Durham and London: Duke University Press.

Burke, T. 1996b. “‘Sunlight soap has changed my life’: hygiene, commodification, and the body in colonial Zimbabwe.” In H. Hendrickson (ed.) Clothing and Difference: Embodied Identities in Colonial and Post-Colonial Africa, 189–212. Durham and London: Duke University Press.

Comaroff, J. 1993. The diseased heart of Africa: medicine, colonialism, and the black body. In S. Lindenbaum and M. Lock (eds.) Knowledge, Power and Practice: The Anthropology of Medicine and Everyday Life, 305-29. Berkeley and London: University of California Press.

Comaroff, J. and J. L. Comaroff. 1987. The madman and the migrant: work and labor in the historical consciousness of a South African people. American Ethnologist, 14:191–209.

Comaroff, J. and J. L. Comaroff. 1991. Of Revelation and Revolution: Christianity, Colonialism, and Consciousness in South Africa. Vol. 1. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press.

Csordas, T. J. 1990. Embodiment as a paradigm for anthropology. Ethos 18 (1):5-47.

Fabian, J. 2000. Out of our Minds: Reason and Madness in the Exploration of Central Africa. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Flikke, R. 1994. The Past in the Present: A Semiotic Exploration of Urban Zulu Zionism in Durban, South Africa. Cand.Polit, Department and Museum of Anthropology, University of Oslo.

Flikke, R. 2001. Curing the Ills of History: From Colonial Public Health to Hygiene and Healing in Contemporary South African Independent Churches. Ph.D. Dissertation, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Oslo.

Flikke, R. 2003a. Kroppsliggjøring, feltarbeid og okkulte erfaringer. Norsk Antropologisk Tidsskrift 14 (4):207–220.

Flikke, R. 2003b. Public health and the development of racial segregation in South Africa. Bulletin of the Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies 5 (1):5-23.

Flikke, R. 2005. Såpe som politisk praksis og religiøs prosess i Sør-Afrika. Norsk Antropologisk Tidsskrift 16 (2):142–152.

Flikke, R. 2006. Embodying the occult: religious experiences and ritual practices in urban Zulu Zionism. In J. Kiernan (ed.) The Power of the Occult in Modern Africa: Continuity and Innovation in the Renewal of African Cosmologies, 206–240. Berlin: Lit Verlag.

Flikke, R. 2013. Smell of decay, scent of progress: eucalyptus as a public health actor in Victorian South Africa. Paper read at Wreckage and Recovery, December 11th–12th, 2013, at Oslo.

Gell, A. 1977. Magic, Perfume, Dreams…. In I. Lewis (ed.) Symbols and Sentiments, 25-38. London: Academic Press.

Haraway, D. J. 2003. Companion Species Manifesto: Dogs, People and Significant Otherness. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Herz, R. 2006. I know what I like — understanding odor prefrences. In J. Drobnik (ed.) The smell culture reader, 190–203. Oxford: Berg.

Hunter, M. 1936. Reaction to Conquest: Effects of Contact with Europeans on th Pondo of South Africa. With an introduction by General J.C. Smuts. 1961, second ed. London: Oxford University Press.

Janzen, J. M. 1992. Ngoma: Discourses of Healing. In J. M. Janzen and C. Leslie (eds.) Central and Southern Africa. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Latour, B. 1993. We Have Never Been Modern. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Lien, M. E. 2007. Weeding Tasmanian bush. Biomigration and landscape imagery. In M. E. Lien and M. Melhuus (eds.) Holding Worlds Together: Ethnographies of Knowing and Belonging, 103–121. Oxford: Berghahn.

Lien, M. E. and A. Davison. 2010. Roots, rupture and remembrance. Journal of Material Culture 15 (2):1–21.

Ngubane, H. 1977. Body and Mind in Zulu Medicine: An Ethnography of Health and Disease in Nyuswa-Zulu Thought and Practice. London: Academic Press.

Nustad, K. G. 2011. Performing natures and land in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, South Africa. Ethnos 76 (1):88–108.

Sachs, W (ed.) 1993. Global Ecology: A New Arena of Political Conflict. London: Zed Press.

Schoenwald, R. L. 1973. Training urban man: a hypothesis about the sanitary movement. In H. J. Dyos and M. Wolff (eds.) The Victorian City: Images and Realities, 669–92. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Stepan, N. L. 2001. Picturing Tropical Nature. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Sundkler, B. G. M. 1961. Bantu Prophets in South Africa. Second, expanded ed. London: Oxford University Press.

—. 1976. Zulu Zion and Some Swazi Zionists. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Urry, J. 1990. The Tourist Gaze: Leisure and Travel in Contemporary Societies. London: Sage Publications.

—. 1992. The tourist gaze “revisited”. American Behavioral Scientist 36:172–186.

Wolf, E. R. 1982. Europe and the People Without History. Berkeley and London: University of California Press.
Published
2016-12-01
Section
Peer-Reviewed Articles