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Book: Indigenous Religious Traditions in Five Minutes

Chapter: 3. Were all religions at one time "Indigenous"?

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.43118


This essay looks to the discourse on “Indigenous religious traditions” and “lifeways” in the academic study of religion, asking “Where all religions at one time ‘Indigenous’?” It interrogates assumptions at work in the terms “Indigenous” and “religion,” highlighting questions of power related to identity and place, before situating these within a larger colonial context. Next, it traces its titular query across the work of scholars foundational to the study of religion, such as Tylor, Frazer, Evans-Pritchard, Durkheim, and Eliade. Against the backdrop of this wider history and development, this chapter critically accounts for religion's longstanding dependence on theories and discourses of the "savage" and "primitive."

Chapter Contributors

  • Tyler Tully ( - tylertully1) 'University of Oxford'