Beyond Primitivism: Indigenous Religious Traditions and Modernity

By Jacob K. Olupona | Go to book overview

Chapter 10

“He, not they, best protected the village”

Religious and other conflicts in twentieth-century Guatemala

Bruce Lincoln


Preliminary observations

If by “indigenous religions” we mean to denote religious traditions that have not (yet) been influenced or colonized by the global “isms, ” then such traditions are notoriously difficult to locate, since most of our evidence is not the autonomous self-expression of an ab-original entity (“a story people tell themselves about themselves, ” in Clifford Geertz’s memorable phrase), but a product of contact between indigenous cultures and encroaching others. Indeed, the very mediations that make these data available to anyone other than indigenes also render them most problematic (travelers’ accounts, colonial archives, missionary reports, ethnographies, co-authored autobiographies, and studies by those educated in mission schools or Euro-American universities). As a result, our view of the “indigenous” per se is always refracted, if not obstructed: what we observe most clearly is not “the other, ” but the situation of encounter between that other and an exogenous intruder. This, however, need occasion no regret, for it provides the stimulus and opportunity to transform our understanding of “indigenous” and “world” religions alike.

Thus, the encounter situation reveals the methodological and moral fallacy of treating “world religions” in a-historic fashion, and forces one to recognize these as emergent phenomena, which expanded their territory, numbers, and power always at the expense of others. Here, one needs to enquire about the extra-doctrinal factors that facilitated their expansion by asking, for example, when and how specific areas and populations were identified as targets of opportunity for missionizing and conversion? Who made these determinations, and in consultation with what other interests (the state, the military, chartered monopolies or venture capital, etc. )? Whence came the personnel and material support for such ventures? How were these resources deployed, and what returns were expected on the investment? Perhaps most important, what kind of subjects did missions seek to constitute, and how did they pursue this project? (Proletarianization is likely to be a key issue. ) Furthermore, which portions of prior doctrine, canon, and ethical and ritual practice were emphasized, and which ones reinterpreted or occluded for local consumption?

Conversely, focusing on the encounter situation also helps us avoid theorizing an unrealistically pristine “indigenous” and lets us appreciate that local traditions meet advancing world religions in situations of vastly unequal power, within which they mount certain kinds of resistance, while also making strategic accommodation at points they consider less than vital. At the points of most serious contention, one can observe

-149-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Beyond Primitivism: Indigenous Religious Traditions and Modernity
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 352

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.