— Indiana University
Religion in Popular and Political Cultures
An Undergraduate Discussion Lunch with Professor David Chidester,
University of Cape Town
What do sports, Coca-Cola, and rock 'n' roll have in common?
They are all used as examples of theoretical models for the study of
religion by religious studies professor David Chidester.
What role did religion play in making apartheid possible and
bringing about its end? What role does religion play in making
violenceagainst others or oneselfpossible? in preventing
What counts as religion? What makes a religion authentic? Along
with being the director of the Institute for Comparative Religion in
Southern Africa at the University of Cape Town, Chidester has
authored or edited more than 20 books in North American studies, South
African studies, and comparative religion. His book, Salvation and
Suicide: Jim Jones, the Peoples Temple, and
Jonestown, which was published by the Indiana University Press,
explores the "layers
of strategic denial" that participants in the mass
suicide-murder experienced in 1978 that claimed more than 900
Other major publications include Authentic Fakes: Religion and
American Popular Culture; Savage Systems: Colonialism and Comparative
Religion in Southern Africa; and Wild Religion: Tracking the
Sacred in South Africa.