EDITORIAL This Special Issue of papers from the Satterthwaite Colloquium on African Religion and Ritual celebrates our first five years of an- nual seminars at the University of Manchester's Shangri-la-like retreat in the English Lake District. Since 1985, the Satterthwaite Colloquium has evolved into a major international forum, founded by Richard Werbner and convened in turn by him and by Richard Fardon, Charles Jedrej, Roy Dilley, Wendy James and currently Karin Barber of the Centre for West African Studies at the Univer- sity of Birmingham. It was originally intended for Social An- thropologists but they have been joined by historians, sociologists, theologians, and other students of comparative religion-usually not more than twenty each year and including some scholars from Africa itself. Given the freedom to choose their own topics for papers, the contributors have made our seminars reflect the im- mediate state of play in current research, and thus explored at the cutting edge of unfolding debates in our broad field. Our selection here represents some of the Satterthwaite Collo- quium's diverse concerns, albeit within the more limited parameters of the theme for the Special Issue. How do distinct moments of African ritual practice enable performers to reconstruct the person and their experience of their own bodies? What are the arguments that they carry forward in performance? How, when, and why do unitary or partial and plural cosmologies come to be known? What is the public and the private nature of religious knowledge and the means of its legitimation in different historical contexts, even within the same society? In addressing ourselves to these issues, we arrive at no single answer for Africa, no consensus for the Colloquium. We take it for granted that our own knowledge of religion and ritual is contested, not revealed or ultimate. Hence our shared aim in this Special Issue is to carry debate forward by making plain what is the basis in theory and in ethnography for disagreement from our very distinct, and sometimes opposed perspectives. What diversity is to African religion and ritual-its endless creative thrust-controversy is to the Colloquium. Due to space limitations, an article on "Ritual, Power, and Outside Knowledge" by Sandra T. Barnes, intended for our Special Issue, will appear later this year. RICHARD F. WERBNER
Journal of Religion in Africa – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1990
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