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Introduction. Out Of Africa?

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This introductory essay focuses on the epistemological questions involved in qualifying religious phenomena as 'African', whether on the African continent itself or elsewhere. Taking its departure from the fact that the very term 'Africa' is heteronymic in origin, it argues for a perspective that treats 'Africa' and 'Africanness' not as ontological givens, but as problems to be empirically investigated in regard to both the historical forces and discursive formations that lastingly 'Africanized' the continent and its inhabitants, and in regard to the various strategies by which actors both on the continent and outside of it have turned contextually specific notions of 'Africanity' into socially salient predicates of their strategies of identification.

Affiliations: 1: University of Chicago, Department of Anthropology, 1126 E 59th Street, Chicago, IL 60637, USA

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