Of Revelation and Revolution, Vol. 1
Of Revelation and Revolution is at once a highly imaginative, richly detailed history of colonialism, Christianity, and consciousness in South Africa, and a theoretically challenging consideration of the most difficult questions posed by the nature of social experience. In this first of two volumes, Jean and John Comaroff explore the early phases of the encounter between British missionaries and the Tswana peoples of the South African Frontier. Tracing the cultural backgrounds of both parties, they pay particular attention to the rise of European modernity and its colonizing impulse, to the contemporary images of Africans embedded in that impulse, and to the complex worlds of precolonial Africa. They show how the efforts of evangelists to change the social and material practices of the Tswana produced new forms of consciousness in both colonizer and colonized – and subtle forms of agency, appropriation, and resistance on the part of the latter. The Comaroffs grapple in exciting new ways with issues of power and resistance, agency and intention, ideology and hegemony, culture and materiality that have long vexed social scientists and humanists They reveal how structures of inequality in the colonial encounter were often fashioned as much by quiet means of domination as by naked violence. In reflecting on “the colonization of consciousness and the consciousness of colonization,” the Comaroffs provide fresh insight into the dialectics of culture and power that shape all historical processes.