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Hornsey, Helen D. (1979) Religion in a Fante town of Southern Ghana. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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The thesis gives the result of 15 months' field research undertaken by the writer in the Fante town of Saltpond in Ghana, West Africa. Part I poses two questions. Why have "modem", universalistic faiths like Christianity achieved their profound impact? But also, why do "traditional" belief and ritual continue to flourish alongside? The chapter explains that answers will be sought by viewing the various beliefs in the light of relations between groups or individuals. This is considered preferable to the alternative "symbological" or "structuralist" approach. Part II examines politicoeconomic organisation. Chapter 2 assesses the development of "class" stratification based upon differences of education, occupation and income. Chapter 3 considers kinship organisation, concluding (contrary to some previous writers) that descent is matrilineal, and that matriliny yetawhile retains significance. Chapter 4 discusses "traditional" political institutions, finding them still relevant to contemporary conditions, Part III considers the "modem" religion of Christianity. Chapter 5 reviews its local history, and classifies the various churches into three types: Establishment, Fundamentalist, and African. Chapter 6 examines church congregations for differences in social composition, showing them to unite members of particular interest groups based on class, ethnic origin, or sex. Part IV explores the contemporary importance of "traditional" religion. Chapter 7 describes the local deities, finding them still regarded as effective sources of benefits. Chapter 8 elucidates their continuing significance for local, "traditional", political organisation. Chapter 9 discusses causation of misfortune: witchcraft, most specifically, is discussed in the light of conflict between matrilinearity and paternity. Chapter 10 shows the African churches as now rivalling local deities in counteracting witchcraft. These chapters together reveal an esoteric sphere wherein behaviour is inconsistent with professed belief. Part V explains the vitality of Christianity and the continuance of "traditional" belief by reference to the various structural cleavages which they define and articulate. These findings are shown to bear implications for hypotheses connecting different structural conditions with the persistence of tradition and the emergence of class-based sub-cultures. The thesis advances anthropological study in two respects. Firstly, it adds to the ethnography of an area now represented only relatively sparsely. Secondly, it contributes to the theory of religious symbolism, supporting the view that cosmological systems are integrated by a logic inherent in the social system.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:15

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