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Review of G. Widengren, Religionsphänomenologie (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1969)

Review
Jan G. Platvoet
Tijdschrift voor Theologie 11, 1 (1971):79

Bespreking van Geo Widengren 1969, Religionsphänomenologie (Berlijn: W. de Gruyter, 684 blz., DM 38), in Tijdschrift voor Theologie 11, 1: 79

Review of Geo Widengren 1969, Religionsphänomenologie (Berlijn: W. de Gruyter, 684 blz., DM 38), in Tijdschrift voor Theologie 11, 1: 79

Verschuivingen in een West-Afrikaanse godsdienst; Hekserijbekentenissen en de opkomst van de “beul”-goden in de godsdienst van de Ashanti

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
Bijdragen, Tijdschrift voor Filosofie en Theologie 34, 1 (1973): 15-39

Abstract

The interactions between herbivorous insects and their host plants are expected to be influenced by changing climates. Modern oaks provide an excellent system to examine this assumption because their interactions with herbivores occur over broad climatic and spatial scales, they vary in their defensive and nutritional investment in leaves by being deciduous or evergreen, and their insect herbivores range from generalists to highly specialized feeders. In this study, we surveyed leaf-litter samples of four oak species along an elevation gradient, from coastal northern California, USA, to the upper montane woodlands of the Sierra Nevada, to examine the relationship between climatic factors (mean annual temperature and precipitation) and oak herbivory levels at multiple scales; across all oak species pooled, between evergreen and deciduous species and within species.

Overall, temperature and precipitation did not appear to have a significant effect on most measures of total herbivore damage (percent leaves damaged per tree, percent leaf area removed and average number of feeding damage marks per leaf) and the strongest predictor of herbivore damage overall was the identity of the host species. However, increases in precipitation were correlated with an increase in the actual leaf area removed, and specialized insects, such as those that make leaf mines and galls, were the most sensitive to differences in precipitation levels. This suggests that the effects of changing climate on some plant–insect interactions is less likely to result in broad scale increases in damage with increasing temperatures or changing precipitation levels, but is rather more likely to be dependent on the type of herbivore (specialist vs. generalist) and the scale (species vs. community) over which the effect is examined.

Empirie en theologie: Water en vuur ?

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
Areopagus, blad van de Theologische Faculteit RUU 8, 1/2 (april 1985) 16-21

Abstract

The interactions between herbivorous insects and their host plants are expected to be influenced by changing climates. Modern oaks provide an excellent system to examine this assumption because their interactions with herbivores occur over broad climatic and spatial scales, they vary in their defensive and nutritional investment in leaves by being deciduous or evergreen, and their insect herbivores range from generalists to highly specialized feeders. In this study, we surveyed leaf-litter samples of four oak species along an elevation gradient, from coastal northern California, USA, to the upper montane woodlands of the Sierra Nevada, to examine the relationship between climatic factors (mean annual temperature and precipitation) and oak herbivory levels at multiple scales; across all oak species pooled, between evergreen and deciduous species and within species.

Overall, temperature and precipitation did not appear to have a significant effect on most measures of total herbivore damage (percent leaves damaged per tree, percent leaf area removed and average number of feeding damage marks per leaf) and the strongest predictor of herbivore damage overall was the identity of the host species. However, increases in precipitation were correlated with an increase in the actual leaf area removed, and specialized insects, such as those that make leaf mines and galls, were the most sensitive to differences in precipitation levels. This suggests that the effects of changing climate on some plant–insect interactions is less likely to result in broad scale increases in damage with increasing temperatures or changing precipitation levels, but is rather more likely to be dependent on the type of herbivore (specialist vs. generalist) and the scale (species vs. community) over which the effect is examined.

“Een beetje verheffen”: Een reaktie op Prof. Jonkers gedachten over Zuid Afrika

Journal PaperReview article
Jan G. Platvoet
Areopagus 9, 5 (okt. 1976), p. 14-17 & Areopagus 9, 6 (december 1976): 52-54

Response to Prof. Jonker’s “Gedachten over Zuid-Afrika”, in Areopagus 9, 5 (Oct. 1976): 14-17

The Akan Believer and his Religions

Conference
Jan G. Platvoet
P.H. Vrijhof & J. Waardenburg (eds.), Official and Popular Religion: Analysis of a Theme for Religious Studies. The Hague/Paris/New York: Mouton, 1979: 544-606
Jan G. Platvoet
THE AKAN BELIEVER AND HIS RELIGIONS
Ch. 17 in: Pieter Hendrik Vrijhof & Jacques Waardenburg (eds.) 1979, Official and Popular Religion: Analysis of a Theme for Religious Studies. The Hague/Paris/New York: Mouton Publishers, 544-604
Summary
To many observers missionary Christianity stands indicted of attempting to cut the Akan believers away from their roots in traditional culture and religion. It is, however, also clear that the missionary churches, though they now dominate the religious scene, have failed in that attempt. They have not captured the exclusive allegiance of those they register as their members. Many of them ‘owe allegiance to more than one religion at the same time’. This basic fact in the religious situation of the Akan makes an analysis of it in terms of the concepts ‘official/popular religion’ irrelevant and misleading, as will become clear from this study. However, most of the materials that I use in this article belong to the well researched field of the relationships of the Christian churches to the traditional culture and religion and were obtained by observers who worked from an explicit or implicit ‘official/popular religion’ framework of analysis. Their innate tendency to draw any new interpreter back into this one-sided, because one-way, analysis can be counteracted by dealing with them in terms of the wider issue of the encounter of religions. To achieve that, one must also draw on materials from the little-researched field of the relations of the traditional Akan religion to the immigrant religions, and focus on the ways in which individual Akan believers relate themselves to the several religions that are endemic now in their society.

Commemoration by Communication: Akan Funerary Terracottas

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
Visible Religion, Annual for Religious Iconography 1 (1982): 113-134 (= Commemorative Figures; Papers presented to Dr. Th.P. van Baaren on the occasion of his seventieth birthday, May 13, 1982)

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Justo lacus tortor lobortis et Proin lacus ut Phasellus et Nam. Non consectetuer eget neque venenatis eget mauris tincidunt ac Suspendisse quis. Accumsan justo massa eget feugiat et Praesent lorem Curabitur Nam pellentesque. Nec ac nonummy Aliquam morbi elit sapien Aenean tempus netus lorem. Integer facilisi nisl fringilla tincidunt lacinia nascetur.

Comparing Religions: A Limitative Approach; An Analysis of Akan, Para-Creole and IFO-Sananda Rites and Prayers

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
The Hague/Paris/New York: Mouton, 1982, 350 pp. (= Religion and Reason, 24; Ph.D. thesis, Rijksuniversiteit te Utrecht)

Lorem ipsum

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Analysis and Interpretation of Rites; Essays to D.J. Hoens

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
The Hague: Boekencentrum. (= Nederlands Theologisch Tijdschrift 37, 3 [1983]: 177-277)

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Justo lacus tortor lobortis et Proin lacus ut Phasellus et Nam. Non consectetuer eget neque venenatis eget mauris tincidunt ac Suspendisse quis. Accumsan justo massa eget feugiat et Praesent lorem Curabitur Nam pellentesque. Nec ac nonummy Aliquam morbi elit sapien Aenean tempus netus lorem. Integer facilisi nisl fringilla tincidunt lacinia nascetur.

The Study of Rites in the Netherlands

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
The Hague: Boekencentrum. (= Nederlands Theologisch Tijdschrift 37, 3 [1983]: 177-188

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Justo lacus tortor lobortis et Proin lacus ut Phasellus et Nam. Non consectetuer eget neque venenatis eget mauris tincidunt ac Suspendisse quis. Accumsan justo massa eget feugiat et Praesent lorem Curabitur Nam pellentesque. Nec ac nonummy Aliquam morbi elit sapien Aenean tempus netus lorem. Integer facilisi nisl fringilla tincidunt lacinia nascetur.

Verbal Communication in an Akan Possession and Maintenance Rite

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
The Hague: Boekencentrum. (= Nederlands Theologisch Tijdschrift 37, 3 [1983]:202-215

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Justo lacus tortor lobortis et Proin lacus ut Phasellus et Nam. Non consectetuer eget neque venenatis eget mauris tincidunt ac Suspendisse quis. Accumsan justo massa eget feugiat et Praesent lorem Curabitur Nam pellentesque. Nec ac nonummy Aliquam morbi elit sapien Aenean tempus netus lorem. Integer facilisi nisl fringilla tincidunt lacinia nascetur.

Drie stromingen in de godsdienstwetenschap: Een korte geschiedenis van dit vak

Chapter in a book
Jan G. Platvoet
D.J. Hoens, J.H. Kamstra, D.C. Mulder et al., Inleiding tot de studie van godsdiensten. Kampen: Kok, 1985: 45-60

Deze bijdrage aan het handbook Inleiding tot de studie van godsdiensten onder redactie van D.J. Hoens, J.H. Kamstra, & D.C. Mulder (Kampen, Kok, 1e druk 1984, 3e druk 1998): 45-60, voetnoten 225-226, heft als titel: “Drie stromingen in de godsdienstwetenschap: een korte geschiedenis van dit vak”. Ik bespreek, in historische volgorde, de “reductionistische” stroming, ontstaan in de Verlichting, de “religionistische” stroming, die voortkwam uit de vrijzinnige theologie van de 19e eeuw, en de “empirische” stroming”, ontstaan na 1950 in de postkoloniale tijd door interactie met de studie van godsdiensten in de antropologie.

In the koelte van de “ontvangstboom”: De politieke functie van een akan godsdienstig symbool

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
H. van Reisen (red.), Van gerechtigheid tot liturgie. Hilversum: Gooi & Sticht, 1984: 61-91

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Justo lacus tortor lobortis et Proin lacus ut Phasellus et Nam. Non consectetuer eget neque venenatis eget mauris tincidunt ac Suspendisse quis. Accumsan justo massa eget feugiat et Praesent lorem Curabitur Nam pellentesque. Nec ac nonummy Aliquam morbi elit sapien Aenean tempus netus lorem. Integer facilisi nisl fringilla tincidunt lacinia nascetur.

Op bezoek bij de god Tano

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
D.J. Hoens, J.H. Kamstra, D.C. Mulder et alii, Inleiding tot de studie van godsdiensten. Kampen: Kok, 1985: 140-158

In deze bijdrage aan een handbook beschrijf ik het bezoek dat de gouvernmentsantropoloog Rattray op vrijdag 5 maart 1922 bracht aan het dorpje Tanoboase, ‘hoofdkwartier” van Tano, de belangrijkste god in het pantheon van de Akan na de hemelgod Nyame. Rattray wilde graag van ‘Tano zelf’, via het medium van Tano, toestemming krijgen dat zijn priesters voor hem een ‘echt’ tabernakel/schrijn van een ‘zoon van Tano’ zouden maken, en dat hij die ‘verblijfplaats van die god’ dan mee zou mogen nemen naar Engeland om hem in 1924 in London op een grote koloniale expositie ten toon te stellen.

Review of C. Okali, Cocoa and Kinship in Ghana: The Matrilineal Akan of Ghana (London, etc.: Kegan Paul International, 1983)

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
Antropologische Verkenningen 3, 1 (1984): 225-228

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Justo lacus tortor lobortis et Proin lacus ut Phasellus et Nam. Non consectetuer eget neque venenatis eget mauris tincidunt ac Suspendisse quis. Accumsan justo massa eget feugiat et Praesent lorem Curabitur Nam pellentesque. Nec ac nonummy Aliquam morbi elit sapien Aenean tempus netus lorem. Integer facilisi nisl fringilla tincidunt lacinia nascetur.

Cool Shade, Peace and Power: The Gyedua ('Tree of Reception') as an Ideological Instrument of Identity Management among the Akan Peoples of Southern Ghana

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
Journal of Religion in Africa 15, 3 (1985): 174-200; reformated and slightly revised, 2012

It is the purpose of this paper to explore one symbol complex by which the Akan them­selves ex­pressed how they viewed their societies and political order. They objectified and sa­cral­ised these views in a politico-religious (‘civil religion’) institution that was a prom­i­nent fea­ture of Akan towns in pre-colonial times: the gyedua, ‘tree of reception’. It was an instrument they used pri­ma­rily for expressing, maintaining, or restoring, the ‘proper’ politi­cal order. This pa­per will deal es­pe­cially with the functions of the gyedua in Akan external and internal political re­la­tion­ships, and produce by doing so ‘emic’, i.e. native or insider, images of Akan identity.

 

Review of D. Westerlund, African Religion in African Scholarship; A Preliminary Study of the Religious and Political Background (Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International, 1985)

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
Journal of Religion in Africa 15, 3 (1985): 244-248

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Justo lacus tortor lobortis et Proin lacus ut Phasellus et Nam. Non consectetuer eget neque venenatis eget mauris tincidunt ac Suspendisse quis. Accumsan justo massa eget feugiat et Praesent lorem Curabitur Nam pellentesque. Nec ac nonummy Aliquam morbi elit sapien Aenean tempus netus lorem. Integer facilisi nisl fringilla tincidunt lacinia nascetur.

Review of J.P.M. van den Breemer, Onze aarde houdt niet van rijst: Een cultureel-antropologische studie van innovatie in de landbouw bij de Aouan van Ivoorkust (Leiden: the Author, 1985, 800 pp.; Ph.D. thesis, University of Leiden)

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
Antropologische Verkenningen 5, 3 (1985): 51-56

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetuer Nam leo Curabitur in Ut. Id tellus et suscipit massa condimentum vel Pellentesque id volutpat Phasellus. Curabitur Pellentesque Vivamus justo tristique nibh at nulla Praesent senectus Donec. Nisl mollis ligula suscipit molestie amet condimentum mus Sed Maecenas venenatis. Interdum vel urna lacinia eu facilisis habitasse Phasellus eros Mauris Suspendisse. Sapien Nullam libero orci sodales porttitor enim pellentesque dolor facilisi wisi. Eu Sed.
Justo lacus tortor lobortis et Proin lacus ut Phasellus et Nam. Non consectetuer eget neque venenatis eget mauris tincidunt ac Suspendisse quis. Accumsan justo massa eget feugiat et Praesent lorem Curabitur Nam pellentesque. Nec ac nonummy Aliquam morbi elit sapien Aenean tempus netus lorem. Integer facilisi nisl fringilla tincidunt lacinia nascetur.

Bezetenheid en Christendom

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet, G. ter Haar
Nederlands Theologisch Tijdschrift 43, 3 (1989): 177-191

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Justo lacus tortor lobortis et Proin lacus ut Phasellus et Nam. Non consectetuer eget neque venenatis eget mauris tincidunt ac Suspendisse quis. Accumsan justo massa eget feugiat et Praesent lorem Curabitur Nam pellentesque. Nec ac nonummy Aliquam morbi elit sapien Aenean tempus netus lorem. Integer facilisi nisl fringilla tincidunt lacinia nascetur.

De eigenheid van godsdiensten van volken zonder schrift

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
T. Chowdhury, W. Claessens & W. Logister (red.), Het kosmisch patroon: Het vele en het ene in de godsdiensten. Tilburg: Tilburg University Press, 1989: 21-48

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Justo lacus tortor lobortis et Proin lacus ut Phasellus et Nam. Non consectetuer eget neque venenatis eget mauris tincidunt ac Suspendisse quis. Accumsan justo massa eget feugiat et Praesent lorem Curabitur Nam pellentesque. Nec ac nonummy Aliquam morbi elit sapien Aenean tempus netus lorem. Integer facilisi nisl fringilla tincidunt lacinia nascetur.

The Institutional Environment of the Study of Religions in Africa South of the Sahara

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
M. Pye (ed.), Marburg Revisited: Institutions and Strategies in the Study of Religions. Marburg: diagonal-Verlag, 1989: 107-126

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Justo lacus tortor lobortis et Proin lacus ut Phasellus et Nam. Non consectetuer eget neque venenatis eget mauris tincidunt ac Suspendisse quis. Accumsan justo massa eget feugiat et Praesent lorem Curabitur Nam pellentesque. Nec ac nonummy Aliquam morbi elit sapien Aenean tempus netus lorem. Integer facilisi nisl fringilla tincidunt lacinia nascetur.

Review of H. Zinser (Hg.), Religionswissenschaft; Eine Einführung (Berlin: Reimer Verlag, 1988)

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
Tijdschrift voor Theologie 44, 4 (1990): 334-335

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Justo lacus tortor lobortis et Proin lacus ut Phasellus et Nam. Non consectetuer eget neque venenatis eget mauris tincidunt ac Suspendisse quis. Accumsan justo massa eget feugiat et Praesent lorem Curabitur Nam pellentesque. Nec ac nonummy Aliquam morbi elit sapien Aenean tempus netus lorem. Integer facilisi nisl fringilla tincidunt lacinia nascetur.

The Definers Defined: Traditions in the Definition of Religion

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
Method & Theory in the Study of Religion 2, 2 (1990): 180-212

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Justo lacus tortor lobortis et Proin lacus ut Phasellus et Nam. Non consectetuer eget neque venenatis eget mauris tincidunt ac Suspendisse quis. Accumsan justo massa eget feugiat et Praesent lorem Curabitur Nam pellentesque. Nec ac nonummy Aliquam morbi elit sapien Aenean tempus netus lorem. Integer facilisi nisl fringilla tincidunt lacinia nascetur.

"Renewal' by Retrospection: The Asante Anokye Traditions

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
in Armin Geertz & Jeppe Sinding Jensen (eds.) 1991, Religion, Tradition, and Renewal. Aarhus: Aarhus University Press, 149-176
Novelty is no less novel for being able to dress up easily as antiquity (Hobsbawm 1983, 5).
The theme of the Second International Conference of the Danish Association for the History of Religions, ‘Religion: Tradition and Renewal’, from 14th to 17th May 1987 at Aarhus University calls for a comment. The use of ‘renewal’ instead of ‘change’, and in opposition to ‘tradition’, suggests that ‘tradition’ is taken as a thing of the past which is maladjusted to the present, and that believers adapt their religion to ‘modern’ times by doing away with tradition. A secular(ist) or liberal(-theological) bias seems to underlie this view. Examples abound in the history of religions of believers adapting their religion to new circumstances by returning to ‘tradition’, or by inventing it. Adaptation to new circumstances by the reinterpretation, elaboration, or invention of tradition occurs also in preliterate religions. In this contribution, I discuss one example of adaptation to altered, and altering, circumstances by the ‘retrospective invention of tradition’ (Hobsbawm 1983: 1-6; TrevorRoper 1983: 15):the Asante traditions about the priest Anokye. I outline the use which the Asante as a nation made of them since 1874, and the special use to which they were put between 1874 and 1880 by the ‘Anokyeists’, more usually known as the Domaŋkoma (Wilks 1975: 519-521; McCaskie 1981: 129-138) or Abonsamkómfo (Rattray 1927: 28-30). I will dwell especially on the political and socio-psychological circumstances under which this traditionalizing option was pursued.

Een weg door de doolhof: Van Neanderthaler tot New Age

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
TE-EF: Blad van de Theologische Faculteit te Leiden 20, 2 (1991): 5-15

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetuer Nam leo Curabitur in Ut. Id tellus et suscipit massa condimentum vel Pellentesque id volutpat Phasellus. Curabitur Pellentesque Vivamus justo tristique nibh at nulla Praesent senectus Donec. Nisl mollis ligula suscipit molestie amet condimentum mus Sed Maecenas venenatis. Interdum vel urna lacinia eu facilisis habitasse Phasellus eros Mauris Suspendisse. Sapien Nullam libero orci sodales porttitor enim pellentesque dolor facilisi wisi. Eu Sed.
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Review of J. van Baal, Mysterie als openbaring (Utrecht: ISOR, 1990)

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
Antropologische Verkenningen 10, 3 (najaar 1991): 92-94

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Wat ik hier kom doen

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
Te-ef: Blad van de Theologische Faculteit te Leiden 21, 2 (november 1991): 22-23

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African Traditional Religions in the Religious History of Humankind

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
G. ter Haar, A. Moyo & S.J. Nondo (eds.), African Traditional Religions in Religious Education: A Resourcebook with special reference to Zimbabwe. Utrecht: Theologische Faculteit RU-Utrecht, 1992: 11-28

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Kuenens plechtanker: Een onderzoek van zijn Hibbert-lezingen

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
Té-èf: blad van de Faculteit der Godgeleerdheid van de Rijksuniversiteit te Leiden 21, 3 (1992): 43-57

This article, ‘Kuenen’s Sheet Anchor: An Investigation of his Hibbert Lectures’, was my contribution to a special issue of Té-èf: Blad van de Theologische Faculteit te Leiden, 21, 3 (maart 1992): 43-56, commemorating the centenary of the death of the world famous Leiden Biblical scholar Abraham Kuenen (1828-1891).

I have added the page numbers in bold between square brackets. I have made a few small changes in the text.

Review of A. Sooklal, Children of Immortality: The Ramakrishna Movement with Special Emphasis on the South African Context (Red Hill, SA: The Ramakrishna Centre of South Africa, 1990)

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
Numen, International Review for the History of Religions 39, 2 (1992): 275-277

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African Traditional Religions in the Religious History of Humankind

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
Journal for the Study of Religion 6, 2 (September 1993): 29-48

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De wraak van de “primitieven”: Godsdienstgeschiedenis van Neanderthaler tot New Age

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
Nederlands Theologisch Tijdschrift 47, 3 (1993): 227-243

The Revenge of the ‘Primitives’: History of Religions from Neanderthals to New Age
A new framework for the general history of religions is offered in this article. I discuss first the reasons why this new framework has been developed. They are the need to replace the present defective division in primitive, ancient and world religions by a more adequate one; the need to approach historical religions as an object of comparative religion; and the need to enhance the explanatory power of the study of religions. The framework proposed hinges on the history of religions being part of the history of human societies, and therefore dependent on their histories. Six types of human societies are then sketched and the six corresponding kinds of religions. The study concludes with ‘the revenge of the “primitives”’: the marks of the historically earliest types of religions re-emerge in the newest religions of humankind.

Eliade at UNISA: A Critical Review of Shirley Thorpe's African Traditional Religions and Primal Religions Worldwide

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
Journal for the Study of Religion 6, 2 (September 1993): 103-112

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Programmatic Statements from Africa, 1982-1992; A Review Article

Journal PaperReview article
Jan G. Platvoet
Numen 40, 3 (1993): 322-342

Jan G. Platvoet 1993, ‘Programmatic Statements from Africa: A Review Article’, in Numen 40, 3: 322-342

In this article, I review J.S. Krüger 1982/1988, Studying Religion: A Methodological Introduction to Science of Religion. Pretoria: University of South Africa; M.H. Prozesky 1984, Religion and Ultimate Well-being: An Explanatory Theory. London: Macmillan; and J.K. Olupona 1991, Kingship, Religion, and Rituals in a Nigerian Community: A Phenomenological Study of Ondo Yoruba Festivals. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International

Note that I have added a Postscript summarizing Martin Prozesky’s response to my review of his Religion and Ultimate Well-being.

Review of E.T. Lawson & R.N. McCauley, Rethinking Religion: Connecting Cognition & Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge Un.Pr., 1990)

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
Numen 40, 2 (1993): 189-191

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Review of M.C. Jedrej & Rosalind Shaw (eds.), Dreaming, Religion and Society in Africa (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1992; Supplements to the Journal of Religion in Africa, 7)

Journal PaperReview
Jan G. Platvoet
Numen 40, 3 (1993): 349-350

This review was published in Numen 40, 3 (1993): 349-350. I have made a few minor editorial changes in the text.

Review of Richard Gray 1990, Black Christians and White Missionaries (New Haven/London: Yale University Press), in Numen 40 (1993): 350-352

Review
Jan G. Platvoet

Review of Richard Gray 1990, Black Christians and White Missionaries (New Haven/London: Yale University Press), in Numen 40 (1993): 350352

The Study of Religions in South and Southern Africa: A View from Afar [1993]

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
Journal for the Study of Religion 31 (2018)

This article presents a survey, and an appreciation, of the academic study of religions in South and Southern Africa. As I cannot boast of the knowledge of an insider, I borrow a simile from an Akan proverb, that of Hawk sailing on high, to express not only my relationship to this part of our discipline, but also my weak credentials for undertaking this job, and my limited goals.

Defining the Definers: Non-verifiability/Non-falsifiability as a Definiens in an Operational Definition of Religion

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
in U. Bianchi (ed.), The Notion of ‘Religion’ Comparative Research; Selected Proceedings of the XVI IAHR Congress. Roma: “L’Erma” di Bretschneider, 1994: 701-711

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Het religionisme beleden en bestreden: Recente ontwikkelingen in de Angelsaksische godsdienstwetenschap

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
Nederlands Theologisch Tijdschrift 48, 1 (January 1994): 22-38

This article was published in Nederlands Theologisch Tijdschrift 48, 1 (January 1994): 22-38.
Summary
Jan G. Platvoet 1994/2017, Confessing and Contesting ‛Religionism’: Recent Developments in Anglo¬phone Science of Religions
‛Religionism’ is defined in this article as a position in the academic study of religions that claims that the special nature of religion forbids that religions are subjected to the ‛reductionist’ explanatory theory of the type pursued in the past in respect of religion in the social sciences. Religionism is one of four attitudes that have been taken in respect of how religions should be studies in the past. They are: theological reductionism, positivist reductionism, religionism, and agnosticism. After having briefly described the first two and the last one and their historical connections, I detail the seven marks of religionism. I discuss its hegemony in the Anglosaxon academy. In most English speaking parts, it is uncontested. I discuss three recent publications from Africa as examples of this situation. The supremacy of religionism in the study of religions has, however, increasingly been contested on the North American continent in the last two decades. I survey the most recent phase of that polemic by discussing the argument in favour of religionism as developed by Daniel Pals and the responses to it of Segal and Wiebe. I conclude by pointing out that religionist approaches are found also among social scientists, as are non-religionist ones among scholars of religions.

God als vijand: De genezingsdansen van de !Kung

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
Nederlands Theologisch Tijdschrift 49, 2 (1995): 89-107

Jan G. Platvoet 1995, ‘God als vijand: De genezingsdansen van !Kung’, in Nederlands Theologisch Tijdschrift 49, 2: 89-107

Summary
God as Enemy: !Kung Curing Dances
In the 1950s and 1960, only a few !Kung San, or Bushmen, continued to follow the traditional way of life of nomadic foodgathering in the Kalahari semi-desert of Southern Africa. Their religion is discussed in this article. Its central ritual was the curing dance. It is an all-night ritual, which they often practiced. It served as their major means for maintaining solidarity in their nomadic bands and for removing conflict from it – another means being the sharing of the food they gathered and meat they hunted. They maintained solidarity through the curing dance, for one reason because the dance was itself a process of sharing, of n/um, ‛curing power’; and for another because it was a ritual of exclusion. God and the deceased were blamed for all the evil present in the group, declared personae non gratae and refused admission as unwelcome aliens, the !Kung waging a continual ritual war upon them as their sole enemies. The special interest of this religion and this ritual for the comparative study of religions is highlighted by an examination of the link between the anthropological study of the !Kung curing dances and recent archaeological research on the San rock paintings, of which thousands have been found all over Southern Africa. They are interpreted now as reflecting a tradition of San curing dances which dates back many millennia.

Introduction: Ritual Responses to Plurality and Pluralism

Chapter in a book
Jan G. Platvoet, K. van der Toorn
Platvoet & van der Toorn 1995f: 3-21

The studies collected in this volume were presented as papers at an international conference in Leiden University on 14 and 15 January 1994 in order to study the role of religions in situations of religious pluralism, i.e. in what manner did religions respond to the presence of other religions in their societies, in ancient as well as in modern times.  The volume has three parts. Part one consists of five articles of a mainly theoretical nature: Platvoet’s on ritual theory;  Snoek’s on the con­di­tions under which a group may feel a strong or weak, or feel no need at all to demarcate itself from other groups;  Belier’s on the absence of that urge among Australian Aborigines; Drooger’s on a model for the study of the interaction among religions in a plural society;  and ter Haar’s, on African Christian communities in The Netherlands which do not wish to demarcate themselves from Western Christian communities. Part two has three papers by Nugteren, Sadan, and Platvoet that deal with the ritualisation of the encounter between religions, peaceful, repressive, or aggressive. Part three has five papers by van der Toorn, Beck, Kaptein, van Koningsveld, and Wiegers that describe responses of religions to situations of religious plurality. They deal with processes of change internal in religions in response to the situation of religious plurality, internal or external,  in which they find themselves.

Pluralism and Identity: An Epilogue

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet, K. van der Toorn
Platvoet & van der Toorn 1995f: 349-360

This article is published as if it were written by both Prof. Dr. Karel van der Toorn and me. However, Karel van der Toorn was its main author and my input into it was minimal. I have, therefore, not provided a PDF of this chapter.

Pluralism and Identity: Studies in Ritual Behaviour

Table of Contents
Jan G. Platvoet, K. van der Toorn
Leiden: Brill, 1995 (= Studies in the History of Religions, vol. 67)

Title pages, Table of Contents, and Introduction, pp. 3-5

Full text of the Introduction

Ritual as Confrontation: The Ayodhya Conflict

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
Platvoet & van der Toorn 1995f: 187-226

On 6 December 1992, Hindu devotees of the god Ram destroyed the Babri mosque in Ayodhya, because it stood on a  spot they venerated as Ramjanmabhumi, ‘Ram’s  birthplace’. That mosque had been built there in 1528 by Babur Shah, founder of the Muslim Moghul  empire,  after  a  Hindu  temple  dedicated  to  Ram  had  allegedly  been  torn  down. This article deals with the ritual elements in the conflict over Ramjamnabhumi in Ayodhya.  It  was  the  focal  point  in  the  nation-wide  troubled  political  relationships  between  the Hindu and the Muslim ‘communities’ and the central government of India in the last decade.  I  deal  first  with  Ayodhya  as  the  dense  symbolic  complex  with  a  primarily  cultural and religious quality as it developed in the past one thousand years. I will then describe
it as an arena of political strife, at first of local importance only, but with a national impact in the past decade, when it was made the focus of a nation-wide struggle for power. These events  and  their  background  are  described  because  they  serve  as  the  historical  data  on which  to  test  the heuristic utility and analytical clarity of  the  concepts for the analysis of ritual  in  religiously  plural  situations  developed  in  another  chapter in  this  volume.  Their application to the Ayodhya rituals of confrontation leads me to bring this study to a close with  an  anti-Durkheimian  conclusion.  It  will  show  that the  emphases  on  the  integrative functions  of  ritual  in  anthropological  theories  and  on  ritual  as  standardised  sequences  of behaviour, must be complemented by theory that is able to account for the different kinds of ethnographic data presented in this chapter.

Ritual in Plural and Pluralist societies: Instruments for Analysis

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
Platvoet & van der Toorn 1995f: 25-51
There is preciously little theory on ritual in the study of religions, understood here as the distinct academic discipline of Religionswissenschaft. In anthropology of religion, there is an abundance of it, but it is, in my view, confused as well as confusing. In neither, however, has ritual theory been extended to ritual behaviour in situations of cultural and/or religious plurality and pluralism; i.e. to ritual behaviour in which groups co-existing in a society express their separate identities, boundaries, strife with, indifference to, or respect for, each other. This article attempts to develop a ritual theory that may be applied also to cultural and religious plurality. It has two sections. The first develops a provisional operational definition of ‘ritual’, defined in a broad way to include religious as well as secular ritual behaviour. It is meant to serve as a heuristic instrument for general use in the study of ritual behaviour. In the second section, I tailor that definition for use in situations of religious plurality and pluralism.

From Object to Subject: A History of the Study of the Religions of Africa

Chapter in a book
Jan G. Platvoet
Platvoet, Cox & Olupona 1996: 105-138

Summary
The history of the study of the religions of (sub-Saharan) Africa may be divided into two, partly overlapping, phases: ‘Africa as object’, when its religions were studied virtually ex-clu¬sively by scholars and other observers from outside Africa; and ‘Africa as subject’ of the study of its religions, when the religions of Africa had begun to be studied also, and increasingly mainly, by African scholars. My article has, therefore, two main sections. In the first section, on Africa as object, I outline the development of the study of African traditional/indigenous religions, in chronological order, in three phases: that from trader to academic anthropologist; that by missionaries of liberal theological persuasion; and the recent studies of African traditional religions by historians. In the second section, on Africa as subject – or author – of the study of the religions of Africa, I follow the same order. I deal first with examples of studies of African traditional religions by African amateur and professional anthropologists; then by African Christian scholars in Departments of Religious Studies; and by African historians. ‘Africa as subject’ of the study of the religions of Africa is what this book is about. In this section I will, therefore, confine myself to only a few paradigmatic examples from its history to show how also in Africa itself, the study of its religions developed from amateur ethnography into their study in basically three distinct academic disciplines: anthropology, religious studies, and history.

Perspectives on the Study of Religions in Sub-Saharan Africa

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet, J.K. Olupona
Platvoet, Cox, & Olupona 1996: 7-36
When we rose from the four day conference on The Study of Religions in Africa at the University of Zimbabwe, Harare, on 18 September 1992, everyone agreed that it was the beginning of a new era in the academic study of religion in the African continent. Apart from it being the first major conference attended by South African scholars and Africans from outside Southern Africa, it marked a new partnership between African and non-African scholars, the so-called ‘insiders’ and ‘outsiders’, in the study of the religions of Africa. It was at once decided that selected papers, duly revised, were to be published to mark this important meeting, and to make them available to scholars and students in religions and in African studies, as well as to the general public.

Religions in Contest: The Ayodhya Rituals of Confrontation

Chapter in a bookJournal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
I. Dolezalova, B. Horyna & D. Papousek (eds.), Religions in Contact: Selected Proceedings of Special IAHR Conference held at Brno, 23-26 August 1994. Brno: Masaryk University Press, 1996: 127-144
One manner of contact between religions that merits sustained critical analysis is the violent encounter between communities which use their religions not only to demarcate their separate identities and maintain boundaries against each other but also in power contests for mobilising their adherents in situations of political instability in order to attempt to reform a society after their own ideals.
One instance of the use of religion for these purposes is examined in this article: the mass mobilisation campaigns which two RSS-affiliated organisations, the VHP and the BJP, conducted between 1984 and 1993 in order to rouse the Hindus of India for the liberation of the god Ram from his ‘prison’ in the Babri mosque at Ayodhya. This religious goal was the centre piece, and mobilization motor, of the much more ambitious RSS political strategy of increasing the political, cultural and religious power of the Sangh parivar, the family of RSS-affiliated Hindu reform organisations, in order that it might realise the ideals that it pursued. These may be briefly summarised as (1) the de-secularisation of India; (2) the reduction of Muslims, and the believers of other religions of non-Indian origin, to their ‘proper’ places as aliens in Hindu India who would be suffered to stay on only if they agreed to become ‘cultural Hindus’, i.e. ‘Hindu Muslims’ and ‘Hindu Christians’;
(3) the unification of the Hindu ‘community’ by bridging the many deep rifts among the Hindus, in particular the social one between the upper castes and the lower ones, the untouchables and the adivasi (Aboriginals); but also the many religious ones between its major devotional streams and its numerous organisations of renouncers; and (4) to establish a unified, modern, militant Hindu rashtra, Hindu nation, marked thoroughly by its Hindutva (Hindudom)
nature, which must try to undo the 1947 partition and reconstitute the entire Indian subcontinent, including Sri Lanka and adjacent regions that were under Hindu influence at some time in the past, into a re-united Bharata, the Indian subcontinent as the land of Mother India.

Review of P. Boyer (ed.), Cognitive Aspects of Religious Symbolism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993)

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
Numen 43, 1 (1996): 104-106

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Review of S.B. Twiss & W.H. Conser Jr. (eds.), Experience of the Sacred: Readings in the Phenomenology of Peligion (Hannover [N.H.], etc.: Brown University Press, etc., 1992)

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
Numen 43, 1 (1996): 106-108

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The Religions of Africa in their Historical Order

Chapter in a book
Jan G. Platvoet
Platvoet, Cox & Olupona 1996: 46-102

In this contribution I present a ‘history’ of the religions of Africa. I order them chronologically after the moment they appeared on the continent of (sub-Saharan) Africa. The ‘indigenous’ as well as the ‘immigrant’ religions have been included in the category ‘the religions of Africa’, the sole criterion for inclusion being whether or not a religion has believers who are permanent res¬i¬dents in sub-Saharan Africa, irrespective of the colour of their skin and whether or not their sense of identity is an ‘African’ one. This criterion allows me to show that as many as thirteen distinct religions, or rather types of religions, are being practised in Africa, be it with very different spans of time, some being indigenous since palaeolithic times, and others residing in Africa since only a few centuries, decades or even years. They are, in historical order, the African traditional/indigenous religions (ATRs); Christianity; Islam; Judaism; Sikhism; the Parsee religion; Jainism; the Chinese religion; Buddhism; the new esoteric religions; Baha’i; and Afro-American religions returning to Africa.

The Study of Religions in Africa: Past, Present, Prospects

ConferenceJournal PaperTable of Contents
Jan G. Platvoet, J.L. Cox, J.K. Olupona
Cambridge: Roots & Branches, 1996, 393 pp.

Jan G. Platvoet, James L. Cox, & Jacob K. Olupona (eds.) 1996, The Study of Religions in Africa: Past, Present and Prospects. Cambridge: Roots and Branches, ISBN 0 9525772 2 4 (pbk), 393 pp..

This volume contains peer reviewed, revised, selected papers, presented at the IAHR first ever Regional Conference in Africa on ‘The Study of Religions in Africa’, at the University of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe, 15 to 19 September 1992. In its closing session, AASR (the African Associations for the Study of Religions) was founded.

An introduction by Jacob Olupona and me, and two more articles by me have been added. They are:
= Jan G. Platvoet & Jacob K. Olupona 1996, ‘Perspectives on the Study of Religions in sub-Saharan Africa’, pp. 7-36; full text at: http://jangplatvoet.nl/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Perspectives.Introd1996.2017.pdf
= Jan G. Platvoet 1996, The Religions of Africa in their Historical Order, 46-102; full text at http://jangplatvoet.nl/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/ReligionsOfAfricaInHistoricalOrder.pdf
= Jan G. Platvoet 1996, From Object to Subject: A History of the Study of the Religions of Africa, 105-138; full text at http://jangplatvoet.nl/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/FromObjectToSubject.1996.2017.pdf

Recent Studies on Religions in Africa

Journal PaperReview
Jan G. Platvoet
Numen 44, 1 (1997): 100-103 (reviews of J.K. Olupona & S. Nyang (eds.), Religious Plurality in Africa: Essays in Honour of John S. Mbiti. Berlin, etc.: Mouton de Gruyter, 1993; H.B. Hansen & M. Twaddle (eds.), Religion and Politics in East Africa: The Period since Independence. London, etc: Currey, etc., 1995; D.M. Anderson & D.H. Johnson (eds.), Revealing Prophets; Prophecy in East African History. London, etc.: Currey, etc., 1995)
Jan G. Platvoet 1977, ‘Recent Studies on Religions in Africa’ [three book reviews], in Numen 44, 1: 100-103
J.K. Olupona & S. Nyang (eds.), Religious Plurality in Africa: Essays in Honour of John S. Mbiti. Berlin, etc.: Mouton de Gruyter, 1993
H.B. Hansen & M. Twaddle (eds.), Religion and Politics in East Africa: The Period since Independence. London, etc: Currey, etc., 1995
D.M. Anderson & D.H. Johnson (eds.), Revealing Prophets; Prophecy in East African History. London, etc.: Currey, etc., 1995

Review of Jan van Baal, Boodschap uit de stilte/Mysterie als openbaring (Baarn: Ten Have, 19963), en van A.F. Droogers (red.), Boodschap uit het Mysterie: Reacties op de visie van Jan van Baal (Baarn: Ten Have, 1996)

Journal PaperReview
Jan G. Platvoet
Nederlands Theologisch Tijdschrift 51, 4 (october 1997) 318
Jan G. Platvoet 1997, Review of Jan van Baal, Boodschap uit de stilte/Mysterie als openbaring (Baarn: Ten Have, 19963), en van A.F. Droogers (red.), Boodschap uit het Mysterie: Reacties op de visie van Jan van Baal (Baarn: Ten Have, 1996), in Nederlands Theologisch Tijdschrift 51, 4 (october 1997) 318

'The Tree That Saw It All’; review of G. ter Haar, Halfway to Paradise: African Christians in Europe (Cardiff: Cardiff Academic Press, 1998)

Review
Jan G. Platvoet
The African Association for the Study of Religions [Newsletter], no. 10 (November 1998): 21-25

 

Jan G. Platvoet 1998, ‘The Tree that Saw It All’, review of Gerrie ter Haar 1998, Halfway to Paradise: African Churches in Europe (Cardiff: Cardic Academic Press), in African Association for the Study of Religions [Newsletter] 10 (November 1998): 21-25

Close Harmonies: Science of Religions in Dutch Duplex Ordo Theology, 1860-1960

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
in Numen 45, 2 (1998): 115-162

Jan G. Platvoet 1998, “Close Harmonies: Science of Religions in Dutch Duplex Ordo Theology, 1860-1960, in Numen: International Review for the History of Religions 45, 2: 115-162

This article surveys the history of the Science of Religions in the Netherlands in the period 1860 to 1960 at the time when it was an integral part of Dutch liberal academic theology as pursued in the faculties of theology at the universities of Leiden, Groningen, Utrecht and Amsterdam. In 1876, these faculties were given a special statute, the so-called duplex ordo, in a law that separated the ‘confessional’ theological disciplines from the ‘scientific’ ones. It also introduced the new disciplines of the Science of Religions and the Philosophy of Religion into these reconstituted faculties. I discuss Tiele’s plan to make the Science of Religion their central discipline, and why it was ultimately given only a marginal place in them. My main concern, however, it to outline the theology which inspired the Science of Religions of Tiele, Chantepie, Van der Leeuw and Bleeker and to demonstrate its ‘close harmony’ with the liberal theology prevailing in these duplex ordo faculties, as also in at least some of the modalities of the Nederlandse Hervormde Kerk whose ministers were trained in these faculties. It was that close harmony which allowed Van der Leeuw to disregard the duplex ordo and to establish a full harmony between Science of Religions and confessional theology. I also discuss dissonant voices, Kraemer’s especially, calling for the abrogation of the duplex ordo and the integration of the Science of Religions into a militantly confessional theology.

From Consonance to Autonomy: The Science of Religion in The Netherlands, 1948-1995

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
in Method & Theory in the Study of Religion: Journal of the North American Association for the Study of Religion 10, 4 (1998): 334-351

Jan G. Platvoet 1998, “From Consonance to Autonomy: The Science of Religion in The Netherlands”, in Method & Theory in the Study of Religion: Journal of the North American Association for the Study of religion 10, 4: 334-351

 

After 1960, a para­digm shift occurred in Dutch Science of Religion (godsdienstwetenschap). Metho­do­lo­gi­cal ag­nos­ticism replaced the earlier ‘re­ligionist’ approach. This paradigm shift is traced in this article as well as the vicis­si­tudes of Dutch Science of Religions in Dutch duplex ordo faculties of theology till this very day (1998). I trace the contributions which Sierksma and Van Baaren made to it, the first by initiating the paradigm shift, the sec­­ond by completing it. In the third part, I wonder whether Dutch Science of Religions, hav­­ing become a secular, cultural-historical discipline, should cut its umbilical cord with Dutch du­plex ordo theology.

Review of J.S. Krüger, Along Edges: Religion in South Africa: Bushman, Christian, Buddhist (Pretoria: University of South Africa, 1995)

Journal PaperReview
Jan G. Platvoet
Nederlands Theologisch Tijdschrift 51, 1 (Januari 1998): 50-51; also in The African Association for the Study of Religions [Newsletter] no. 9 (June 1998): 16-18

Jan G. Platvoet 1998, review of  J.S. Krüger, Along Edges: Religion in South Africa: Bushman, Christian, Buddhist (Pretoria: University of South Africa, 1995), in Nederlands Theologisch Tijdschrift 51, 1 (Januari 1998): 50-51; also in The African Association for the Study of Religions [Newsletter] no. 9 (June 1998): 16-18

Seeds of Destruction: European Christianity Abroad in the Late 20th Century

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
Africana Marburgensia 31 (1998) 1/2: 3-19
During the recent conference on ‘The History of Religions in Europe: Mankind-Nature-Technology’, from 22 to 25 May 1998 at Hildesheim in Germany, I was asked to present ‘two provocative theses’ in the panel on ‘European Christianity: an imported and exported religion’. The present article contains these two theses as well as the documentation on which I based them. The two theses may actually be applied to European Christianity both at home and abroad. Both suffer, albeit in different ways, from what I term ‘the revenge of the “primitives”’, and in both ‘seeds of destruction’ have been planted. The brief time of presentation–each of the three panellists was allowed only ten minutes– forced me to limit myself to developing these two theses for Christianity abroad only. This article, therefore, presents only that part of the picture. The structure of my article is a simple one: I begin with two cautions. Then I present data on how Christianity became a so-called ‘world religion’ on the wings of Western colonialism. Then follow my two theses. In my conclusion I stress that, despite appearances to the contrary, Africa is no more, and no less, religious than Europe.

Van vóór tot voorbij de enige maatstaf: Over de canonieke fase in de algemene godsdienstgeschiedenis

Chapter in a book
Jan G. Platvoet
K.D. Jenner & G.A. Wiegers (red.), Heilig boek en religieus gezag: Ontstaan en functioneren van canonieke tradities. Kampen: Kok, 1998: 93-125
Binnen de beperkte ruimte van dit artikel wordt een instrument ontworpen voor het vergelijkend onderzoek van canonisering en decanonisering in de geschiedenis van de godsdiensten van de mensheid. De belangrijke plaats die deze twee processen in de algemene godsdienstgeschiedenis innemen wordt in dit artikel vanuit het perspectief van de vergelijkende godsdienstwetenschap belicht. Daartoe bespreek ik eerst of en hoe aan de geschiedenis van de vorming van de canon van het of christendom een instrument voor het onderzoek van soortgelijke processen in andere godsdiensten kan worden ontleend. Ik geef aan welk nut een dergelijk instrument zou kunnen hebben en bespreek welke beperkingen eraan inherent zijn. Vervolgens ga ik in op het ‘scriptocentrisme’ dat in canon-onderzoek als vanzelfsprekend heerst. Ik geef aan welke beperkingen en gevaren dat in zich bergt. Ik licht ook toe welke gevolgen de opkomst van ‘canonische godsdienst’ voor ‘sub-canonische godsdienst’ heeft gehad. Ik behandel daarna hoe men met behulp van enkele analytische vragen, de verhoudingen zou kunnen vergelijken die gelovigen in verschillende godsdiensten tot canons innemen, en ontwikkel een aantal andere vragen waarmee de verspreiding van canons in tijd en ruimte in kaart gebracht kan worden. Tot slot plaats ik canonische godsdienst in een omvattend kader door hem tegenover pre- en post-canonische te plaatsen om zo van ieder de eigen aard en plaats in de godsdienstgeschiedenis aan te geven. Ik betoog dat, ook al zijn canonische godsdiensten vooralsnog manifest en zelfs dominant in de huidige fase van de godsdienstgeschiedenis aanwezig, zij zich in hun late najaarsbloei bevinden, omdat de privileges van de kleine elites die hen in de afgelopen drie millennia schiepen zijn gedemocratiseerd. De privileges, die de elite lange tijd in het centrum van kennis, macht, inkomen en aanzien stelden, zijn sinds en door de Verlichting, Franse revolutie, industriële revolutie, algemene alfabetisering, welvaartsspreiding en communicatierevolutie verworvenheden van steeds grotere delen van de samenlevingen geworden. Daardoor zijn de zaden waaruit canons lange tijd opbloeiden nu, hoe paradoxaal die beeldspraak ook is, de ‘zaden van hun vernietiging’ geworden.

At War with God: Ju/’hoan Curing Dances

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
Journal of Religion in Africa 29, 1 (1999): 2-61

In the 1950s and 1960s, only a few !Kung speaking San, or Bushmen, continued to follow the traditional way of life of nomadic food gathering in the Kalahari semi-desert of Southern Africa. One group were the Ju/’hoansi of the Nyae Nyae and Dobe areas of the Northwestern Kalahari. It is their religion that is discussed in this article. Their central rite was the curing dance, an all-night ritual which they often practised (and practise now, after they have settled permanently, even more commonly than before). It served as their major means of maintaining solidarity within their egalitarian bands and of removing conflict from it –an- other means being the sharing of the food they had collected and the meat they had hunted. Solidarity was maintained through the curing dance, partly because the dance was itself a process of sharing, of n/um, ‘curing power’, and partly because it served as a ritual of exclusion. God and the deceased were blamed for the evil present in the group, were declared personae non gratae and refused admission to the dances as unwelcome aliens, the !Kung waging a continual ritual war upon them as their sole enemies. The special interest of this religion and this ritual for the comparative study of religions is highlighted by an examination of the link between the anthropological study of the !Kung curing dances and recent archaeological research on San art, especially the thousands of rock paintings which have been found all over Southern Africa, and which are interpreted now as reflecting a tradition of San curing dances dating back for many millennia.

Contexts, Concepts & Contests; Towards a Pragmatics of Defining Religion

Chapter in a book
Jan G. Platvoet
in Platvoet & Molendijk 1999d: 463-515

The structure of this epilogue is as follows. I will firstly outline the semantic history of the Western concept of ‘religion’ in order to show the major shifts of meaning attributed to that term since its earliest attestation in the Latin language in the 3rd century BCE. I will point also to the ‘socio-genetics’ of those shifts and indicate how the contexts in which they emerged conditioned and constrained the various meanings of the terms ‘religion’ and ‘religions’. I will then briefly outline the three major, vastly different groups of ‘religions’ of humankind, in order to present some indication of their dense diversity in the past and the present. In addition, I will point, although only in passing, to the different semantics of certain key concepts in a few other religions, and to the complete absence of such terms and semantics in most others. All this points to the urgent need to revise our essentialism. We need to take a critical look at some of our naïve assumptions. One of them is that we know fairly well what (other) ‘religions’ are like. Another that we may establish by philosophical reflection on religion in Western society, or by its scholarly analysis, what the ‘nature’ of religion is, i.e. by what trait it is defined wherever and whenever it was or is found.

Review of Gerrie ter Haar (ed.), Strangers and Sojourners: Religious Communities in the Diaspora (Leuven: Peeters, 1998)

Review
Jan G. Platvoet
in Nederlands Theologisch Tijdschrift 53, 4 (1999): 303

Jan G. Platvoet 1999, review of Gerrie ter Haar (ed.), Strangers and Sojourners: Religious Communities in the Diaspora (Leuven: Peeters, 1998), in Nederlands Theologisch Tijdschrift 53, 4: 3030

The Pragmatics of Defining Religion: Contexts, Concepts & Contests

Table of Contents
Jan G. Platvoet, Arie L. Molendijk
Leiden: Brill, 1999

The problem of the definition of religion is studied in this volume from many anglcs and by different disciplines. Apart from papers on the history of the concept of religion, methodological reflections on its definition are presented, as well as explicit definition proposals and their relation to research programmes. In addition, the volume contains analyses of the pragmatics and polemics of defining religion in modern societies, in both academic and extra-academic contexts. In the courts, for instance, the question is debated which groups may, or may not, count as ‘a religion’ and claim tax exemption. Some of the contributions to this volume address such legal and political controversies. The focus of this collection is, however, on the pragmatic instrumentality and strategic intent of whatever concept of ‘religion’ is being proposed. We argue in favour of an anti-essentialist, anti-hegemonic and multi-dimensional approach, for religions are immensely varied and complex phenomena, which need to be studied by several academic discipiines from many different perspectives. A broad variety of definitions of religion may, therefore, be legitimately developed and proposed.

The Rule and its Exceptions: Spirit Possession in Two African Societies

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
Journal for the Study of Religion 12, 1&2 (1999): 5-51

Jan G. Platvoet 1999, ‘The Rule & its Exceptions: Spirit Possession in Two African Societies’, in Journal for the Study of Religion 12, 1&2 (1999): 5-51

This article has four parts. First, I explain the rule; that is, what spirit possession generally speaking is thought to be; in which religions it is found; how it has been studied; and which theories have been developed to better understand and explain certain aspects of it. In parts two and three, I analyse two spirit possession rituals as they were practised in two very different African indigenous religions in regions far apart on the continent of Africa, with vastly different ecologies, economies, demography and social structures, and with cultures that were very unlike. In part two, I first present the context – geographical, historical, social, and especially religious –, of the first subject of study, the Ju/’hoan curing dances. Then I investigate these dances as they were practised in the Kalahari semi-desert in Southern Africa in the 1950s and 1960s. I follow the same order in part three for my second subject of study: the spirit possession event in which ‘Captain’ Rattray, Government Anthropolgist of the Gold Coast Crown Colony (now Ghana), took part on 5 May 1922 at Tanoboase, a village just above the forested region of West Africa. In part four, I compare these two spirit possession rituals and indicate in which important respects they differ from each other and deviate from the general rule. I also discuss to what extant theories of spirit possession enable us to understand these rituals better. In the conclusion, I emphasise that certain concepts basic to Western religion and much used in the Science of Religions, are misleading in the study of African indigenous religions.

 

To Define or Not to Define: The Problem of the Definition of Religion

Chapter in a book
Jan G. Platvoet
in Platvoet & Molendijk 1999: 245-265

In this contribution I propose to deal firstly with the problem whether ‘religion’ can actually be defined. Are not the religions of men so diverse, and are they not each such poly-morph, poly-semantic and poly-functional phenomena that it is an illusion to conceive that they will ever, collectively or singly, be adequately reflected in a definition acceptable to all scholars of religions, let alone in one that is unambiguously accepted as universally valid for the whole of the human religious history in the full diachronic depth of at least 100.000 years and its world wide synchronic diversity? My answer is twofold. Firstly, such a definition must indeed be deemed to be extremely unlikely if not outrighly impossible. Secondly, however, definition has also more modest uses which may turn definitions of religions, that have shed this universalist ambition, into quite a useful tools in the academic study of religions. In the second section, I shall address the question of why one should bother to define ‘religion’ at all, if a definition of religion turned out to be merely a useful research tool. Can one not better dispense with it altogether? My answer will be that one may indeed well dispense with it, but that, despite its very modest usefulness, it would still be unwise to do so. In my third section, I shall discuss these modest uses of definitions of religion, as well as their strategic implications. In the fourth and last section, I shall discuss the operational, or instrumental, definition of ‘religion’ which I have developed for my particular line of studies as an illustration of the purposes for the achievement of which a definition of religion may serve in the academic study of religions.

Chasing Off God: Spirit Possession in a Sharing Society

Chapter in a book
Jan G. Platvoet
Karen Ralls-MacLeod & Graham Harvey (eds.), Indigenous Religious Musics. Aldershot, etc.: Ashgate, 2000: 122-135
This chapter deals with spirit possession in one of the oldest group of indigenous religions of Africa, the ‘curing dances’ of the Juho/’ansi, a San, or Bushman, society in the Kalahari in Southern Africa. Juho/’an religion and spirit possession are in many ways unique. Both deviate significantly from what we normally find among the indigenous religions elsewhere in Africa and the world.
My contribution has six parts. In the first, I briefly explain the notion of ‘spirit possession’. In parts two and three, I present data on the social and religious settings of the Juho/a’n curing dances: Juho/’an society and religion. In part four, I analyse Juho/’an spirit possession itself, and in part five I discuss Juho/’an pedagogics of dissociation by which the Juho/’ansi train their new mediums, of which they need a large number. In the last part, I present the traits that make Juho/’an spirit possession special.

Ogottegottegot

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
in Prana 116 (december 1999/januari 2000): 57-60

Jan G. Platvoet 2000, “Ogottegottegottegot”, in Prana: Tijdschrift voor spirutaliteit en randgebieden der wetenschappen no. 116 (december 1999/januari 2000): 57-60

 

Rattray’s Request: Spirit Possession among the Bono of West Africa

Chapter in a book
Jan G. Platvoet
Graham Harvey (ed.), Indigenous Religions: A Companion. London: Cassell, 2000, pp. 80-96

In this contribution I deal with ‘spirit possession’ as it was found in among the Bono of West Africa. My contribution about this important and fascinating subject of research has four parts. In the first, I explain, by way of introduction, what ‘spirit possession’ is, in what religions it is found, how it may be studied, and what theories have been developed to better understand, and explain, certain aspects of it. The second part serves to create the settings, geographical, historical, social and religious, for the main purpose of this chap­ter: an analysis of a spirit possession session which ‘Captain’ Rattray, gov­ern­ment anthropologist in the Gold Coast in the 1920s, witnessed at Tanoboase, a Bono village at the edge of the forests of West Africa. In the concluding part, I discuss how far theories on ‘spirit possession’ help us to understand it better.

Review of Jacques Waardenburg, Classical Approaches to the Study of Religions: Aims, Methods, and Theories of Research; Introduction and Anthology; with a new Preface

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
in Nederlands Theologisch Tijdschrift 54, 1 (2000): 65-66

Jan G. Platvoet 2000, review of Jacques Waardenburg (comp.) 1999 [second edition; first edition 1973], Classical Approaches to the Study of Religion: Aims, Methods, and Theories of Research; Introduction and Anthology; with a new Preface. (= Religion and Reason, 3; New York/Berlin, Walter de Gruyter), in Nederlands Theologisch Tijdschrift 54, 1 (2000): 65-66

Review of Gerrie ter Haar 1998, Halfway to Paradise: African Christians in Europe (Cardiff: Cardiff Academic Press)

Journal PaperReview
Jan G. Platvoet
in Numen 47, 1 (2000): 113-115

Jan G. Platvoet 2000, review of Gerrie ter Haar 1998, Halfway to Paradise: African Christians in Europe (Cardiff: Cardiff Academic Press), in Numen: International Journal for the History of Religions 47, 1: 113-115

Review of Thomas A. Idinopulos & Brian C. Wilson (eds.), What is Religion: Origins, Definitions, & Explanations

Review
Jan G. Platvoet
in Religion 30, 1: 97-99

Jan G. Platvoet 2000, review of Thomas A. Idinopulos & Brian C. Wilson (eds.) 1998, What is Religion?: Origins, Definitions, and Explanations. Leiden: Brill, in Religion 30, 1: 97-99

300 Years Ghana-Holland

Conference Report
Jan G. Platvoet
in AASR-Newsletter 15/16 (May/November 2001): 35-38

Jan G. Platvoet 2001, ‘300 Years Ghana-Holland’, in AASR-Newsletter nos. 15-16 (May/November 2001): 17-19

Is Africa Incurably Religious?: p’Bitek versus Mbiti

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet, Henk van Rinsum
in SAGA-Bulletin no. 2 (October 2001): 1-2

Jan Platvoet & Henk van Rinsum 2001, “Is Africa incurably religious?: Okot p’Bitek versus John Samuel Mbiti, in SAGA Bulletin [IIMO, Utrecht University] no. 2 (October 2001): 1-2

The Impact of New Communication Technologies on Religions in West Africa

Conference Report
Jan G. Platvoet
in AASR-Newsletter 15/16 (May/November 2001): 16-17

Jan G. Platvoet 2001, ‘The Impact of New Communication Technologies on Religions in West Africa’, in AASR-Newsletter nos. 15-16 (May/November 2001): 16-17

The Religions of Africa at Bayreuth University

Report
Jan G. Platvoet
in AASR-Newsletter 15/16 (May/November 2001): 35-38

 

[Jan G. Platvoet 2001], ‘The Religions of Africa at Bayreuth University’, in AASR-Newsletter nos. 15-16 (May/November 2001): 35-38

300 Years Ghana-Holland’, a review

Conference Report
Jan G. Platvoet
in AASR-Newsletter 18 (November 2002): 51-56

 

Jan G. Platvoet 2002, “300 Years Ghana-Holland” [review of Ineke van Kessel (ed.) 2002, Merchants, Missionaries & Migrants: 300 Years of Dutch-Ghanaian Relations. Legon: Sub-Saharan Publishers; Amsterdam: KIT Publishers], in AASR-Newsletter 18 (November 2002): 51-56

Enslaving Definitions: A Review

Journal PaperReview
Jan G. Platvoet
in AASR-Newsletter 17 (May 2002): 33-39

Jan G. Platvoet 2002, “Enslaving Definitions: A Review” [review of Henk J. van Rinsum 2001, Slaves of Definition: In Quest of the Unbeliever and the Ignoramus. Maastricht (The Netherlands): Shaker Publications], in AASR-Newsleter 17 (May 2002): 33-39

Pillars, Pluralism & Secularisation: A Social History of Dutch Sciences of Religions

Chapter in a book
Jan G. Platvoet
in G.A. Wiegers (ed.) in association with J.G. Platvoet, Modern Societies & the Science of Religions: Studies in Honour of Lammert Leertouwer. Leiden: Brill, 2002: 82-148
The purpose of this contribution is to present a first draft of a social history of Dutch Science(s) of Religions. In modern (post-1970) Dutch Science of Religions, religions are mostly investigated empirically, that is as cultural phenomena only. Their meta-empirical origin, postulated by believers, is neither denied nor affirmed, because it is meta-testable, and, for that reason, cannot be an object of Science of Religions. Religions are, consequently, regarded only as parts, and products, of the cultural, social and other contexts of historical societies.

San Tricksters and Trancers; a review

Review
Jan G. Platvoet
in Journal of Religion in Africa 32, 4 (2002): 502-506

review of Mathias Guenther, Tricksters and Trancers: Bushman Religion and Society (Bloomington, etc.: Indiana University Press, 1999), in Journal of Religion in Africa 32, 4 (2002): 502-506

Scrutinising Europe’s Mental Maps of Africa, 1500-2000: A Conference Report

Conference Report
Jan G. Platvoet
in Journal of Religion in Africa 32, 1: 124-127

From 4 tot 7 October 2001, forty-four scholars from Europe, Africa and US gathered in Schloss Thurnau, the conference centre of Bayreuth University, Germany, to review ‘European perceptions of the religions of Africa’ in the different academic traditions of Europe from the earliest period of contact till now.

Ghana’s Pentecostalisation; a review

Review
Jan G. Platvoet
in AASR-Newsletter 19 (May 2003): 40-45

Jan G. Platvoet 2003, “Ghana’s Pentecostalisation” [review of Cephas N. Omenyo 2002, Pentecost outside Pentecostalism: A Study of the Development of Charismatic Renewal in the Mainline Churches in Ghana. Zoetermeer: Boekencentrum], in AASR-Newsletter 19 (May 2003): 40-45

'Witchcraft Violence’; a review

Review
Jan G. Platvoet
in AASR-Newsletter no. 20 (November 2003): 26-28

Jan G. Platvoet 2003, “Witchcraft Violence” [review of S.T. Kgatla, Gerrie ter Haar, Wouter E.A. van Beek & Jan J. de Wolf 2003, Crossing Witchcraft Barriers in South Africa; Exploring Witchcraft Accusations: Causes and Solution; A Research Report. Utrecht: Faculty of Social Sciences; Rieksje Pelgrim 2004, South African Police Service Attitudes towards Witchcraft and Witchcraft-related Crime in the Northern Province. Leiden: African Studies Centre], in AASR-Newsletter 20 (November 2003): 26-28

In de mist van “magie”: Over de tyrannie van een dichotomie (In the Mists of ‘Magic’: On the Tyranny of a Dichotomy)

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
in NGG-Nieuwsbrief 2003, 2: 10-20

Mij is gevraagd deze afsluitende bespreking met een stellingname te openen. De stelling die ik wil voorleggen, is de volgende. Het centrale probleem van deze twee studiedagen is m.i. niet de begrippen ‘magie’ en ‘hekserij’, maar de notie ‘godsdienst’, c.q. ‘religie’. Ik ontken niet dat er aan de termen ‘magie’ en ‘hekserij’ vele problemen kleven, zowel als emic voorstellingen en handelingen van gelovigen zelf, als ook als etic begrippen die wij moderne, westerse wetenschappers hanteren om bepaalde voorstellingen en handelingen mee te benoemen en te onderzoeken. Uit de rest van mijn verhaal zal blijken dat ik die problemen in het bijzonder op dat laatste vlak zie opdoemen, dat van onze wetenschappelijke concepten, en veel minder op het eerste vlak van wat de gelovigen geloven en doen. Het fundamentelere probleem is m.i. echter het modern-westers wetenschappelijk
begrip ‘religie’, zoals wij dat als zoeklicht hanteren om het verschijnsel ‘godsdienst’
te vinden,1 en dat ons als instrument dient om ‘godsdiensten’ te benoemen, af te palen, te beschrijven, te interpreteren, en om er pogingen tot verklaring van hen mee te ondernemen en theorievorming over hen te ontwikkelen.

Is Africa Incurably Religious?: Confessing and Contesting an Invention [of Tradition]

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet, Henk J. van Rinsum
in Exchange: Journal of Missiological and Ecumenical Research 32, 2: 123-153
Okot p’Bitek was the first African scholar of religions to challenge the myth that Africa is incurably religious. He battled it in the sixties and early seventies. Until recently, however, he was the only African scholar to oppose it, for other African scholars of religions did not question it. So, the myth grew ever more powerful. Only lately, a few other dissenting voices have begun to be heard. The myth, its explanation, p’Bitek’s opposition to it, and recent evidence against it are examined in this article.

Kwasi Boakye (1827-1904): From Kumase to Java; a review

Review
Jan G. Platvoet
in AASR-Newsletter 19 (May 2003): 45-52

 

Jan G. Platvoet 2003, “Kwasi Boakye (1827-1904): From Kumasi to Java” [review of Athur Japin 2000, The Two Hearts of Kwasi Boakye. London: Vintage; Arthur Japin 1997, De zwarte met het witte hart; roman. Amsterdam: De Arbeiderspers], in AASR-Newsletter 19 (May 2003): 45-52

Minimal & Marginal: Christianity in The Gambia; a review

Review
Jan G. Platvoet
in AASR-Newsletter no. 20 (November 2003): 29-35

 

Jan G. Platvoet 2003, “Minimal and Marginal: Christianity in The Gambia” [review of Martha T. Frederiks 2003, We have Toiled All Night: Christianity in The Gambia, 1456-2000. Zoetermeer: Boekencentrum], in AASR-Newsletter 20 (November 2003): 29-35

Beyond “Primitivism”: “Indigenous Religions”; a review article

Review article
Jan G. Platvoet
AASR Bulletin no 21 (May 2004): 47-52

Jan G. Platvoet 2004, “Beyond ‘Primitivism’: ‘Indigenous Religions'” [review article of Jacob Kehinde Olupona (ed.) 2004, Beyond Primitivism: Indigenous Religious Traditions and Modernity (New York, etc.: Routledge); Graham Harvey (ed.) 2000, Indigenous Religions: A Companion (London, etc.: Cassell); Karen Ralls-MacLeod & Graham Harvey (eds.) 2000, Indigenous Religious Musics (Aldershot, etc.: Ashgate); Graham Harvey (ed.) 2002, Readings in Indigenous Religions (London, etc.: Continuum)], in AASR Bulletin 21 (May 2004): 47-52

Is God Touchable?: On the Materiality of Akan Spirituality

Chapter in a book
Jan G. Platvoet
in Monika Schrimpf, Katja Triplett & Christoph Kleine (eds.) 2004, Unterwegs: Neue Pfade in der Religionswissenschaft; Festschrift für Michael Pye zum 65. Geburtstag / New Paths in the Study of Religions; Festschrift in Honour of Michael Pye on his 65th Birthday. München: Biblion: 175-195

 

The conceptual opposition between the material and the spiritual has become increasingly fundamental, paradigmatic and absolute in modern Western Christian cosmology since the rise of the natural sciences in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. For Western scholars of religions, it is therefore very difficult to conceive of (other) religion(s) in terms other than the Western dichotomies of ‘the natural’ versus ‘the supernatural’. The opposition is so important that we multiply synonyms for it with great ease. One is ‘the material’ versus ‘the spiritual’, another the ‘physical’ versus the ‘metaphysical’, a third ‘the empirical’(world) versus ‘the meta-empirical’ (realm), and a fourth, the ‘seen’ versus the ‘unseen’. A fifth, finally, is the testable world, which is taken as the (one and only) object of research of the sciences, versus the meta-testable realm(s) postulated by religious beliefs (and by certain kinds of metaphysical philosophy). This rigid cosmological divide coincides with another modern Western Christian sharp conceptual dichotomy, that of ‘the holy’ versus ‘the profane’ of Émile Durkheim and Rudolf Otto.

Merchants, Missionaries, & Academics on African Religions, 1594-2000: The Earliest Dutch Contributions

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
Frieder Ludwig & Afe Adogame (eds.), European Traditions in the Study of the Religions of Africa. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, (ISBN 3-447-05002-0), pp.75-96
This article is mainly a programmatic one. It surveys three kinds of Dutch contributions to the History of the Religions of Africa: mercantile, missionary, and academic. Each was made in a different period and context, under different cultural constraints, at the service of different interests, and, therefore, with different aims, and with the use of different strategies in the perception, description, analysis and evaluation of African religions. Each also witnessed its own context-bound dynamics in their perception, description, analysis and evaluation. Space and time allow that I deal in some depth only with the earliest publications in each of these three kinds of Dutch contributions to the study of the religions of Africa. Apart from these earliest publications, the three kinds are surveyed in very general terms only. At a later time, I hope to deal with them in greater detail and for the full length of the period during which they produced contributions to the history of the religions of Africa. The generalities presented in this article about these three kinds are, therefore, provisional only. They need to be substantiated by those later, fuller studies.

Ritual as War: On the Need to De-Westernise the Concept

Chapter in a book
Jan G. Platvoet
in Jens Kreinath, Constance Hartung & Annette Deschner (eds.), The Dynamics of Changing Ritual. New York: Peter Lang, 2004: 243-266
Ritual is habitually seen as repetitive religious behavior solidifying the society or congregation in which it is celebrated. These qualifications are valid for most, but not for all, rituals. Rituals may also be secular events. They  may also be constructed for one particular occasion and purpose only. And they may be a way of exploding a society and of waging war upon one’s enemies. It has taken Western scholars of religions a long time to discover these secular, non-repetitive, explosive rituals, for the modern Western Christian notion of ritual as religious cult solidifying society has thoroughly constrained the perspectives of Western scholars on, and their approaches to, the rituals, religious and secular, of humankind. As an analytical category in ‘Science of Religions’, it must, therefore, be ‘de-Westernised’, if it is serve as an adequate tool for research into the generality of the ritual behaviour of   humankind, both religious and secular.

The Plurality of Healing; a review

Review
Jan G. Platvoet
AASR Bulletin 22 (November 2004): 33-37

The Plurality of Healing; review of Olov Dahlin 2002, Zvinorwadza: Being a Patient in the Religious and Medical Plurality of the Mberenge District, Zimbabwe (Frankfurt a.M., etc: Peter Lang)’, in AASR Bulletin 22 (November 2004): 33-37

Religion and Politics in Africa; a, review

Review
Jan G. Platvoet
in AASR Bulletin 23 (May 2005): 48-55

Jan G. Platvoet 2005, review of Stephen Ellis & Gerrie ter Haar 2004, Worlds of Power: Religious Thought and Political Practice in Africa (London: Hurst), in AASR Bulletin 23 (May 2005): 48-55

Apologies Again

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
AASR Bulletin 24 (November 2005): 53-54

Jan G. Platvoet 2005, “Apologies Again!”, in AASR Bulletin 24 (November 2005): 53-54

Ria Kloppenborg, 8.03.1945-4.10.2003: A Personal Tribute

Obituary
Jan G. Platvoet
in NGG-Nieuwsbrief (December 2005), 15-19

I wrote this In Memoriam at the request of the British Association for the Study of Religions. BASR wished to commemorate her because it had invited her in 1993 to deliver the annual BASR Lecture: Ria Kloppenborg 1994, A Buddhist-Christian Encounter in Sri Lanka: The Panadura Vada. BASR Occasional Paper, no. 9, 15 pp.

This obituary was published in BASR Bulletin 103 (November 2004): 54-56, and in NGG-Nieuwsbrief (December 2005): 15-19

www.a-asr.org

Report
Jan G. Platvoet
in AASR Bulletin 24 (November 2005): 4-8

Jan G. Platvoet 2005, “www.a-asr.org” [AASR website, first report], in AASR Bulletin 24 (November 2005): 4-8

AASR website progress report, II

Report
Jan G. Platvoet
AASR Bulletin 26 (November 2006): 18-20

Jan G. Platvoet 2006, “www.a-asr.org’ [Website Progress Report, II], in AASR Bulletin 26 (November 2006): 18-20

GBT-NS, Akwaab'oo!

Journal PaperReview
Jan G. Platvoet
AASR Bulletin, 26 (November 2006): 39-44

Jan G. Platvoet 2006, “GBT-NS, Akwaab’oo!”, in AASR Bulletin 26 (November 2006): 39-44

On Boundary Hopping and “Primitivism”: Reply to Graham Harvey

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
AASR Bulletin 25 (May 2006): 47-50

Jan G. Platvoet 2006, On Boundary Hopping & ‘Primitivism’; Reply to Graham Harvey, in AASR Bulletin 25 (May 2006): 45-48

Religion's Ambiguity: Barrier or Bridge to Peace?

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
AASR Bulletin 26 (November 2006): 45-50

This volume is the outcome of a conference in May 2001 at the Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in The Hague, The Netherlands, organised by Gerrie ter Haar shortly after she had been appointed at ISS as Professor of Religion, Social Change and Human Rights. Apart from the Preface, Notes on the contributors, the unified bibliography and an index, the volume has four parts: ‘Religion, Conflict and Peace’ (3-118), ‘Religious Perspectives on Conflict and Peace’ (119-200), ‘Visions for Peace’ (201-295), and ‘Documentary Sources on Religion, Violence and Peace’ (297-369).

Ritual: Religious and Secular

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
Jens Kreinath, Jan Snoek & Michael Stausberg (eds.), 2006, Theorising Rituals: Issues, Topics, Approaches, Concepts. Leiden, etc.: Brill, 161-205

‘Ritual’ has by now established a virtual monopoly, terminological, conceptual and theoretical, for itself in the semantic field of terms denoting not only actions by means of which believers presume that they communicate with meta-empirical realms and beings, but also in clusters designating secular modes of expressive behaviour, social as well as solitary. The term rules supreme now, not only in scholarly research, but also in ordinary language, as witness two random quotes from the Dutch daily paper Trouw of 20.09.- 2003. One refers to “the rituals and etiquette of [Parliament]”, i.e. a secular social interaction;2 the other to “the immensely satisfying ritual of laying a table”, i.e. a form of solitary stylised behaviour.3 Darwin’s survival of the fittest and elimination of the weak may, therefore, be well applied also to ritual for having so successfully eliminated its semantic competitors.

Website Progress Report

Report
Jan G. Platvoet
AASR Bulletin 25 (May 2006): 13-16.

 

Jan G. Platvoet 2005, Website Progress Report, in AASR Bulletin 25 (May 2006): 13-16

East Africa’s ‘Internal Terror’: Witchcraft Panic and Other Religious Responses to AIDS

Review
Jan G. Platvoet
AASR Bulletin 27+28 (May/November 2007): 62-67

Jan G. Platvoet 2007, “East Africa’s ‘Internal Terror’: Witchcraft Panic and Other Religious Responses to AIDS” [review of Felicitas Becker & P. Wenzel Geissler (eds.) 2007, AIDS and Religious Practice in East Africa; special issue of Journal of Religion in Africa 37, 1: 1-49], in AASR Bulletin 27/28 (May/November 2007): 62-67

Ethnogenesis as an Arena: Were the Lemba Black Jews?

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
Ghana Bulletin of Theology NS 2 (July 2007): 105-134

Introduction

In mid-July 2006, a colleague in the Department for the Study of Religions in the University of Ghana informed me that the Department was resuscitating The Ghana Bulletin of Theology. He asked me to contribute, at a week’s notice, a one-page review of a book of my own choice. So, I looked at the books on my desk, spotted Magdel Le Roux’s on the Lemba, and decided that her book dealt with a matter of interest to scholars of the religions of Africa, and that I might try to supply the requested review in a week, or at most in a fortnight. The one or two page review I planned has, however, meanwhile grown into a review article, because the more closely I studied the book, the more I began to doubt whether, despite numerous qualifications, she is correct in presuming that the Lemba were indeed ‘black Jews’ with a past reaching back into pre-exilic Israel. An alternative explanation of the data Le Roux provides seemed required. This article is an attempt at formulating one.

Towards Job Descriptions of the AASR Executive

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
AASR Bulletin 27+28 (May/November 2007): 18-32

An AASR-officer indicated in mid-2004 that he found his job ‘amorphous’.1 He had received no guidelines as to what precisely he was expected to achieve for the AASR. He felt ‘beleaguered by lack of clarity of the job’s responsibilities’ and was unsure what he should do. Another felt ‘constrained [… by] the informal nature of our association’, and also ‘not clear what [she] ought to be doing’, and ‘hard put to explain, particularly to potential new members what exactly the association is about and what the benefits of belonging to this association are beyond receiving the newsletter’. The members of the AASR-Nominations Committee 2005-2010, of which I was asked to serve as convener, likewise felt a need for articulating what each AASR office entailed when they reflected on whom they might best nominate for the several AASR offices in the next quinquennial period 2005-2010. They felt that their efforts at this articulation might also assist the officers to move beyond a mere intuition of what their posts entail, and thereby to serve the AASR more efficiently.

Is Africa Incurably Religious?, III: A Reply to a Rhetorical Response

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet & Henk van Rinsum
Exchange 37, 2: 156-173

We reply in this article to Kehinde Olabimtan’s polemical response to our article, ‘Is Africa Incurably Religious?: Confessing and Contesting an Invention’ [of Tradition], both published in this journal in 2003. We fi rst review the setting of this exchange: the theological character of the journal Exchange, and then point to Olabimtan’s strategy of polemically presenting our analysis in the terms of the old ‘war’ between atheist and religious scholarship on religions. Having carefully summarised the ‘weapons’ he used in his ‘counter-attack’ on our analysis, we dispassionately respond to them by pointing out fi rst that our analysis was not inspired by an atheist approach to religions, but by methodological agnosticism, and then reply to Olabimtan’s other misrepresentations of us and of p’Bitek. We conclude by pointing to the ‘bridges’ between his and our approaches, which Olabimtan did not explode.

AASR Finances: Its Past Its Future?

Conference
Jan G. Platvoet
AASR Bulletin 31 (December 2009): 8-15

Introduction It seems opportune, for several reasons, to present a survey of the history of AASR finances. One reason is a letter Frans Wijsen, AASR Representative for Europe since July 2007, sent me. During the AASR conference in Gaborone he volunteered to serve in that office after Gerrie ter Haar had reported that Henk van Rinsum had requested to be relieved from that office. Frans wrote to me (in Dutch): ‘In Botswana, I was jolted into the office of AASR Representative for Europe in a chaotic meeting. I have a feeling that I have not really found my bearings as yet in this office’.

Breaking the Chains of Silence and Shame

ConferenceJournal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
AASR Bulletin 29 & 30 (November 2008 / May 2009): 33-40

This moving book tells the real life stories of 28 men and women in Africa who live, or lived, with HIV or AIDS,42 one for each of the 28 millions Africans that according to UNAIDS were infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in 2006.43 In addition, it has an introduction (1- 17) and an epilogue (347-352). In the latter, Nolen relates briefly how the 28 she had interviewed since 1997 were doing in 2006 at the time the book went into production: four had died, three she could not reach; of the remaining 21, only one was in poor health. The others were in good health, thanks to the ARVs (antiretroviral drugs), and most were active in movements that try to break the chains of silence and shame that keep Sub-Saharan Africa in the grip of this pandemic which had already killed 22 million Africans by 2006. Infection rates had begun to decline by then, in part due to ARV-treatment, in part because death had already wiped out those most likely to spread the virus. Death rates, however, had not yet declined, because only one in four of those in need of treatment were as yet on ARVs (350). And she argues that it is unlikely that the G8 goal of universal access to ARVs by 2010 (253) will be reached, for one reason because of corruption and inefficiency, for another because only half of the funds needed to fight HIV/AIDS effectively is available (350-352).

Theologie als dubbelspel: Over de verscheidenheid en dynamiek van theologie en godsdienstwetenschap

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
Nederlands Theologisch Tijdschrift 63, 3: 221-236

The complex and shifting relationships between Dutch academic theology and godsdienstwetenschap (the neutral study of religions) are examined in this article from the perspective of science of religions. It has four parts. In the first section, the expanding fields of study and increase in multidisciplinarity of theology and science of religions are sketched, and the growing overlap between them, causing sizable parts of academic theology to become ‘de-theologised’. The relationship between theology and religion is next examined from the perspective of the history of religions. It shows that theology is as much a liability as it is an asset to religions. In the final two sections, the current plurality of theology and science of religions is sketched and the shifting relations between their various kinds.

www.a-asr.org: Progress Report, III

Report
Jan G. Platvoet
AASR Bulletin 29 & 30 (November 2008 / May 2009): 4-9

Six important developments have taken place with respect to the AASR website (www.a-asr.org). Three of these are positive: it is growing fast; an Assistant Webmaster has been found to provide help in moderating it; and the AASR website has been transferred from my son’s private server to a commercial server at very moderate cost to the AASR. Three are negative: its e-mail facility for the AASR Executive and for AASR conferences has been closed down, as has the AASR Members-Only Forums facility. And the Site Statistics page is currently ‘down’. 2 As an electronic archive, the AASR website is still embryonical. I touch on all these points in this report. I conclude it with a vote of thanks.

An Impromtu Report

ConferenceReport
Jan G. Platvoet
AASR Bulletin 32 (May 2006): 10-13

On my return home, on 24th January 2010, I found an e-mail from Rosalind Hackett asking how the Ile-Ife conference had gone. I send her the following impromtu report, which I have slightly adapted.
The book of abstracts of this conference has 58 pages and contains the 106 paper proposals (title and summary) that were accepted by the Local Organizers, Dr. David Ogungbile (Ile-Ife) and Dr. Oyeronke Olademo (Ilorin). So, there was great interest in this conference. Not all made it to the conference, however. The list of those who actually read a paper has 58 names (as well as their institutions, and e-mail addresses). Jacob Olupona, Matthews Ojo and others expressed gratitude and pride that participants from as many as 23 different Nigerian institutions in Religious Studies attended. This conference was therefore not only a major event for the AASR and Ile-Ife, but also for scholarship in religions in Nigeria. On Monday 18th, early in the morning, we received the colourful 14 page programme of the conference. It listed the Aims of the AASR; its Executive; General Information; the Profiles of the three Guest Speakers; and the schedule of the sessions.

Dead Wood: A Proposed Revision of the AASR Constitution

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
AASR Bulletin 32 (May 2010): 6-9

Why revise the AASR Constitution? The present AASR Constitution was drafted in 1994 as part of the process of applying for affiliation to the International Association for the History of Religions (IAHR). Though there is no record in AASR Newsletter 4 (November 1995) that the AASR Constitution was actually formally put before the first AASR General Meeting in Mexico City on August 6, 1995 for discussion and decision, we may surmise that it was formally adopted then and so began to serve as AASR Constitution in 1995. Moreover, it was published in AASR Newsletter 5 (April 1996), pp. 10-12. It has since also been posted on the AASR website at http://www.a-asr.org/index.php?id=17.   The 1995 constitution seems to have sat quietly in these two places for the past fifteen years without being consulted much in order to find out how it should govern AASR affairs, as is clear from the many discrepancies between the stipulations of current the AASR Constitution and AASR praxis. Moreover, nobody seems to have noticed the gap between rule and praxis, or if they noticed it, to have been bothered by it. AASR Constitution 1995 actually seems a document with much ‘dead wood’

Restructuring the IAHR Executive

Conference
Jan G. Platvoet, Gerrie ter Haar
AASR Bulletin 33 (November 2010): 14-28

This proposal is submitted to the IAHR International Committee for discussion and decision in its meeting at Toronto in August 2010 on behalf of the African Association for the Study of Religions (AASR). It proposes that the IAHR Executive be restructured into four functional triads, as set out below. This model allows all officers to be actively involved in the government of the IAHR and in further strengthening and expanding the IAHR in the decades ahead.

Restructuring the IAHR Executive

Conference Report
Jan G. Platvoet, Gerrie ter Haar
AASR Bulletin 33 (November 2010): 14-28

Summary
This proposal is submitted to the IAHR International Committee for discussion and decision in its meeting at Toronto in August 2010 on behalf of the African Association for the Study of Religions (AASR). It proposes that the IAHR Executive be restructured into four functional triads, as set out below. This model allows all officers to be actively involved in the government of the IAHR and in further strengthening and expanding the IAHR in the decades ahead.

Godsdienst en geweld in Afrika

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
Onze Krant: Contactblad Sociëteit voor Afrikaanse Missiën 48, nr. 154 (september 2011): 8-11

Jan G. Platvoet 2001, ‘Godsdienst en geweld in Afrika’, in Onze Krant: Contactblad Sociëteit voor Afrikaanse Missiën 48, nr. 154 (september 2011): 8-11

Oorlog en godsdienst in Afrika Velen, en vooral zij die het beste voor hebben met Afrika, worden mismoedig van de stroom berichten over oorlogen in Afrika, vooral als die godsdienstig geïnspireerd zijn, zoals recentelijk in de Ivoorkust en Nigeria, die tussen christenen in het zuiden en moslims in het noorden. Een ander voorbeeld is Soedan. Daar heeft op 1 juli 2011 het christelijk- en inheems-gelovige zuiden zich als Zuid-Soedan afgescheiden van het moslimse noorden na een halve eeuw burgeroorlog. Eerst was er de Anyanya opstand, van 1955 tot 1972. Die kostte in het zuiden aan een half miljoen mensen het leven. Daarna, toen het noorden in 1983 de sharia invoerde, brak een tweede opstand uit die tot 2002 duurde. Die eiste maar liefst twee miljoen levens en verdreef vier miljoen mensen van huis en haard, weer allemaal in het zuiden. Na 1945 heeft geen oorlog meer dood en ontreddering gebracht dan deze oorlog tussen moslims en christenen (en gelovigen van inheemse godsdiensten) om het zuiden van Soedan en zijn olie-rijkdom.

Reflections on Toronto 2010, I

Conference Report
Jan G. Platvoet
AASR Bulletin 35 (November 2011): 28-38

The 20th quinquennial IAHR Congress met at the University of Toronto, Canada, from 15th to 21st August 2010. It was a milestone in the history of the academic study of religions worldwide, and a great event for me personally. Criticism, however, is also due. I will report and reflect on this congress in two instalments, as a participant in the congress, and as AASR delegate, together with Afe Adogame, to the meeting of the IAHR International Committee (IC) on Wednesday 18 August 2010. In that meeting, the AASR proposal to restructure the IAHR Executive into four functional triads (Platvoet & ter Haar 2010) was extensively discussed and rejected. AASR had proposed that reform to promote the active involvement of all elected IAHR officers in the government of IAHR, and thereby enhance the integration of IAHR affiliates worldwide, and redress, to some degree at least, the grave centre-periphery imbalance that presently obtains in the IAHR. IAHR has globalized greatly since the late 1980s in the sense that it expanded worldwide, as we have duly indicated in our analysis (Platvoet & ter Haar 2010: 15-20). But, by not actively involving all its elected Officers, the IAHR Executive has so far forestalled that its ‘outlying’ new affiliates obtain a real share in the government of the IAHR. Thereby it not only precludes their full integration into the IAHR, but also frustrates its own globalisation. Our aim is, therefore, to decrease somewhat IAHR’s Eurocentrism and to further its globalisation.

2012, ‘Nyame ne Aberewa: Towards a History of Akan Notions of God’

Journal Paper
Jan G. Platvoet
in Ghana Bulletin of Theology N.S. 4 (December 2012): 41-68

Jan G. Platvoet 2012, ‘Nyame ne Aberewa: Towards a History of Akan Notions of God’, in Ghana Bulletin of Theology N.S. 4 (December 2012): 41-68

2013, 'Onto the Global Scene', review

Review
Jan G. Platvoet
AASR Bulletin 38: 16-20

2013, ‘Onto the Global Scene’, review of Afe Adogame, Ezra Chitando & Bolaji Bateye (eds.) 2013, African Traditions in the Study of Religion, Diaspora and Gendered Societies (Williston (VT): Ashgate Publishing), in AASR Bulletin 38 (May 2013): 16-20

2013, A Pugnacious Book, review

Review
Jan G. Platvoet
AASR Bulletin 38: 12-15

2013, ‘A Pugnacious Book’, review of Sabine Jell-Bahlsen 2008, The Water Goddess in Igbo Cosmology: Ogbuide of Oguta Lake (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press), in AASR Bulletin 38 (May 2013): 12-15

2014, "Cape Town 2014" (conference report)

Review
Jan G. Platvoet
AASR Bulletin 41: 23-29

2014, “Cape Town 2014” (conference report), in AASR Bulletin 41 (November 2014) 23-29

A Battle Lost or Won?

Chapter in a book
Jan. G. Platvoet
in Cephas N. Omenyo & Eric B. Anum (eds.) 2014, Trajectories of Religion in Africa: Essays in Honour of John S. Pobee. Amsterdam/New York: Rodopi, 49-84

Jan G. Platvoet 2014, ‘A Battle Lost or Won: The 1970-1975 Utrecht Ecumenical Experiment in Academic Theology’, in Cephas N. Omenyo & Eric B. Anum (eds.) 2014, Trajectories of Religion in Africa: Essays in Honour of John S. Pobee. Amsterdam/New York: Rodopi, 49-84.

2014, Why Should the AASR Constitution Be Revised?

Report
Jan G. Platvoet
AASR Bulletin 40: 6-15

2014, “Why Should the AASR Constutition Be Revised?”, in AASR Bulletin 40 (May 2014): 6-15

Inventing God; review

Review
Jan G. Platvoet
AASR Bulletin 41: 36-38

2014, Inventing God, review of James L. Cox 2014, The Invention of God in Indigenous Societies (Durham: Acumen), in AASR Bulletin 41 (November 2014): 36-38

2015, Review of James L. Cox 2014, The Invention of God in Indigenous Societies

Review
Jan G. Platvoet
Journal of Religion in Africa 45, 3: (2015): 335-337

2015, Review of James L. Cox 2014,The I nvention of God in Indigenous Societies. Durham: Acumen, x + 182 pp., ISBN 978 1 84465 754 4, $76.86 (hard cover); 978 1 84465 755 1, $24.05 (soft cover); in Journal of Religion in Africa 45, 2: 335-337.

At the Battlefield of Sexual Diversity

Conference Report
Jan G. Platvoet
AASR Bulletin 45 (November 2016): 19-35

Jan G. Platvoet 2016, ‘At the Battlefield of Sexual Diversity: The 7th AASR Conference in Africa, Legon, Ghana, 26-29 July 2016’, in AASR Bulletin 45 (November 2016): 19-35

AASR met at the beautiful University of Ghana (UG) campus at Legon, Accra, Ghana, from 26 to 29 July,  to discuss the hot issue of ‛Religion, Sexuality, and Identity in Africa & the African Diaspora’. Sexual diversity  has become an explosive issue in most African societies, continental as well as diasporic, since some two decades, because complex and  rapid social and cultural transformations, endemic as well as global, caused a formerly concealed diversity of sexual identities (and practices) to surface also in African societies. Those endowed with them began to actively vie for moral and legal room for them, and for recognition and for acceptance of them on a par with hetero-sexuality. However, the field of problems to be addressed in this conference comprised also those of gender, HIV/AIDS, and religion. Due to the rapid and fundamental changes in the relative positions of males and females in societies in the past few decades worldwide, gender rules have become much more fluid, brittle, complex, variable and uncertain, and at times more violent, especially in African societies that  have also been deeply affected in the past three decades. by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The other main focus of the discussion during this conference was, naturally, the role the religions of Africa and its Diaspora played in these three sets of interlocking problems: sexual diversity, gender-based violence and HIV/AIDS.