Rituals of Fertility and the Sacrifice of Desire: Nazarite Women's Performance in South Africa / Edition 1

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With close to one million members, the Church of the Nazarites (ibandla lamaNazaretha) is one of the most popular indigenous religious communities in South Africa. Founded in 1910 by Isaiah Shembe, it offers South Africans—particularly disadvantaged black women and girls—a way to remake and reconnect to ancient sacred traditions disrupted by colonialism and apartheid. Ethnomusicologist Carol Muller explores the everyday lives of Nazarite women through their religious songs and dances, dream narratives, and fertility rituals, which come to life both musically and visually on CD-ROM.

Against the backdrop of South Africa's turbulent history, Muller shows how Shembe's ideas of female ritual purity developed as a response to a regime and culture that pushed all things associated with women, cultural expression, and Africanness to the margins.

Carol Muller breaks new ground in the study of this changing region and along the way includes fascinating details of her own poignant journey, as a young, white South African woman, to the "other" side of a divided society.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Muller (music, Univ. of Pennsylvania) seamlessly blends anthropology, ethnomusicology, women's studies, and religion in her comprehensive examination of the Nazarite religious movement, which has nearly one million adherents among the Zulu-speaking people of South Africa. The Church of the Nazarites (ibandla lamaNazaretha) was begun in 1920 by Isaiah Shembe, a charismatic preacher who created a fusion of traditional Zulu beliefs and mission-style Christianity, in order to bring spiritual empowerment to indigenous African people. Muller's study is neatly divided into three sections: the history of the Nazarite movement, the forms of Nazarite religious expression, and the purification practices of married and unmarried women. Muller's anthropological interpretations, gleaned from her presence as a participant observer, are perceptive and insightful; the writing is scholarly but clear. A valuable contribution to the literature of anthropology and ethnomusicology; for academic libraries.--Elizabeth Anne Salt, Otterbein Coll. Lib., Westerville, OH Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226548203
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2000
  • Series: Chicago Studies in Ethnomusicology
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 337
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Musical Excerpts and Illustrations on the Compact Disc
1. Introduction
2. Isaiah Shembe and the Making of Religious Empire
3. Making and Exchanging Nazarite Sacred Forms
4. Nazarite Hymns: Indigenizing Sacred Song
5. Nazarite Hymns: Popularizing Sacred Song (1940-1997)
6. AmaNtombazane as the Mountains of Abstinence
7. Nazarite Marriage and the "Brides of Christ"
8. AmaNkosikazi as Maidens of Royal Blood
A Last Word
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