Shots in the Streets: Violence and Religion in South Africa

David Chidester, Author
David Chidester, Author Beacon Press (MA) $27.5 (220p) ISBN 978-0-8070-0218-6
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In Chidester's persuasive analysis, South Africa's apartheid system of racist separation and domination functions much like a religion sustained by self-perpetuating rituals, symbols and myths. Torture of black prisoners, a frequent occurrence that is officially denied, serves as a ``state ritual'' to purify the body politic and ``bestow divine power'' on the white overlords. The book also examines the religious underpinnings of the violent ideology of the paramilitary South African Defense Force. A historian of religion who teaches at the University of Cape Town, Chidester extends his analysis to violence committed by black South Africans. The African National Congress, in his view, has romanticized violence as a means of sudden, apocalyptic redemption. In the murder of blacks by other blacks, the author sees ritual scapegoating at work. This powerful and unsettling study illuminates the dynamics of reaction and rebellion in South Africa. (Dec.)
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