Creating "a place to feel at home" : Christian church life and social control in Lusaka, Zambia (1970s)

TitleCreating "a place to feel at home" : Christian church life and social control in Lusaka, Zambia (1970s)
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2000
AuthorsW.M.J. van Binsbergen
EditorW.M.J. van Binsbergen, P.J.J. Konings, and G.S.C.M. Hesseling
Secondary TitleTrajectoires de libération en Afrique contemporaine : hommage à Robert Buijtenhuijs
Pagination223 - 250
Date Published2000///
PublisherKarthala [etc.]
Place PublishedParis [etc.]
Publication Languageeng
Keywordscapitals, Catholic Church, fieldwork, identity, Rural, social structure, urban life, Zambia

In this chapter the author explores how the inhabitants of Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, have used their church organization to create a viable social texture for themselves, serving political, economic and kinship goals way beyond the letter of the gospel. In Zambia, towns only came into being during the colonial period. The author starts with a discussion of the relative importance of continuity and transformation in the urban social structure of rural patterns of social relations. He then presents a long monologue of just one urban protagonist, recorded during fieldwork in 1972-1973. Mrs. Evelyn Phiri lives in the township of Kapemperere in Lusaka, and is a member of a well-established church body, the Roman Catholic Church. Her monologue highlights the discussion of elements of continuity and transformation. The church appears as a local formal organization, as a structure of material and ideological/spiritual assistance, and finally as a structure of social control. It assumes functions which can only be understood against the background of preexisting rural traditional patterns, yet caters for needs of crisis support, conflict regulation and the expression of group identity and an emerging class structure. This provides a framework within which to identify urban social processes such as they manifest themselves in the social drama evocated in Mrs. Phiri's monologue. Notes, ref

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Citation Key1539