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'Building A New Eden': Lutheran Church Youth Choir Performances in Tanzania

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image of Journal of Religion in Africa

A study of three songs by a Tanzanian youth choir reveals a synthesis of historical and intellectual sources ranging from pre-colonial social philosophy to Lutheran theology to Nyerere's Ujamaa socialism. The songs show how the choir performances break down the barrier between Bourdieu's realms of the disputed and undisputed. In appropriating an active role in shaping Christian ideology, the choir members reinterpret its theology into something wholly new and uniquely Tanzanian. Thus they appropriate an authoritative voice that shapes the basic societal concepts about the nature of life and society. They envision themselves as essential workers in an ongoing sacred task of building a modern Tanzanian nation in the image of a new Eden.


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