SYNCRETISM, HYBRIDITY AND AMBIVALENCE: PROBING THE CONCEPTS IN RELIGIOUS DISCOURSE WITH REFERENCE TO SACRED SITE DYNAMICS IN SOUTH AFRICA

Philip Nel

Abstract


This article arises from the author’s exposure and research in the field of Southern African religious collectivities as user communities at sacred sites in the Eastern Free State. The user communities consist of individual pilgrims, groups of In-dependent Church affiliations and adherents of local traditional religion, per-forming frequent visits to the sites and often staying there for different lengths of time. Customary practices and ritual performances reveal an astonishing fusion of different religious beliefs without apparent overt tensions; in fact, performances often exhibit a seamless spiritual embroidery. It was therefore important to account for these levels of religious belief overlap, as well as the validity of concepts historically coined to describe the fusion of religious beliefs. The concepts of syncretism and hybridity are then probed regarding their validity to account for the blending of religious beliefs. My concluding contention is that both have too much historical and ideological baggage and that the concept of ambivalence may signal a more neutral exit for the dilemma.


Keywords


Syncretism; Hybridity; Ambivalence; South African Indigenous Religion

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7833/116-1-1340

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ISSN 2305-445X (online); ISSN 0254-1807 (print)

Attribution CC BY-NC-ND 4.0


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