Lauren Virginia Jarvis F'11
Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships 2011
In a Time of Prophets: The Nazareth Baptist Church, Community, and Authority in South Africa, 1910-1980
This study analyzes the history of the Nazareth Baptist Church (NBC) from its founding in 1910 until a schism divided the church in 1980. Despite violent succession disputes after church leaders’ deaths, the NBC is currently one of the largest churches in South Africa. Drawing upon government archives, oral traditions, and oral history interviews, the first part of this study engages with foundational debates in African Studies by proposing a history of the sources available for reconstructing the NBC’s past. The second part comprises a set of broadly chronological (but also thematic) chapters, each of which analyzes tensions within the church community. In so doing, these chapters excavate a complicated and shifting terrain of religious, political, traditional, and gendered authority.