EIHS Lecture: "The Politics of Transcendence in Colonial Uganda"
University of Michigan
The “Church of God Who Can Do All Things” was formed in 1914 in the kingdom of Buganda. Members of the church—they were called Malakites—thought disease was an act of divine providence. The Christian elite that governed Buganda was horrified by the Malakites, and they worked to suppress the church. Professor Peterson will argue that temporality was at issue in this contest over disease. Buganda’s Protestant elite were invested in the timetable of colonial modernity. The Malakites would not recognize the bureaucracies that guided Ganda politics. Illness leveraged the body outside regimentary time and into a different dispensation. In Malakite Christianity we can see illness as a condition that leads not unto death, but to new life.
Derek Peterson, Professor of History and Afro-American and African Studies at the University of Michigan, is a historian of eastern Africa’s intellectual cultures. His first book, Creative Writing (2004), concerned the history of Gikuyu-language literature in central Kenya. More recently Peterson’s work has shifted largely to Uganda. His second book, Ethnic Patriotism and the East African Revival (2012), was a study of a Christian conversion movement that provoked eastern Africa’s patriotic community-builders. The book was awarded the African Studies Association’s Herskovits Prize and the American Historical Association’s Martin Klein Prize, and was first runner-up for the American Society for Church History’s Phillip Schaff Prize.
Free and open to the public.
This lecture is part of the Thursday Series of the Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies. It is made possible by a generous contribution from Kenneth and Frances Aftel Eisenberg.