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Research Articles (Biblical & Historical Studies, Theological Studies & Ethics)

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    The church and health : an examination of the contribution of local churches to health and wellbeing in Ndola, Zambia.
    (2008) Mwiche, Mary Zulu.; De Gruchy, Steve M.
    Abstract available in PDF file.
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    Belief and bereavement: the notion of “Attachment” and the grief work hypothesis.
    (University of Cape Town, 2014) Naidu, Uma Maheshvari.
    Death and bereavement are both unavoidable points along the imaginary of life, as we navigate lives that are punctuated by a seeming infi nite number of events, including the eventuality of death. For some individuals, religion appears to provide the theoretical and theological frameworks that constitute the multiple socially and culturally determined narratives through which one can make sense of the eventuality of death and loss. This sense-making often entails reconstructing and reassembling the grasp of the loss in a way that reaffi rms core theological beliefs about the self and world, and the world beyond. This paper is a theoretical engagement with the widely held conviction that religion and religious beliefs offer reflective tools for accepting and coping with the death of a loved one and brings a critical gaze to the notion of “attachment” and “continuing bonds” within the context of the “Grief work” hypothesis. “Grief work Theory” puts forward a model for “detachment” and severing ties and bonds with the deceased to aid the process of coping with loss and grief, and suggests that this severing is essential for the process of healing, restoration and return to normality for the bereaved. However, the paper engages with the view that religious frameworks and “death specifi c beliefs” offer a form of ‘attachment’ or ‘continuing relationship’ that is healthy and benefi cial rather than pathological, and is more in accordance with insights from later grief research and ‘Continuing bonds Theory’. By peeling back the theoretical wrappings around the notion of attachment, more specifi cally within grief and death counselling, the paper attempts to lay bare a theological reunderstanding and re-contextualisation of ‘attachment’ in the context of grief and bereavement, and bereavement counselling.
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    Queering women: disembedding the maternal script from woman and earth.
    (University of Cape Town, 2011-02-20) Naidu, Uma Maheshvari.
    The paper is positioned inside the theistic tradition of Hinduism and approaches ‘body’ in the form of the Earth body and Woman body as masculine constructions in the sense that control is exercised over both these ‘bodies’. The paper queries these religiously connoted constructions, within Hinduism, and argues that they panoptically essentialise and mark women as child producing mothers, and are blind to the maternal objectification that strips other aspects of corporeality off the female body. Women are religiously ‘disciplined’ into having to biologically and socially fulfil a religiously authorized maternal role. There is thus a religiously sanctioned performance of discursive ‘othering’ or alterity that comes to be normatized. I argue that this conveniently confiscates much of the nurturing and mentoring responsibility away from the man, onto the woman in the same way as deifying the earth appears to work to remove ecological responsibility from us, with the claim that the ritually pure Earth Mother cannot be defiled. The paper attempts a queering of Hinduism and women by applying the deconstructive lens of queer theory in challenging both the feministic and eco-feministic assertions in Hinduism, and the congealed normatives around women and earth. The paper maintains that these normatives come to be naturalized through tradition. The genealogy of tradition creates and normalizes the ‘realities’ through textual history, which is in turn sustained by the genealogy of ritual praxis. The paper begins by pointing out that the claim of eco-feminism and environmental consciousness, within Hinduism, is routinely confused and conceptually entangled with the notion of bio-divinity. In the final analysis the paper queries the possibility of transforming feminisms in the context of the Hindu religious tradition, by ‘queering’ and re-signifying both woman and earth.
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    The mobile global subject: mobility and transnationalising Hinduism.
    (University of KwaZulu-Natal., 2008) Naidu, Uma Maheshvari.
    The contemporary global condition is one of heightened movement that positions us in various contexts, in varying degree, as mobile, global subjects; as migrants, as tourists, and as transnational workers. While transnationalism, migrancy, diaspora and mobilities have become buzz words in the social sciences with an explosion of work in the fields of transnational and diaspora studies, and the several issues of transnational and diasporic identities and nation-state, migrant labour, remittances etc., there has been substantially less work done in the field of transnationalised religion. And while the religious identities of the various diasporic communities has received ethnographic and theoretical scrutiny, this has been less the case for itinerant transnationals seen to commute across increasingly porous borders, weaving back and forth between geographic and cultural spaces for the purposes of work. This paper seeks to narrow the gaze on the transnationalised lives of migrant Hindu workers in their attempt to articulate their sense of being Hindu in a transnational context. The first part of the paper argues that the Hindu transnationals are to be understood within a wider discourse of commoditized labour, and against a paradigm of mobilities. The paper shows that the Hindu transnational workers are to be understood as commodities positioned in global consumption in a world where labour is increasingly mobile and flexible. By referring to a particular ethnographic illustration the second part of the paper unveils that this flexibility comes with a price for individuals who wish to continue articulating their religious Hindu identity in a new transnational space. The paper shows that, placed as they are as a kind of global commodity or service product as salon workers, their flexible and mobile context as migrant labourers, forces them to make their religion equally portable and flexible.
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    Reversing the biblical tide: what Kuruman teaches London about mission in a post-colonial era.
    (University of the Free State., 2011) De Gruchy, Steve M.
    Through a case study focusing on the shift from the London Missionary Society (LMS) to the Council for World Mission (CWM) this essay argues that there is a hermeneutical circle between the Bible and mission. A particular reading of the Bible led the missionaries of the LMS to Africa, and their concern to promote the Bible led to the translation and printing of the Bible in indigenous languages — most famously into Setswana by Robert Moffat at Kuruman. Inevitably, the availability of the Bible in indigenous languages led to new ways of understanding the church and mission from the perspective of the South. This post-colonial dynamic led to changes in the LMS and to the emergence of CWM in 1977. The essay then pursues the argument by showing how over the thirty years of CWM’s life there continues to be the development of a biblical vision for mission that takes seriously the perspectives of the post-colonial world.
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    The beginning of African biblical interpretation: The bible among the Batlhaping.
    (University of the Free State., 2009) West, Gerald Oakley.
    Prior to the translation of the Bible in Africa, Africans were already engaging with the Bible, initially as an iconic object of power and then as an aural object. In the first section of this article I attempt to detect elements of the early reception of the Bible among the BaTlhaping people. The second section of the article then analyses the theology that lies behind Bible translation, for rendering the Bible into local vernaculars is not a self-evident impulse. The translation of the Bible into local languages must be understood as an aspect of a larger theological project. Finally, the third section of the article reflects on the capacity of the Bible ‘to speak for itself’, arguing that once the Bible has been translated into a local language it slips, at least partially, out of the grasp of those who translated it.