Department of Religious Studies

Prof. d Chidester

Prof. David Chidester

Comparative Religion

Prof. David Chidester is a prolific writer and an internationally acclaimed scholar in the field of comparative religion, Prof Chidester's interests lie in the relationships between religion and globalization, religion and popular culture, religion in society and the problems of social cohesion. He has written extensively on religion in South Africa , North America , as well as religion and education. Prof Chidester is a two-time winner of the American Academy of Religion's “Award for Excellence in Religious Studies”. In 2005, he was evaluated as an A-rated researcher by the National Research Foundation and received the Alan J. Pifer Award for Social Research.

Selected Publications

Wild Religion: Tracking the Sacred in South Africa (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012). 280pp. ISBN 9780520273078; ISBN 9780520273085.



“Pure Heritage: Indigenous, Missionary, and Anthropological Constructions of Sexual Purity in South Africa,” in Petra Rösch and Udo Simon, eds., How Purity is Made (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2012): 451-473. ISBN 9783447065429.

“Dreaming in the Contact Zone: Zulu Dreams, Visions, and Religion in Nineteenth-Century South Africa,” in Richard D. Hecht and Vincent F. Biondo III, eds., Religion and Culture: Contemporary Practices and Perspectives (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 2012): 47-63. ISBN 9780800698980. (Textbook)

 “African Christian Communities,” in Mary Pat Fisher and Lee W. Bailey, eds., An Anthology of Living Religions, third edition (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2012): 266-268. ISBN 9780205246809. (Textbook)

“Colonialism” (in Japanese). In Beyond the Concept of Religion. Eds. Isomae J & Yamamoto T. Kyoto: Hozokan. 213-240. ISBN 978-4-8318-8174-8. 2011.

“Darwin’s Dogs: Animals, Animism, and the Problem of Religion”. In Secular Faith. Eds. Lloyd VW & Ratzman E. Eugene, Oregon: Cascade Books. 76-101. ISBN 976-1-60899-076-4. 2011.

“Imperial Reflections, Colonial Situations: James Frazer, Henri-Alexandre Junod, and the Indigenous Ritual in Southern Africa”. In Ritual Dynamics and the Science of Ritual, Volume IV: Reflexivity, Media, and Visuality.  Ed. Michaels A. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. 237-264. ISBN 978-3-447-06204-6. 2011.

Savage Systems: Religion and Colonialism in Southern Africa (in Japanese). Trans. Nishimura Akira and Shim Sun-Young. Tokyo: Aoki-Shoten. 414 pages. ISBN 978-4-250-2109-9. 2010.

Darwin's Dogs: animals, animism, and the problem of religion. Soundings, XCII(1-2): 51-75.2009.

Savage Systems: Religion and Colonialism. Korea: Seoul Kyong Sae Won. 558pp. ISBN 978 89 8341 079 5. 2008.

Keywords for religion, media and culture. In M. David (ed.), Keywords in Religion, Media and Culture, pp. 83-95. New York: Routledge Journals, Taylor & Francis Ltd. ISBN 978 0 415 44863 5. 2008.

'Religion' and 'violence' in contemporary South Africa. In T. Asad and J. Isomae (eds), Renarrating Religion: Reconsideration of the Modern Category, pp. 108-128. Japan: Tokyo: Misuzu-Shobu. ISBN 4 622 07230 0. 2008.

Real and imagined: Imperial inventions of religion in colonial southern Africa. In T. Fitzgerald (ed.), Religion and the Secular: Historical and Colonial Formations, pp. 153-176. London: Equinox. ISBN 9781845532673. 2007.

Religious animals, refuge of the Gods, and the spirit of revolt: W. E. B. Du Bois' representations of indigenous African religion. In M. Keller and C. Fontenot (eds) Re-Cognizing W.E.B. Du Bois in the Twenty-First Century, pp. 34-60. Augusta, Ga.: Mercer University Press. ISBN 978-0-88146-077-3. 2007.

Studying religion in South Africa. In M.E. Courville (ed.), The Next Step in Studying Religion: A Graduate's Guide, pp. 75-115. London: Continuum. ISBN 9780826498434. 2007.

Religion education in South Africa. In M. de Souza, K. Engebretson, G. Durka, R. Jackson and A. McGrady (eds), International Handbook of the Religious, Moral and Spiritual Dimensions in Education, pp. 433-448. New York: Springer. ISBN 9781402048036. 2006.

Indigenous traditions, alien abductions: Creolized and globalized memory in South Africa. in O.B. Stier and J. Landres (eds), Religion, violence, memory, and place: 181-197. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.2006.

Religion and violence in contemporary South Africa (in Japanese). In T. Asad and J. Isomae (eds), Renarrating religion: Reconsideration of the modern category: 108-128. Tokyo: Misuzu-shobu. 2006.

African Christian communities. in M. Juergensmeyer (ed), The Oxford handbook of global religions: 349-356. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2006.

Authentic Fakes: Religion and American Popular Culture ( Berkeley : University of California Press, 2005).

Legacy of Freedom: The ANC's Human Rights Tradition , edited with Kader Asmal and Cassius Lubisi ( Johannesburg and Cape Town : Jonathan Ball Publishers, 2005)

South Africa's Nobel Laureates: Peace, Literature, and Science , edited with Kader Asmal and Wilmot James ( Johannesburg and Cape Town : Jonathan Ball Publishers, 2004).

Religion, Politics, and Identity in a Changing South Africa , edited with Abdulkader Tayob and Wolfram Weisse ( Berlin : Waxmann, 2004).

What Holds Us Together: Social Cohesion in South Africa , edited with Phillip Dexter and Wilmot James ( Cape Town : HSRC Press, 2003).

Salvation and Suicide: Jim Jones, the Peoples Temple , and Jonestown , Revised Edition ( Bloomington : Indiana University Press, 2003).

Nelson Mandela: From Freedom to the Future , edited with Kader Asmal and Wilmot James ( Johannesburg and Cape Town : Jonathan Ball Publishers, 2003).

Patterns of Transcendence: Religion, Death, and Dying , Second Edition ( Belmont , Calif. : Wadsworth , 2002).

Christianity: A Global History ( London : Allen Lane/Penguin; San Francisco : HarperCollins, 2000).

African Traditional Religion in South Africa : An Annotated Bibliography , with Chirevo Kwenda, Robert Petty, Judy Tobler, and Darrel Wratten (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1997).

Christianity in South Africa : An Annotated Bibliography , with Judy Tobler and Darrel Wratten (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1997).

Islam, Hinduism, and Judaism in South Africa , with Judy Tobler and Darrel Wratten (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1997).

Savage Systems: Colonialism and Comparative Religion in Southern Africa (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1996).

American Sacred Space , edited with Edward T. Linenthal (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995).

Religion in Public Education: Options for a New South Africa , with Gordon Mitchell, Isabel Apawo Phiri, and A. Rashied Omar, 2nd. ed. (Cape Town: UCT Press, 1994).

Word and Light: Seeing, Hearing, and Religious Discourse (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1992).

Religions of South Africa (London: Routledge, 1992).

Shots in the Streets: Violence and Religion in South Africa (Boston: Beacon Press, 1991; Cape Town: Oxford University Press, 1992).

Patterns of Power: Religion and Politics in American Culture (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1988).

Patterns of Action: Religion and Ethics in a Comparative Perspective (Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth, 1987).