Globalization and the cultural effects of the world-economy in a semiperiphery: The emergence of African Indigenous Churches in South Africa

Type Journal Article - Journal of World-Systems Research
Title Globalization and the cultural effects of the world-economy in a semiperiphery: The emergence of African Indigenous Churches in South Africa
Volume 5
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 1999
Page numbers 104-126
Applied to religious phenomena, globalization theories which explain the emergence of an interdependent world-system provide the largest possible macro-framework against which to view both societal and individual interactions. While both individual decisions and national forces are important and legitimate concerns, consideration of how these relate to globalization present an important additional analytical level which should not be ignored. Such macro-structural explanations are usually neglected in accounts of the rise of African Indigenous Churches (AICs), due to an affinity among AIC specialists for a focus on micro-variables. Where macro-variables are incorporated in analyses (e.g. Barrett 1968, Daneel 1987), these tend to focus on the effects of colonialism within the national sphere. The application of globalization theories to religious movements is relatively undeveloped, and so what follows is by necessity exploratory. Roland Robertson, the pioneer in this field, has analysed how state-religion tensions across the globe arise from the politicization of religion, and the religionization of politics - the result of globalization (Robertson 1985, 1987, 1989, 1992). Other attempts at harnessing globalization theory to religious phenomena include an analysis of Anglo-American religion (P Smith 1986), Catholicity (Robertson 1987a), Japanese religion (Robertson 1987b), and Islam (Akbar & Donnan 1994). Several anthologies have examined the relationship of religion to globality, particularly in relation to the political order (e.g. Swatos 1989; Robertson & Garrett 1991; cf. McNeill 1994). More recently Peter Beyer (1994) offered a theoretical and applied examination of the topic, while Raymond Bulman (1996) examined the implications of theology for world-systems analysis. My overall purpose in this article is to demonstrate theoretically -- by using J De Wet's (1994) description of the emergence of Zionist-Apostolic churches in the Eastern former homeland of Transkei -- how globalization trends articulated with national socio-economic developments in South Africa to contribute to the rise of AICs. My modest intention is not to construct a new theory about the emergence of the AICs, but rather to converge two existing discourses in the social sciences, namely globalization theories and sociological analysis of the emergence of the AICs. To this end I engage with work on Zionist AICs in South Africa by Martin West (1975), on Zionism in Soweto by Jim Kiernan and on Zulu Zionism in Durban (1990), and by Allan Anderson on the Zion Christian Church in Soshanguve (1995). I situate their findings against developments in the rest of Africa, as outlined by Bennetta Jules-Rosette (1989). For insights into globalization and its application to religion, I use Peter Beyer's (1994) and Roland Robertson's works. Beyer combines four world-system theorists, so that globalization can be seen as resulting in a global economy (Immanuel Wallerstein), a global culture (Robertson), a global society (Niklas Luhmann), and a global polity (John Meyer). The rest of this article is organized into the following sections: First, I outline some empirical data concerning linguistic and economic characteristics of AICs based on surveys conducted by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and by Anderson (1992, 1995). Then I review the usual arguments put forward for the emergence of AICs as a precursor to a summary of De Wet's theory about Transkei Zionism. In a third section, I briefly present Beyer's sketch of four major globalization theories, before venturing to apply them to the emergence of AICs.

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