The suffering body: Passion and ritual allegory in Christian encounters

Richard Werbner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article raises key questions about ritual as Christian allegory and bodily practice in history. In colonial and postcolonial ritual, around which moments of the Christian drama of self-sacrifice, cosmic martyrdom, redemption and resurrection have African Christians physically embodied their personal and collective identities, their felt individuality or their intimate sense of self? How has Christian passion met moral sensibility in colonial and postcolonial encounters? Pursuing that in a critique of a familiar modernist paradigm, the account addresses the changing moral economy within which religious argument, whether verbal or mimetic, whether about syncretism or anti-syncretism, is carried forward. A major concern is fundamental, long-term change and the importance for the adherents themselves of ritual and church forms perceived as being universal and global.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-324
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Southern African Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1997


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