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Ethnic Patriotism and the East African Revival


  • 6 b/w illus. 3 maps
  • Page extent: 370 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.71 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 305.6/7676082
  • Dewey version: 23
  • LC Classification: BR115.P7 P445 2012
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Christianity and politics--Africa, East--History--20th century
    • East Africa Revival--History
    • Conversion--Christianity
    • Christianity and culture--Africa, East
    • Africa, East--Church history--20th century

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9781107021167)

Ethnic Patriotism and the East African Revival shows how, in the era of African political independence, cosmopolitan Christian converts struggled with East Africa's patriots over the definition of culture and community. The book traces the history of the East African Revival, an evangelical movement that spread through much of eastern and central Africa. Its converts offered a subversive reading of culture, disavowing their compatriots and disregarding their obligations to kin. They earned the ire of East Africa's patriots, who worked to root people in place as inheritors of ancestral wisdom. This book casts religious conversion in a new light: not as an inward reorientation of belief, but as a political action that opened up novel paths of self-narration and unsettled the inventions of tradition.

• First book to take on East Africa as an integrated theatre of political action • Re-conceptualizes religious conversion as an act of political dissent • Offers a new framework for analyzing African literature


List of illustrations; Acknowledgments; 1. Introduction: the pilgrims' politics; 2. The infrastructure of cosmopolitanism; 3. Religious movements in southern Uganda; 4. Civil society in Buganda; 5. Taking stock: conversion and accountancy in Bugufi; 6. Patriotism and dissent in western Kenya; 7. The politics of moral reform in northwestern Tanganyika; 8. Subjects of the law: conversion and court procedure; 9. Casting characters: autobiography and political argument in central Kenya; 10. Confession, slander, and civic virtue in Mau Mau detention camps; 11. Contests of time in western Uganda; Conclusion: pilgrims and patriots in contemporary East Africa; Bibliography.

Prize Winner

2013 Martin A. Klein Prize


'In this superb book, Peterson pulls off the rare feat of combining a compelling, comprehensive argument about a huge regional movement with sharply drawn, detailed documentation of the local singularity of the forms it took in seven different areas in Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya. The big picture positions the East African Revival as a form of critical practice, engaged in contestation with alternative, more conservative visions of society based on ethnic consolidation and the re-invention of tradition. In the documentation of local trajectories, what comes through most vividly is the converts themselves, in all their idiosyncrasy and humanity … individual voices and vignettes reveal the energy, initiative, and creativity these people brought to the radical project of convening a new kind of community. This book is a major achievement by any standards - original, convincing, deeply and broadly researched, and beautifully written.' Karin Barber, University of Birmingham

'This is a remarkable book, admirably researched and deeply thoughtful … Few historians of Africa have equalled Peterson's capacity to hear the people of the past talking to one another.' African Studies

'As a meticulous researcher and astute scholar, Peterson provides excellent footnotes and an extensive bibliography on the topic, including detailed descriptions of forty-six archives on three continents and 170 informants from Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania. This insightful and comprehensive monograph serves the scholarly purpose of stimulating further research on the Revival and its socio-political implications in late colonial Africa.' Daewon Moon, African Studies Quarterly

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