How Worship Becomes Religion: Religious Change and Change in Religion in Ẹdẹ and Salvador
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CitationOgunnaike, Ayodeji. 2019. How Worship Becomes Religion: Religious Change and Change in Religion in Ẹdẹ and Salvador. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThis dissertation analyzes how the worship of traditional Yoruba deities has now become a modern “religion,” but was previously understood and practiced very differently. A growing body of research emphasizes how the concept of “religion” is largely unique to the modern West, and while such work usually examines how interactions with the West changed religious life in other societies in historical perspective, this work also addresses those whose religious life can presently be described as “pre-religious.” As the Yoruba word ẹsin—usually translated as “religion”—is more akin to “form of worship,” the dissertation examines how an understanding of religious traditions (indigenous, Muslim, and Christian) as various “forms of worship” as opposed to reified “religions” might change the way religious identity, practice, and dynamics could be understood in a contemporary and historical perspective.
By developing more indigenous models for religious phenomena based on fieldwork carried out in Ẹdẹ, Nigeria, I enlist this religious perspective to account for dynamics that have attracted a great deal of attention from scholars of Yoruba society and religion such as the high degree of religious tolerance, syncretism, and interaction before the 1970s-80s. Furthermore it tracks the subtle and largely unperceived shift in religious orientation towards more modern, closed, and reified conceptions of religion and the types of complications that arise as a result. At the same time, the dissertation addresses the role Yoruba-inspired religion in Brazil has played in the formation of a traditional Yoruba religion, and brings this process of transition from “forms of worship” to “religion” to bear on the important discourse on authenticity in Salvador, Brazil, offering a new historical perspective on the tradition of syncretism with Roman Catholicism.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:42029757
- FAS Theses and Dissertations 
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