Acknowledgments: In preparing this article I benefited from comments by Marie Cornwall, Omar McRoberts, Mary Ellen Konieczny, Loren Lybarger, David Burrell, and the assistance of Alison Fitchett Climenhaga.
Generations of Catholics in Eastern Africa: A Practice-Centered Analysis of Religious Change
Article first published online: 4 SEP 2012
© 2012 The Society for the Scientific Study of Religion
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion
Volume 51, Issue 3, pages 412–428, September 2012
How to Cite
Kollman, P. (2012), Generations of Catholics in Eastern Africa: A Practice-Centered Analysis of Religious Change. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 51: 412–428. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-5906.2012.01667.x
- Issue published online: 4 SEP 2012
- Article first published online: 4 SEP 2012
- African Christianity;
- Martin Riesebrodt;
- theories of religion;
- religious change;
This article considers how well Martin Riesebrodt's practice-centered theory of religion addresses religious change among Catholics in eastern Africa. Two arguments are advanced using a generational change scheme. First, Riesebrodt's focus on religious practices assists in understanding many changes that African Catholics and their communities have experienced over time. It acknowledges believers’ perspectives and the impact of missionaries, and it generates comparative insights across different cases. However, Riesebrodt's approach has limitations when developing a comparative perspective on historical transformation in these communities. Therefore, his focus on the objective meaning of interventionist religious practices needs supplementing: (1) capturing religious change within a given religion requires attention both to practices and their subjective appropriation by believers, and (2) in the forging of collective identities, theological reflection by elites helped connect Catholic practices to preexisting worldviews and Catholic practices marked generational change by distinguishing Catholics from other African Christians.